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May 26th, 2020 at 12:40 pm
Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Agree with Trump’s Pandemic Deregulation Initiative
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In our latest Liberty Update, we highlight the benefits of the Trump Administration’s deregulation effort, both pre-pandemic and going forward, and how a budding effort among Congressional leftists to impose a moratorium on business mergers would severely undermine that effort.  Rasmussen Reports brings excellent news in that regard, as large majorities of Americans agree with Trump rather than hyper-regulatory leftists:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey shows that 58% of likely U.S. voters approve of Trump’s decision to temporarily limit government regulation of small businesses to help them bounce back.  Just 26% are opposed, while 17% are undecided.”

Sadly but perhaps predictably, those on the left stubbornly disagree:

The president’s action has triggered criticism from some.  While 70% of Republicans and 59% of voters not affiliated with either major party agree with the decision to temporarily limit government regulation of small businesses, just 44% of Democrats share that view.”

Nevertheless, this is welcome news, as Americans maintain faith in what gave us the strongest economy in human history when the coronavirus pandemic suddenly hit – deregulation and letting America’s free market forces work.

 

May 18th, 2020 at 10:37 am
New Gallup Report Undermines the Myth of “Superior” European Healthcare
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Socialized medicine advocates curiously but persistently suggest that European models offer a superior alternative to the American healthcare system that relies more on private market forces and strong intellectual property rights.  Gallup offers an important corrective, even if unintentionally.  Whereas the percentage of Americans rating their healthcare as positive has remained within a high 76% to 83% window for years, Europeans consistently rate their healthcare satisfaction substantially lower, with only Germany matching American satisfaction levels:

 

Germany:  84% approve/15% disapprove

United Kingdom:  76% approve/22% disapprove

France:  74% approve/25% disapprove

Spain:  68% approve/31% disapprove

Italy:  51% approve/487% disapprove

 

That’s important to remember as calls for socialized medicine become louder amid the coronavirus pandemic and as November elections approach.

May 11th, 2020 at 10:36 am
Image of the Day: Majority Says Internet Better Left to Private Providers, Not Federal Bureaucrats
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CFIF continues to highlight how Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai’s “light touch” regulatory approach benefits Americans immensely in terms of internet service, particularly amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.  The left-leaning Pew Research Center offers an encouraging new survey in that regard, highlighting how large majorities agree that while internet service remains essential, it’s something better left to private internet providers than the federal government:

 

Majority Disfavors Federal Internet Control

Public Disfavors Federal Internet Control

 

May 1st, 2020 at 11:04 am
“Net Neutrality”: Former Clinton Official Defends FCC Chairman Pai’s Free-Market Approach to Internet
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We recently highlighted how the Trump Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai did Americans a favor in repealing the 2015 Obama FCC “Net Neutrality” regulation that treated internet service as a public utility.  That Obama FCC effort needlessly reversed the “light-touch” regulatory approach that prevailed from 1996 through 2015, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, and which had allowed the internet to become the most quickly transformative innovation in human history.  In contrast, after the Obama FCC “Net Neutrality” order, private broadband investment fell for the first time ever outside of a recession.

And now, amid the sudden coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, Americans can be grateful for Chairman Pai’s leadership on that issue because the U.S. has more smoothly accommodated the suddenly higher internet burdens than our European counterparts, who more broadly adhere to the heavy-regulatory Obama FCC “Net Neutrality” approach.  In that vein, former Clinton Administration Undersecretary of Commerce Ev Ehrlich emphasizes precisely that point in today’s Wall Street Journal:

I was Undersecretary of Commerce during the Clinton Administration when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 passed.  That law produced some of the best and most affordable broadband in the world.  Our networks are performing much better than those in Europe, Australia and India because we created a deregulatory regime to allow different technologies – cable, fiber, mobile – to compete against one another.  As a result, 95% of Americans today have high-speed broadband available and 80% have access to gigabit speeds.”

