Latest News: Faculty Engagement Corps Journal Day 1: On the road
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University of Iowa law professor Herb Hovenkamp is part of a team assembled by the American Bar Association (ABA) to advise President Obama on antitrust policy during his second term.
Hovenkamp, one of the country’s leading authorities on antitrust law and business competitiveness, is a member of the ABA’s Transition Task Force to the President-Elect. The task force is established by the American Bar Association every election year to compile and issue reports for incoming presidents that give the Bar’s position on legal issues in various fields and recommend policy changes.
Hovenkamp’s group is looking at antitrust issues that relate to business competitiveness, strengthening markets, and encouraging innovation. He says the task force was appointed last spring and has about 40 members of all political persuasions, most of them lawyers and scholars in antitrust fields, and corporate counsels. The co-chairs are Douglas Melamed, general counsel of Intel Corp., and Donald Klawiter, a Washington, D.C., attorney who specializes in antitrust cases.
Hovenkamp says the task force’s 40-page report would have been the same whether Obama or Mitt Romney had won. While it’s still unfinished, Hovenkamp expects it to be heavy on antitrust specifics, unlike a generally vague report the task force wrote intended for either Obama or John McCain in 2008. However, he says about half of the ideas will be along the lines of “just keep doing what you’re doing,” and the rest will be not much more than tweaks. Nothing in it will be controversial, he says.
“I don’t think anything in the report will prompt Obama to change direction,” says Hovenkamp. “Even the Republicans on the committee felt that not a lot of changes were needed, which is a credit to the current administration’s policies of the last four years.”
Once the task force has approved the report, the ABA will forward it to the White House, where it will likely make its way to the director of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. At that point, it’s up to the administration to implement any changes.
“Admittedly, the task force reports effects are limited, but they have had some impact,” says Hovenkamp. “Administrations do read them.”