Colorado Congressman Challenges Supporting GOP Leadership Against Big Tech | Colorado Springs News

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Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado has gone from being a free market evangelist to a crusader against technology monopolies.

Buck, the top Republican on the powerful House antitrust subcommittee, was instrumental in securing a bipartisan deal in Congress that would put the brakes on big tech companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.

A staunch conservative and ally of former President Donald Trump, Buck has become known to be fiercely independent and determined when it comes to taking on tech giants, even if that means taking on prominent members of his own party. , including President Kevin McCarthy and his political “hero”, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.

“Ken has been a leader in technology, and he does so with significant opposition from the leaders of his own party. I admire someone who has that kind of courage,” said Democratic Representative David Cicillin of Rhode Island, the Liberal Speaker of the House. antitrust panel that has worked with Buck for the past two years on legislation to crack down on Big Tech.

ANTI-BIG TECH ANTITRUST SHOOT EXPECTED UNDER BIDEN

Buck and Cicillin passed six major anti-monopoly bills through the House Judiciary Committee in June after investigating the matter for 17 months. The bills, aimed at limiting the economic power of tech giants by expanding the capabilities of antitrust law, are expected to be introduced in the House later this year by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Many Republicans, including McCarthy and Jordan, oppose the bills, arguing they are not responding to their claims of conservative censorship online.

Nonetheless, Buck is highly regarded and trusted in the GOP as an indicator of the party’s attitude towards Silicon Valley.

“The Republican Party is much more populist and less neo-libertarian than in 2010, and Ken Buck’s political journey traces that broader trajectory, especially when it comes to the government attacking Big Tech,” said Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, another member. of the House antitrust panel.

Buck is one of the more conservative members of the Republican Conference, Gaetz noted, and he is often frustrated with the need to compromise on bills and align with party leadership.

On the question of the monopoly power of technology and the need for increased competition, however, Buck has been willing to compromise and get party leaders to pass a “once in a generation” law, Gaetz said. .

Even the Liberals give Buck credit for understanding his party well and using it to his advantage when it comes to holding Big Tech accountable.

“Buck has a better understanding of how the Republican Party is moving, tapping into the anti-monopoly populist zeitgeist much better than Jim Jordan, who is a symbol of the party’s declining libertarian wing,” said Hal. Singer, an antitrust lawyer and professor at George Washington University who works regularly with Democrats on technology-related legislation.

“The pro-business, monopoly-loving facet of the party has stifled it for decades, but now that is changing, thanks in part to Trump and others. Buck artfully picked the good side of the fight and read the tea leave the party, ”Singer said.

Buck said he was fortunate to be in a position of power at the right time.

“A lot of my trajectory is being in the right place at the right time,” Buck told the Washington Examiner. “Because of the opportunities given to me at the antitrust subcommittee, I try to take advantage of it to help. But also because God is good.”

He said unlike many other members of Congress, including many Republicans who have been censored by social media giants such as Facebook and YouTube, he has no personal issues or grudges with tech companies.

The need to verify Big Tech became evident, Buck said, during a 2020 congressional hearing in Boulder that examined Amazon’s arm twist of a local gadget company to lower prices. At this point, he became interested in anti-monopoly legislation again.

He said he was primarily focused on building his legacy by reducing unfair monopoly behavior and increasing competition in the tech industry to help small businesses and consumers.

“I think a lot of people benefited from Amazon during the pandemic, but I think it would serve the public even better if there were four or five Amazons competing for the ability to serve customers,” Buck said.

Buck, 62, was a federal government attorney, Colorado district attorney, and business executive before becoming a congressman in 2014. He led an outsider campaign for the Senate in 2010 during the height of Tea. Party and narrowly lost to Democrat Michael Bennet. In 2017, Buck wrote the book Clear the Swamp: How Corruption in Washington is Worse Than You Think.

Buck said Trump should be given credit for moving the Republican Party in a more populist way and helping ‘connect the dots’ between issues with the tech industry and their impact on the middle class .

“Technology is just one of those issues where we have a huge amount of wealth that’s concentrated in small areas with a few people under control. And I think it’s clear that the dispersal of that wealth through competition will be very positive, ”Buck said. noted.

Buck faces opposition within the GOP, which has been skeptical of the government’s efforts to regulate big business for generations. Most Republicans want to hold big tech companies accountable for their anti-competitive behavior and make sure conservatives aren’t censored on social media. Still, many are not in favor of using antitrust laws to do so, which is what the six bipartisan House bills Buck has championed are intended to do.

“Democrats and Republicans like Ken want to restructure the way big tech make their decisions by completely changing antitrust laws, 200 years of our judicial history. This is not inherently bad, but simply wrong,” the representative said. Republican Darrell Issa of California, who is also on the House antitrust panel.

Issa said the six anti-trust bills expected to arrive in the House later this year are ill-conceived, would stifle innovation and restrict consumer choice.

He said one of the reasons Buck has worked successfully with Democrats on technology-related legislation is his ability to do what he thinks is right, even if it means opposing his own party. .

“He’s a free spirit,” Issa said.

Republicans who know him well say Buck’s health issues, including his battle with cancer in 2013, have given him a perspective on legislation that goes beyond the daily news cycle.

“If we pass these tech bills, there will be a generational impact. And I think he’s willing to work harder on longer term projects that take years, having seen death in the face. “Gaetz said.

Buck is also known for his fierce loyalty, not only to the causes and ideas he believes in, but also to his friends and family.

“Ken came to me on one of my toughest days in Congress, amid all of my recent criticism, and said, ‘You know, they say in politics, if you need help. ‘a friend, take a dog. Well, I “I’ll be your dog. You can call me anytime,” Gaetz said.

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Buck told Gaetz shortly after news of federal investigators investigating whether Gaetz had had sex with a 17-year-old, which he denied.

Original location: Conservative Ken Buck challenges GOP leadership in charge against Big Tech


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