Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls assailed the power that the biggest U.S. corporations have been allowed to accumulate and pledged stricter antitrust enforcement.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker sounded the strongest notes against corporate consolidation during the first Democratic debate in Miami on Wednesday, with each making promises for more robust scrutiny.

“We’ve had the laws out there for a long time to be able to fight back,” said Warren, who has called for breaking up big corporations. “What’s been missing is courage -- courage in Washington to take on the giants. That’s part of the corruption in this system.”

Booker called corporate consolidation a “serious problem” and said he’d appoint judges and leadership at the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission that would check the power of dominant companies.

Both candidates struck a critical tone regarding large corporations amid a growing chorus in Washington among Democrats and Republicans that dominant companies, especially tech platforms, have been treated with a light touch by antitrust enforcers for too long. Warren has offered the most aggressive policy on tackling dominance in the technology industry, including calls to unwind acquisitions by some of the biggest players.

Asked why he previously said he didn’t support Warren’s call to break up big tech companies, Booker appeared to move closer to her position. He said he didn’t disagree with Warren and that the evidence of the consolidation problem was how “dignity is being stripped from labor and we have people that work full-time jobs that still can’t make a living wage.”

Washington is already stepping up scrutiny of technology giants as the issue of corporate consolidation takes center stage in the 2020 campaign.

The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee earlier this month started a broad investigation into competition issues in technology markets. Separately, the FTC and the Justice Department have divvied up antitrust scrutiny of four major tech platforms, setting the stage for what could become formal probes.

Several Democrats seeking to unseat President Donald Trump are staking out positions on breaking up some of the internet platforms as some economists, tech experts and investors argue that Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have become too dominant and too reckless with users’ personal information.

The so-called techlash has put the companies on the defensive. They’re spending record sums on lobbying and making well-connected hires. They’ve also tried to make the case that they help foster competition and innovation.

First « 1 2 » Next