Bipartisan consensus is rare in today’s charged political culture, but it’s nice to see a former Clinton Administration official confirm the point – a “light-touch” regulatory approach to internet service has benefited America vis-a-vis the suffocating regulatory approach favored by leftist partisan activists, Europe and the Obama Administration.  For that we should also thank the current FCC under Chairman Pai.

 

April 27th, 2020 at 10:37 am
Image(s) of the Day: American Optimism Rising, According to Gallup
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Gallup reports an encouraging upswing in American optimism amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with a plurality now stating that the situation is improving:

American Optimism Rising

American Optimism Rising

Interestingly, however, Democrats stand as an exception.  Whereas they similarly expressed increased optimism, in recent days that trend has reversed.  We’ll leave it to others to speculate on what explains that:

With One Exception

With One Exception

 

 

 

April 17th, 2020 at 9:59 am
Image of the Day: Free Markets Bring Innovation
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In this week’s Liberty Update, we highlight how cheap slurs against “Big Pharma” have suddenly and rightfully fallen silent amid the coronavirus pandemic, as people understand that private pharmaceutical innovators offer the best hope for new vaccines and treatments.  Along with strong patent protections, one of the key components in unleashing America’s pharmaceutical innovators – who lead the world by producing an astounding two-thirds of new medicines worldwide – is an emphasis on free-market principles, as opposed to socialized models that stifle innovation and prevent new drugs from reaching even developed nations’ consumers.  Our friends at the Heritage Foundation offer a nice illustration of that correlation:

 

 

Freedom Means Innovation

Freedom Means Innovation

 

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April 7th, 2020 at 10:16 am
Image of the Day: Peril of a “Buy American” Medical Mandate
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CFIF has joined a broad coalition of fellow conservative and libertarian free-market organizations in opposing any proposed “Buy American” mandates on medicines, because they would place unnecessary sourcing requirements upon medicines and medical imputs purchased with federal dollars.  That is the last thing that Americans need at the moment, not least because it doesn’t single out China in the way that some falsely assume, and the just-released coalition letter is worth reading in its entirety here.

In that vein, however, this image helpfully illustrates some of the logic behind the letter:

The Peril of a

The Peril of a “Buy American” Order

 

March 30th, 2020 at 10:34 am
Some Potentially VERY Good Economic News
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Here’s some potentially VERY good economic news that was lost amid the weekend news flurry.  Those with “skin in the game,” and who likely possess the best perspective, are betting heavily on an upturn, as highlighted by Friday’s Wall Street Journal:

Corporate insiders are buying stock in their own companies at a pact not seen in years, a sign they are betting on a rebound after a coronavirus-induced rout.  More than 2,800 executives and directors have purchased nearly $1.19 billion in company stock since the beginning of March.  That’s the third-highest level on both an individual and dollar basis since 1988, according to the Washington Service, which provides data analytics about trading activity by insiders.”

Here’s why that’s important:

Because insiders typically know the most about their companies’ outlook, evidence of buying can signal corporate optimism and reassure investors, especially in times of turmoil.  ‘I’ve never seen a number like that before,’ Dr. Nejat Seyhun said, referring to the buy-to-sell ratio that he calculated for the energy sector.  Beyond Marathon Oil, insiders at companies including Exxon Mobil Corp., Sunoco LP and Continental Resources Inc. have also purchased shares.  He said the increased level of buying may signal that energy executives believe ‘the oil price war is not going ot last too long.’  Dr. Seyhun’s research over the years has found that insider activity can be a ‘solid’ predictor of future returns.  Stocks that insiders purchased during the 1987 stock market crash ‘bounced back,’ he said.”

We often malign insiders who dump stock before a downturn, so in this case we should welcome the signs of spring that insiders who tend to be most knowledgeable and possess actual skin in the game are heavily optimistic.  As we noted in our Liberty Update commentary last week, that may signal a closer similarity to 1987’s crash, which witnessed a return to normalcy and prosperity soon thereafter, as opposed to 1929 or 2008.  Staying the course on the lower-tax, less-regulatory environment that gave us the strongest economy in history when we entered this pandemic will help along the way.

