Democrats go to war with big everything

CNN/ Newswire | 3/13/2019, 12:02 p.m.
An emerging sub theme of the 2020 primary so far is that Democrats want to take a wrecking ball to ...
Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren

By Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

(CNN) -- An emerging sub theme of the 2020 primary so far is that Democrats want to take a wrecking ball to some institutions of the US economy.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont wants to break up big Wall Street banks, and he's recently pushed a bill specifically to tax Amazon. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a plan to cut the size of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

A number of presidential candidates have opposed a planned merger between two of the nation's top wireless carriers over concerns about industry consolidation in the US, even as the cell providers have warned that the real monopoly power is China.

Democrats are channeling a deep distrust of big companies and corporations in the progressive base and are making a gamble that it extends into the middle of the electorate, which may be more accepting of the status quo.

Big banks

On the 10-year anniversary of the Wall Street bailout in 2018, Sanders proposed legislation that would force banks with exposure larger than 3% of the US GDP -- more than $500 billion -- to break apart.

"No financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans or to our nation's economic well being," Sanders said in a statement at the time. "We must end, once and for all, the scheme that is nothing more than a free insurance policy for Wall Street: the policy of 'too big to fail.'"

Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan will be answering questions Tuesday at a hearing organizers have titled, "Holding megabanks accountable."

With expected appearances by Democrats like Maxine Waters of California, who chairs the subcommittee, and New York freshman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the hearing could include some fireworks.

Big wireless

Consolidation among large companies has been an accelerating phenomenon in recent years and the merger between Spring and T-Mobile could leave US consumers with just three options for a wireless carrier.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and T-Mobile US CEO John Legere can expect a grilling Tuesday before a House subcommittee that focuses on antitrust issues.

At least five Democrats running for President oppose a planned merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, two of the country's four largest wireless carriers.

"This merger will turn the clock back, returning Americans to the dark days of heavily consolidated markets and less competition, with all of the resulting harms, the senators wrote to the FTC and Department of Justice.

The group includes presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Sanders and Warren. But they're led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is not running for President, but who did take part in the landmark Microsoft anti-trust case of the late 1990s when he was attorney general of Connecticut.

Separately, a group of 36 House Democrats wrote the FTC opposing the $26 billion marriage, arguing the companies have a large number of customers in communities of color and that the merger would "hurt lower-income people and communities of color."