With soaring inflation, record-high gas prices, increasing interest rates, and supply chain issues, hardworking Americans across the country are struggling to keep up. Nevertheless, some members of Congress continue to push anti-innovation legislation that will not help stabilize prices or reduce inflation, but instead could increase the financial pain on consumers, small businesses, and public sector retirees – all while handing China an important edge in technology leadership.
Let’s start with consumers. These anti-innovation bills are inflationary because they would prohibit companies covered under its restrictions from offering free shipping or inexpensive private labels. That means the average family would pay more and have fewer choices, all because Washington wants to protect certain competitors rather than consumers.
Second, Utah’s 313,600 small businesses, which employ more than 45 percent of all workers in the state, would also be harmed by these proposals, both through increased costs, but also because these bills would disrupt the digital platforms and tools these businesses use to reach new customers and expand beyond geographical bounds. Countless businesses were saved during the pandemic because of these American tech tools, and now Congress is actually considering increasing their cost and restricting their availability. Utah’s tech sector, which has the second fastest job growth in the country, would also feel the pinch of these anti-innovation bills, especially ones that could disrupt the flow of venture capital for startups.
Utah’s pensioners would also be hit hard by these bills. State and local government employee pension plans are some of the leading shareholders in companies that would be affected by anti-innovation legislation. A recent study conducted by the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) found that certain anti-innovation bills could threaten the retirement benefits of 176,791 Utah state and local government pension plan members, including teachers, firefighters, nurses, and other public sector workers, with the average Utah pension plan member losing nearly $4,810 each. That’s real money!
But the consequence of these bills would extend far beyond Utah’s borders. By binding the hands of U.S. tech companies with rules that don’t apply to their authoritarian counterparts, Congress would be handing over America’s technological edge to our geopolitical adversaries. China has explicitly stated it wants to be the world leader in tech, and is strategically investing hundreds of billions to make sure it wins the race for the technologies of the future. It matters greatly which country builds the technological future.
Those lawmakers who prioritize hobbling American tech instead of reducing the cost of living are wildly out of step with voters. A recent Pew Research poll found that seven-in-ten Americans today feel the top problem facing our country is inflation, while a new American Edge/Ipsos poll found that nearly *all* voters could vote for candidates who support protecting small businesses (95% yes, could vote for); new jobs (95%); lowering inflation (94%); lower gas prices (93%); and ensuring U.S. tech companies are globally competitive (86%), but half of voters (50%) could *never* vote for a candidate who wants to break up U.S. tech companies.
Washington may be 2,000 miles away from the Beehive State, but every single Utahn will feel the sting of these anti-innovation bills if they pass. These misguided policies are a prime example of rushed, election year legislation that is both bad policy and bad politics. Congress needs to turn away from these anti-tech industry bills and instead focus on controlling inflation, strengthening the economy, and advancing policies that help accelerate U.S. innovation even faster.
Doug Kelly is the CEO of the American Edge Project