Business groups knock Biden antitrust order

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With Daniel Lippman

BUSINESS GROUPS NOT THRILLED WITH BIDEN ANTITRUST CRACKDOWN: President Joe Biden this afternoon signed a sweeping executive order taking aim at a wide swath of industries in an effort to promote competition and break up consolidation in a range of sectors across American life. “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism, it’s exploitation,” Biden said in a signing ceremony for the order, which POLITICO’s Leah Nylen reports is set to impact industries from agriculture, airlines and tech to health, shipping, broadband and banking.

— But several of K Street’s largest trade groups today gave Biden’s push a chilly reception. Neil Bradley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief policy officer, asserted in a statement that Biden’s order is based off of what he described as a faulty premise — that ”our economy is over concentrated, stagnant, and fails to generate private investment needed to spur innovation,” claims Bradley contended are “out of touch with reality.” The order, he added, “smacks of a ‘government knows best’ approach to managing the economy.”

— “Our economy needs both large and small businesses to thrive — not centralized government dictates,” Bradley said. “In many industries, size and scale are important not only to compete, but also to justify massive levels of investment. Larger businesses are also strong partners that rely on and facilitate the growth of smaller businesses.”

The Business Roundtable’s Josh Bolten, whose group includes some of the CEOs of America’s biggest companies, expressed concerns with “the breadth of issues contemplated in and potential implications” of the order, arguing it “could undermine rather than enhance U.S. competitiveness.” Though he argued that U.S. corporations “welcome efforts to facilitate fair market competition,” he argued that “U.S. companies and workers need a level playing field at home and around the world.”

— “Some of the actions announced today are solutions in search of a problem,” declared Jay Timmons, chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers, of the order, which asks the FTC to establish rules on a concept known as “right to repair,” allowing consumers to bypass manufacturers to seek repairs on products they own. Timmons argued that the order “threaten[s] to undo” progress the manufacturing industry has made in rebounding from the pandemic, “by undermining free markets. He echoed Bradley in saying that some of the administration’s directives “are premised on the false notion that our workers are not positioned for success.”

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TOYOTA REVERSES COURSE ON DONATING TO ELECTION OBJECTORS FOLLOWING BACKLASH: Japanese automaker Toyota on Thursday said it will cease political contributions to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral college win following January’s insurrection, reversing course after becoming one of the top corporate donors to those lawmakers in the six months since.

— After the deadly insurrection, Toyota said it would reassess its future contribution criteria, according to the newsletter Popular Information. But data compiled by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington shows that Toyota has led the pack of corporations who’ve resumed political giving to election objectors. The automaker’s PAC has donated $56,000 to the committees and leadership PACs of 38 members who voted against certification, according to the group. Other corporate PACs, like those belonging to Boeing, Koch Industries and Walmart have given more, but the vast majority was given to Republican congressional campaign committees that support the entire conference too.

— In a statement Thursday, the company touted “long-standing relationships” with lawmakers of various political stripes, “especially those representing our U.S. operations,” and said that the “vast majority” of its corporate PAC’s donations this year have gone to lawmakers other than those who objected to certification. But the company also acknowledged that the contributions to election objectors “troubled some stakeholders” and that it would “stop contributing” to those members.

— The walkback comes after Toyota defended the contributions last month, saying that the company doesn’t “believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification.” The reversal also came hours after the Lincoln Project, a super PAC of GOP operatives formed to defeat former President Donald Trump that has come under its own intense scrutiny in recent months, announced a new series of ads targeting the corporations who said they would pause donations to election objectors but have not, beginning with Toyota. While a spokesperson for the automaker declined to comment on whether the reversal had anything to do with the group’s new campaign, the Lincoln Project took a victory lap this morning, blasting out a press release declaring that the group “took on Corporate America, and won.”

TOP DEMS’ EX-STAFFERS NOW LOBBYING AGAINST TAX HIKES OLD BOSSES SUPPORT: “Former staffers to nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers in Congress — including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosiare now working as lobbyists for some of the most prominent groups opposing Democrats’ proposed tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans,” TIME’s Alana Abramson reports.

— With various tax hikes now slated to go in a Democratic reconciliation bill, which only needs to pass along party lines, the party’s “razor-thin majority in Congress means every Democratic vote counts. If these lobbyists manage to convince even one of their former bosses not to vote for the increases, Biden’s policy is doomed. ‘If you are a corporation and you are trying to stop these tax hikes, you know all you have to do is pick off a couple of Democrats in the Senate and stop them to put the brakes on it,’ says Chuck Collins, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of ‘The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions.’”

HOUSE DEMS GO AFTER PHARMA SPENDING IN BID TO REVIVE DRUG PRICING PLAN: “Top House Democrats on Thursday renewed vows to pass drug pricing reforms this year as they released a report aimed at disproving industry arguments that the leading House bill would squelch innovation,” POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein reports. Pelosi “told reporters that she aims to pass the measure H.R. 3 (117) ‘in short order’ and said the forthcoming budget reconciliation package presented an ‘opportunity … to make a difference in the lives of working families.’”

