On January 29, 2015 I attended a program hosted by the Heritage Foundation: Obama Administration Antitrust Policy: A Report Card. The program was free and held in the Allison Auditorium. The program had three panels that focused on 1) the FTC; 2) the DOJ, and 3) Antitrust Abroad. The panels were outstanding and included speakers who were either current or former senior members of the FTC or the Antitrust Division.
The consensus of the speakers was that it is too early to give an overall Antitrust grade to the Obama administration. It can take years to conduct a proper retrospective of how decisions and priorities have played out. Overall, however, there were a number of “high marks” or “good job” given by each of the panels. The DOJ, however was given one failing grade for (my words) “Plays Well With Others.” Typically when a new administration takes over, new management speaks well of their predecessors, even though they may have a different approach in some areas. This happened with the Bush to Obama transition at the FTC. It did not at the DOJ. Several panelists noted Obama administration DOJ officials were uncharacteristically critical of their immediate predecessors with remarks such as the “antitrust is open for business” and comments made when, in May 2009, the new administration withdrew the September 2008 Section 2 report on monopolization.