- The Washington Times - Monday, January 30, 2023

Rep. Thomas Massie is taking charge of the House’s influential panel for antitrust policy, putting the Kentucky Republican known as a fierce free-market defender in a key position to determine how the GOP pursues a crackdown against Big Tech companies. 

Mr. Massie succeeds Rep. Ken Buck, Colorado Republican, a stalwart Big Tech critic who previously worked on the House Judiciary Committee with Democrats on legislation aimed at diminishing major companies’ market dominance. The subcommittee is part of the judiciary panel, on which both members serve.

“I’m looking forward to chairing the Subcommittee on the Administrative State, Regulatory Reform and Antitrust,” Mr. Massie tweeted on Friday.

The move was celebrated by free-market advocates and decried by conservatives who favor a more activist government antitrust crackdown on tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google. 

Competitiveness Coalition Chairman Scott Brown, former GOP senator from Massachusetts, cheered Mr. Massie’s elevation as a setback for defenders of big government. 

“As someone who knows that more competition, rather than more government, is the driver of economic growth, Chairman Massie is a superb choice, and we commend [Judiciary Committee] Chairman Jim Jordan for his selection,” Mr. Brown said in a statement. “Make no mistake: The creeping hostility toward free enterprise in certain Republican circles and lawmakers is a dangerous trend. We have come to expect these types of attitudes from the left, but they have no place among conservatives.”

Mr. Massie has long opposed government intervention as the best answer to breaking up Big Tech power.

Some of Mr. Buck’s conservative allies criticized the selection of Mr. Massie to lead the panel. Internet Accountability Project founder Mike Davis said the move was the result of Mr. Jordan and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy fawning over Big Tech. 

“McCarthy and Jordan, along with their top advisers, are bought off by Big Tech,” Mr. Davis said. “Truly shameful.”

Mr. Massie’s liberal opponents ripped his selection as well. The liberal American Economic Liberties Project’s Matt Stoller criticized Mr. Massie as a stooge for Big Tech.

“Thomas Massie? I mean you might as well put Mark Zuckerberg as chair of the antitrust subcommittee,” Mr. Stoller tweeted. “Actually Zuckerberg would be better, he’d at least go after Apple.”

Mr. Buck has signaled he intends to keep fighting to break up increasingly powerful tech companies despite having to relinquish the key subcommittee perch. 

Mr. Buck wrote the book “Crushed: Big Tech’s War on Free Speech.” He told The Washington Times earlier this month that his preferred economic vision would not mean destroying the biggest tech companies but splitting them up to give consumers more choices. 

“I would define success as six Googles and eight Facebooks and seven Amazons,” Mr. Buck said at the time. “I think that the competition in the marketplace is the key.”

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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