Mar 27, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

D.C. readers: You're invited to Transforming Transportation!

  • Tomorrow at 8 am, join Axios Autonomous Vehicles reporter Joann Muller for a look into the policies and innovations defining the next era of transportation. RSVP here.

Situational awareness: Boeing has unveiled new fixes to the MCAS software system for its 737 MAX series jet. Catch up quick.

1 big thing: Elizabeth Warren the trustbuster

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign has largely been overshadowed in recent weeks, but she's steadily unveiling a policy platform that would unravel years, if not decades, of corporate mega-mergers.

Today, her campaign put the target on Big Agriculture.

  1. Warren said she would appoint trustbusters to reverse competitive and vertical mergers, including the Bayer-Monsanto merger of 2018 and in specific livestock industries such as chickens.
  2. She would push for a right-to-repair that would end restrictions on where equipment could receive maintenance. This has ramifications (Apple) that go far beyond agriculture.
  3. She would also support national restrictions on foreign ownership of farmland and agriculture companies.

The big picture: Warren is the most prominent elected booster of the idea that rising corporate concentration contributes to broader economic inequality and erodes innovation, Axios' David McCabe notes.

  • Activists, officials and academics who share this view place a lot of the blame squarely on the current legal standard for deciding antitrust cases, which is based on whether a company or merger is harming consumers specifically.
  • In court, whether consumers are being harmed often hinges on whether they'll see a price increase.
  • That makes it hard for regulators to bring cases against many deals or "free" services like Facebook or Google.

The bottom line: This school of thought has caught fire in the last couple of years in progressive circles in D.C., attracting its share of criticism in the process. Warren is the first presidential candidate to bet big that voters will care, too, and want a sea change here.

  • If she's right, it will substantially elevate the issue — and could leave some of America's most prominent companies scrambling to play defense.

What's next: We already know some industries Warren might target, thanks to a 2016 speech listing industries she said were suffering from consolidation.

  • ✔️ Big Tech (earlier this month, she said she'd break up Google, Facebook and Amazon)
  • ✔️Agriculture (her announcement today)
  • Banking
  • Airlines
  • Telecom
  • Health care
  • Big retail (she singled out Walmart)

Go deeper:

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

March For Our Lives students place gun violence prevention art on the U.S. Capitol grounds.

  • Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of March For Our Lives, the national demonstration that saw students, teachers and parents march against gun violence, spurred largely by the shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
2. What you missed
  1. U.K. PM Theresa May is "prepared to leave this job earlier than [she] intended ... to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the EU with a smooth and orderly exit." Go deeper.
  2. Facebook will ban white nationalism content on its platform. Details.
  3. Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on joining Joe Biden as VP in his yet-to-be-announced 2020 campaign: "I think you don't run for second place." Video.
  4. Scoop: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told President Trump he disagrees with the Trump administration's attempt to get the entire Affordable Care Act thrown out in court. Go deeper.
  5. Another scoop: Silicon Valley venture capitalist Chris Schaepe is out at Lightspeed Venture Partners, after telling his partners about having hired college admissions "coach" Rick Singer to help his son. Details.
3. 1 early Easter thing

Photo: Dunkin'

Dunkin' is teaming up with Peeps for donuts and marshmallow-flavored coffee that comes out on April Fool's Day, USA Today reports.

  • "The chain also had a Peeps Donut in 2014, however it was flower-shaped."
  • "But this is the first time Dunkin' is offering a Peeps coffee, which 'brings the delightful, creamy taste of classic Peeps Marshmallow to Dunkin’s hot and iced coffee, espresso drinks, frozen coffee and frozen chocolate,' the company said in a statement."

Email me if it's good.

Mike Allen