 

 

March 23rd, 2020 at 10:22 am
Trump Administration Stands Up for U.S. Copyright Protections Under Potential South African Threat
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At CFIF, we’ve unceasingly highlighted the foundational role of intellectual property (IP) rights – patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets – in what we know as “American Exceptionalism.”

No nation matches our legacy of IP protection throughout the decades and centuries.  Our Founding Fathers specifically inserted IP protections in Article I of the Constitution, even before the First Amendment or other Bill of Rights protections.

As a direct result no nation in human history remotely matches our legacy of scientific inventiveness, artistic innovation, global influence, power and prosperity.

And today, IP-centric industries account for about 40% of the total U.S. economy, and 45 million jobs – nearly 30% of the U.S. labor force.  For perspective, that U.S. IP economic sector outsizes the entire economies of every other economy on Earth with the sole exception of China.

Recently, we’ve particularly highlighted the role that patent rights play in medical innovation, which has obviously taken on increased importance amid the coronavirus pandemic.  Believe it or not, America accounts for an astounding two-thirds of all worldwide pharmaceutical innovation, due in large part to the IP incentives that allow innovators to receive the fruits of their difficult and costly labor.  That continues today, more than ever.

But in the IP realm, copyright plays just as vital a role in America’s legacy of innovation, influence and prosperity.  After all, just ask yourself what nation today or throughout history even approaches our artistic influence from music to cinema to television to any other form of artistic creation.  That’s the direct result of strong copyright protections for innovators in the U.S.

Unfortunately, other nations not only don’t respect copyright and other IP rights to the degree that we do, they actively seek to undermine U.S. protections.  As the latest example, the nation of South Africa, which hasn’t adequately or effectively protected U.S. copyrights.  And making matters worse, the South African legislature recently passed two proposed laws that further weaken copyright protections and sent them to the South African president for signature.

Fortunately, the Trump Administration is standing up for U.S. copyright and must remain so.

By way of quick background, the U.S. government practices what is known as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which allows for duty-free importation of various goods from developing nations that we designate as beneficiaries of the program.  In April of last year, as part of our annual review of GSP beneficiary nations, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) formally requested that the U.S. government specifically analyze South Africa’s status under GSP eligibility criteria because of South Africa’s longstanding inadequacy in terms of copyright protection for American copyrighted works.  In October, the administration accepted that petition and commenced a review, including a public hearing that occurred on January 30 of this year.  As the U.S. government rightly reconsiders South Africa’s GSP eligibility, petitioners ask that its legislature reconsider the two proposed bills and remove the defective anti-copyright provisions.

If that corrective action by South Africa’s government does not occur, the U.S. should in fairness withdraw South Africa’s continuing enjoyment of the GSP program’s benefits.

Unfortunately, some groups here in the U.S. seek to undermine American copyright laws, and are acting to pressure the Trump Administration and government officials to give South Africa a free pass.

That mustn’t be allowed.  Our protection of copyright and other IP rights is a primary – if not the primary – reason for America’s unrivaled legacy of innovation and prosperity.

The Trump Administration has strengthened America’s IP legacy after eight years of decay under Barack Obama.  For example, the administration strengthened IP protections during renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  That included stronger patent protections for pharmaceuticals, as well as higher enforcement against counterfeit copyrighted and other goods.  It is doing the right thing with regard to South Africa as well, and it mustn’t allow domestic or overseas interest groups to pressure it into doing otherwise.

Particularly at a time like this, we cannot allow other countries to undermine our legal rights globally, whether South Africa or others.

 

March 17th, 2020 at 10:50 am
Image of the Day: The Ongoing Promise of Pharmaceutical Innovation
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Continuing our theme of highlighting pharmaceutical innovators and innovation in a moment like this,  from Fulton County, Georgia:

 

The Promise of Pharmaceutical Innovation

The Promise of Pharmaceutical Innovation

 

March 13th, 2020 at 1:13 pm
Image of the Day: Patent Rights and U.S. Pharmaceutical Leadership
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In our Liberty Update this week, we emphasize the critical role that strong patent rights play in U.S. pharmaceutical innovation.  Although the U.S. accounts for just 4% of the world’s population and 24% of the global economy, we account for an astonishing 2/3 of new drugs introduced worldwide, as this helpful image illustrates perfectly:

Patent Rights Protect U.S. Pharmaceutical Innovation Leadership

Patent Rights = Global Pharmaceutical Innovation Leadership

 

Strong patent protections, along with our more market-oriented approach, have made America the world leader in pharmaceutical innovation.  At a moment like this amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever to protect that legacy and oppose misguided efforts by some in Congress to undermine it.