— To boost their renewed push, Pelosi and House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) released a report on the industry’s spending “that found the country’s 14 biggest drug companies over the past four years spent $56 billion more paying out dividends to shareholders and buying back their own stock than they spent on research and development. One company, Amgen, spent nearly six times as much on buybacks, dividends and executive compensation as it did on R&D in 2018, the report found.”

— “Drug companies and their allies have warned for months that H.R. 3 would hamper the development of new cures and therapies. Yet the report — which focused on AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Roche and Sanofi — also notes that a meaningful portion of the industry’s R&D spending has been aimed at suppressing competition from generic and biosimilar rivals rather than developing new drugs. And it said several companies significantly increased the salaries and bonuses of their top executives as they raised the prices of drugs for cancer, Crohn’s disease and other illnesses.”

— The industry’s chief lobbying group, PhRMA, “responded that manufacturers invest tens of billions of dollars annually in new cures, including Covid-19 vaccines, and argued that net prices for medicines are trending downward.” Still, the effort has faced resistance among moderates in the caucus, with little room for error given Democrats’ thin margins in both the House and Senate.

— The Children’s Hospital Association hired Leah Evangelista as chief public affairs officer. She was most recently the senior vice president of external affairs at the Federation of American Hospitals, and is a National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts and National Association of Realtors alum.

Brendan Coffman has joined Facebook as a public policy manager focused on antitrust and competition policy. He was previously a member of the antitrust and competition practice at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

Jake Kohn is now director of government relations at LobbyIt. He previously was founder of Kohn Law & Policy.

James Burton is now a legislative specialist in Clark Hill‘s government and regulatory affairs practice in Washington, DC. He was previously special assistant for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Nutmeg DSCC Victory Fund (Sen. Richard Blumenthal, DSCC)

Conservatives for Freedom Incorporated (Hybrid PAC)
FORWARD USA FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (Super PAC)
Maxey Memes (PAC)
People Against Corruption PAC (Super PAC)
Resist This PAC (Super PAC)
Resolute PAC Inc. (Super PAC)
WIN3WINKANSAS PAC (PAC)

Alb Solutions: Farragut Partners LLP On Behalf Of Johnson & Johnson Services Inc.
Alb Solutions: Farragut Partners LLP On Behalf Of Novavax, Inc.
Alston & Bird LLP: Troutman Pepper Strategies Obo Strategic Health Info Exch Collaborative (Shiec)
Anthony Friedrich: American Saltwater Guides Association Inc
Anthony Friedrich: Asga Fisheries Policy Alliance Inc
Ashcroft Law Firm, LLC: Bassem Awadallah
Becky Shipp Consulting, LLC: National Patient Advocate Foundation
Capitol Chambers Strategies: Fti Government Affairs On Behalf Of D-Wave Government Inc.
Capitol Chambers Strategies: Fti Government Affairs On Behalf Of The Recycling Partnership
Capitol Chambers Strategies: Paypal, Inc.
Cgcn Group, LLC (Formerly Known As Clark Geduldig Cranford & Nielsen, LLC): Worthington Industries, Inc.
Clark Hill, Plc: Grainger, Inc.
Covington & Burling LLP: Geobroadcast Solutions, LLC
Dla Piper LLP (US): Global Plasma Solutions Inc.
Fti Government Affairs: Uniper Global Commodities North America LLC
Grayrobinson Pa: Bunny’S Buddies
Harbinger Strategies, LLC: International Franchise Association
Hogan Lovells US LLP: Weis Markets Inc.
Ice Miller Strategies LLC: Ike Smart City, LLC
Invariant LLC: Blade Urban Air Mobility, Inc.
King & Spalding LLP: Computer & Communications Industry Association
Laura Wood Peterson Consulting, Inc.: National Coalition For Food And Agricultural Research
Pch Strategies, LLC: Blr Aerospace
Ricchetti Incorporated: Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.
Squire Patton Boggs: Tyto Athene
Strategies 360: The Forum For Youth Investment
Strategies 360: Verily Life Sciences LLC
The Raben Group: Color Of Change
Versant Strategies LLC (Formerly Known As Wolff Strategies, LLC.): Star Rock Farms

Blue Marble Strategy LLC: In Our Hands Action Fund
Holland & Knight LLP: Bethel Native Corporation
Holland & Knight LLP: United Shore Financial Services, LLC
Lobbyit.Com: Yint, Inc.
National Group, LLP: American Samoa Government
Pirro Group, LLC: Greater New York Hospital Association (Formerly Gnyha Management Corporation)
Pirro Group, LLC: Shine Medical Technologies, Inc.
The Conafay Group, LLC: Cidara Therapeutics, Inc.
Tiber Creek Group: Bay Bridge Strategies Inc (On Behalf Of Lumeris Inc )
Tiber Creek Group: Bay Bridge Strategies (On Behalf Of Bloom Energy)
Tiber Creek Group: Bay Bridge Strategies (On Behalf Of Kinsa, Inc.)
Vantageknight, Inc.: Costa Isabela Partners
Vantageknight, Inc.: Timetrade Systems, Inc.