Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado has done the impossible.
He’s played a major role in forging a bipartisan agreement in Congress that would rein in Big Tech like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Twitter.
The top Republican on the House antitrust subcommittee is a staunch conservative and an ally of President Trump who increasingly has focused on taking on the tech giants – even if means crossing swords with his own party, including Republican leader Kevin McCarthy,
Here’s a glowing testimonial from the opposition party.
“Ken has been a leader on tech, and he’s doing it with significant opposition from leaders in his own party. I admire someone who has that kind of courage,” said Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, the liberal chairman of the House antitrust panel who has worked with Buck for the past two years on legislation to crack down on Big Tech.
Buck and Cicilline passed six sweeping anti-monopoly bills through the House Judiciary Committee in June after investigating the issue for 17 months. The bills, aimed at limiting the economic power of the tech giants by expanding the capabilities of antitrust law, are expected to be brought to the House floor later this year by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Many Republicans, including McCarthy and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, oppose the bills, arguing they fail to address their claims of censorship of conservatives online.
Buck’s philosophy is getting something rather than nothing now.
“The Republican Party is far more populist and less neo-libertarian than 2010, and Ken Buck’s political pathway traces that broader trajectory, particularly in terms of the government taking on Big Tech,” said Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a fellow member of the House antitrust panel.
On the issue of tech monopoly power and the need for increased competition, though, Buck has been willing to compromise and bring party leaders along to pass “once in a generation legislation,” Gaetz said.
That’s smart politics in these days of divided politics.
“Buck has a better understanding of how the Republican Party is shifting, tapping into the anti-monopoly populist zeitgeist much better than Jim Jordan, who is a symbol of the fading libertarian wing of the party,” Hal Singer, an antitrust economist and adjunct professor at Georgetown University who regularly works with Democrats on tech-related legislation, told the Washington Examiner.
“My trajectory, a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time,” Buck said. “Because of opportunities given to me on the antitrust subcommittee, I’m trying to take advantage of that to help. But also because God is good.”
He said he is primarily focused on building his legacy by reducing unfair monopolistic behavior and increasing competition in the tech industry to help small businesses and consumers.
Buck, 62, has been a prosecutor for the federal government, a district attorney in Colorado and a business executive before becoming a congressman in 2014. He ran an outsider campaign for Senate in 2010 at the height of the tea party and lost narrowly to Democrat Michael Bennet. In 2017, Buck authored the book “Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think.”
Buck said Trump should get credit for moving the Republican Party in a more populist fashion.
“Tech is just one of those issues where we have a huge amount of wealth that is concentrated in small areas with a few people in control. And I think that it’s clear that the dispersion of that wealth through competition will be very positive,” Buck said.
“If we pass these tech bills, there will be generational impact. And I think he’s willing to work harder on longer-term projects that take years, having stared death in the face,” Gaetz said.
Buck is also known for his fierce loyalty — not just to causes and ideas he believes in but also to friends and family.
“Ken came up to me on one of my toughest days in Congress, amidst all my recent criticism, and said to me, ‘You know, they say that in politics, if you need a friend, get a dog. Well, I’ll be your dog. You can call me anytime,'” Gaetz said.
Do you like the idea of a coalition of Democrats and Republicans really solving some problems?
I certainly do.
It’s about time.
Hale Buck, I say.
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