March 6th, 2020 at 8:46 am
Breaking: Incredible U.S. Jobs Growth in February
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This is incredible.  Amid the coronavirus scare and economic malaise across the rest of the world, the Labor Department reports that job growth in the U.S. exceeded expectations by 100,000 in February:

Nonfarm payrolls grew far more than expected in February as companies continued to hire amid a growing coronavirus scare.  The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 273,000 new jobs during the month, while the unemployment rate was 3.5%.  Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for payroll growth of 175,000 and a 3.5% jobless level.  Average hourly earnings grew by 3% over the past year, in line with estimates.”

Although the effects of the coronavirus create uncertainty going forward, the Trump Bump has continued.

February 28th, 2020 at 11:12 am
“Money in Politics for Me, but Not for Thee” — More Leftist Hypocrisy
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In this week’s Liberty Update, we highlight the ironic absurdity of the “authentic” label constantly applied to 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, as his long career exposes him as perhaps the least authentic candidate of all.  His behavior simply doesn’t match his professed beliefs, including on so-called “campaign finance reform” laws (which violate Americans’ First Amendment rights).

In that vein, The Washington Post today highlights how the powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU), perhaps the most powerful labor union of all, plans on spending a whopping $150 million – a record amount – to elect Democrats in November:

The Service Employees International Union plans to spend $150 million this year to get out the vote for Democrats in November, its largest political investment ever.

The union will deploy canvassers across more than 40 states, but its efforts will mainly focus on turning out infrequent voters from the African American and Latino communities across the eight battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry previewed the strategy to defeat President Trump during an extended interview in her office off DuPont Circle in Washington.  The union, which represents 2 million members, has opted not to endorse in the presidential primary, at least for now, but to focus instead on building a massive field operation to help whoever emerges from the convention this summer, as well as Democrats down the ballot.”

Wait…  A DuPont Circle office?  Pretty posh for an organization pretending to represent the interests of working-class members.  And if things are as bad for American workers today as the SEIU and leftists constantly claim despite all of the evidence to the contrary, why are they redirecting $150 million from dues paid by their own members toward nakedly partisan political purposes?

And more broadly, aren’t leftists the ones constantly claiming that we must “get money out of politics?”  Any chance that any of the Democratic candidates who stand to benefit from this will call them out and practice what they preach?

Don’t risk suffocation by holding your breath.

February 24th, 2020 at 4:44 pm
Sen. McSally Must Avoid the Trap of Counterproductive Prescription Drug Legislation
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Senator Martha McSally (R – Arizona) has broadly proven herself a stalwart ally of conservatives, libertarians and the Trump Administration in her brief tenure on Capitol Hill.  A former U.S. Air Force A-10 pilot, her votes have confirmed President Trump’s phenomenal array of judicial nominees and advanced his economic agenda to bring us arguably the greatest economic conditions in history.

She must be careful, however, to avoid potentially catastrophic missteps on the issue of healthcare and prescription drugs.

Specifically, Sen. McSally has introduced legislation and supported other Senate Finance Committee proposals that would introduce drug price controls from socialist foreign healthcare systems to the U.S., empower the Department of Health and Human  Services (HHS) to directly and bureaucratically negotiate pharmaceutical prices, allow importation of potentially dangerous drugs from foreign countries and introduce components that would erode our world-leading patent system.

It’s not by accident that the U.S. accounts for over two-thirds of all new lifesaving and life-improving pharmaceuticals introduced to the world – it’s the direct result of our strong patent protections here, and our more market-oriented approach.  In contrast, foreign nations that have introduced the principles contained in some of Sen. McSally’s legislation and bills that she supports inevitably suffer shortages, as even the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged:

Every time one country demands a lower price, it leads to lower price reference used by other countries.  Such price controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.

Of all new cancer drugs developed worldwide between 2011 and 2018, 96% were available to American consumers. Meanwhile, only 56% of those drugs became available in the Canda, 50% in Japan and just 11% in Greece, as just three examples. Patients in nations imposing drug price controls simply don’t receive access to new pharmaceuticals as quickly as Americans, if they ever receive them at all.

Senator McSally mustn’t sacrifice her conservative principles on behalf of prescription drug legislation that will make matters worse for American consumers, not better.  She should withdraw her proposed bill and renounce the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal, and instead support more market-based solutions that have proven effective not only with pharmaceuticals, but across all economic realms.

February 14th, 2020 at 10:06 am
Image of the Day: Economy Even Better Than We Realized
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Americans already expressed record satisfaction on economic conditions in the U.S., over three years into President Trump’s tenure.  Turns out that things are even better than we initially realized, as employment data from the end of 2019 was just significantly updated:

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Even Better Than Initially Realized

Even Better Than First Realized

 

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February 4th, 2020 at 3:37 pm
Congressional Proposals Targeting Consumer Finance Lending Will Harm Lower-Income Americans They Claim to Protect
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This week, the House Financial Services Committee – headed by far-left Representative Maxine Waters (D – California) – holds a hearing on the issue of loan services to struggling American consumers, including legislation that would make matters worse in the name of claiming to help them, such as the so-called “Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act.”

On a superficial level, federal legislation regulating lending services and capping repayment rates may seem helpful to Americans struggling paycheck-to-paycheck.  But the real-world impact only eliminates a source of reliable, legal short-term loans to get them through temporary emergencies.

According to the Federal Reserve System’s Board of Governors in a study on the economic wellbeing of U.S. households in 2018, nearly 40% of American families don’t possess sufficient savings to cover even a $400 emergency expense. Incredibly, 51% of military service members live paycheck-to-paycheck.

In such circumstances, credit cards aren’t always a viable option for them, and a more traditional bank loan isn’t an option due to the small amount needed.  Whereas higher-income Americans with stronger credit history are able to borrow from banks, use assets they possess as leverage or use their savings amounts, those with lower credit scores and without sufficient savings cannot.  In fact according to the Fair Isaac Corporation, some 46% of consumers possess credit scores below 700, meaning that traditional bank loans aren’t possible for them.

In such circumstances, struggling Americans can access the money they need for the short-term via consumer finance loans.  But under the sorts of legislation contemplated by the House and pushed by leftists who think they know better, consumer finance lending will become less available.

And the unintended consequence will be more people seeking out illegal loansharks, suffering overdrafts, or simply being unable to cover their temporary costs.  As the World Bank found, such regulatory and legislative proposals lead to “increases in non-interest fees and commissions; reduced price transparency; lower number of institutions and reduced branch density; and adverse impacts on bank profitability, in addition to the lack of access for smaller and riskier borrowers.”

That’s not fair, nor does it help the people that such legislation claims to protect.  For that reason, all of our elected leaders should reject this chimerical effort, which would only serve to make consumer finance lending more difficult and more expensive.

January 28th, 2020 at 9:55 am
Image of the Day: Another View of Those Helped in Trump Economy
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From our friends at the Senate Joint Economic Committee (JEC), another helpful perspective on how President Trump’s economic agenda has helped those who need it most, in contrast to his predecessor who only claimed his policies pursued that end:

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Trump Economy Boosts Those Most in Need

Trump Economy Boosts Those Most In Need

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January 24th, 2020 at 12:34 pm
Image of the Day: More Fantastic News from Gallup – Economic Confidence Highest Since 2000
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More phenomenal news from Gallup.  Consumer spending accounts for approximately two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and economic confidence has now reached its highest point since 2000, when the mainstream media couldn’t stop talking about how great things were.  Thank you, deregulation and tax cuts.

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Thank You, Tax Cuts and Deregulation

Thank You, Tax Cuts and Deregulation

 

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January 22nd, 2020 at 8:22 pm
Image of the Day: The U.S. Remains a Center/Right Nation
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As an encouraging Image of the Day, rumors of conservatism’s demise have obviously been greatly exaggerated.  As illustrated by Gallup, the number of Americans labeling themselves “conservative” or “very conservative” has actually increased over the past three decades.  A significant 72% supermajority of Americans are either conservative or moderate, with conservatives actually leading the way with 37%:

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Conservatives Outnumber Both Moderates and Liberals

Conservatives Outnumber Both Moderates and Liberals

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January 13th, 2020 at 3:53 pm
On Sabre/Farelogix Merger, DOJ Mustn’t Undertake a Misguided Antitrust Boondoggle
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The U.S. travel technology firm Sabre may not ring an immediate bell, and perhaps you’ve not yet heard of its proposed acquisition of Farelogix, but it looms as one of the most important antitrust cases to approach trial since AT&T/Time-Warner.

The transaction’s most significant aspect is the way in which it offers a perfect illustration of overzealous bureaucratic antitrust enforcement, and the way that can delay and also punish American consumers.

Specifically, the transaction enhances rather than inhibits market competition, and will benefit both travelers and the travel industry by accelerating innovation.  That’s in part because Sabre and Farelogix aren’t head-to-head market competitors, but rather complementary businesses.  While Sabre serves customers throughout the industry – such as travel agencies, travel management companies and travel providers – Farelogix serves only a limited number of airlines.  Additionally, Farelogix remains small and growth-constrained, with only $7 million in revenues generated in the U.S. last year via its most important product offering, Open Connect.

Furthermore, Farelogix’s technology is based on the “New Distribution Capability,” a non-proprietary standard that dozens of companies as well as airlines already use. In its roughly 10 years of existence, Farelogix has been unable to gain meaningful traction in the airline industry. This is due to Farelogix’s demonstrated inability to scale its offerings, its position as simply an IT input among numerous competitors, and the growing industry realization that its product cannot substitute for the suite of services GDSs, like Sabre, provide.

In contrast, Sabre possesses the scale and resources to better leverage Farelogix’s products and talent to the benefit of both companies’ customers and travelers more generally. By acquiring Farelogix, Sabre can maximize value and convenience to its airline and agency customers and accelerate the delivery of a comprehensive platform for retailing and distribution that will drive competition and offer a high-value product for all customers.

Accordingly, considering the challenges and costs associated with those beneficial and critical objectives, the proposed acquisition shouldn’t be needlessly and unfairly delayed from improving the travel marketplace.

Unfortunately, the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its misplaced complaint bungles several important details.

For instance, contrary to the DOJ’s assertion, Sabre doesn’t seek to “kill” Farelogix. To the contrary, Sabre has repeatedly committed to maintaining current pricing, service levels and investment for existing Farelogix products.  The DOJ also gets it wrong in labeling U.S.-based Sabre the “dominant” company in the industry, as Spanish rival Amadeus is significantly larger and already possesses the NDC-based capabilities that Sabre hopes to acquire from Farelogix.  The DOJ also erroneously defines the relevant market in domestic terms only, because these companies operate in what is a decidedly global marketplace, with providers servicing customers worldwide, regardless of geography.

So why does the DOJ hope to prevent Sabre from acquiring and investing in the same capabilities as its larger Spanish rival – capabilities that must be scaled in order for the industry to satisfy consumers’ needs?  Sabre’s focus remains driving change, not entrenching the status quo.  Sabre’s CEO once ran Frontier Airlines, and has spent the past three years transforming Sabre into an agile, modern business. The proposed Farelogix acquisition is a critical part of that effort.

The DOJ has stubbornly and illogically opposed previous complimentary mergers, like AT&T/Time-Warner, and lost. They should expect the same outcome here.

Hopefully, the DOJ considers the facts before it repeats similar missteps, and needlessly penalizes global travelers in the meantime.  It shouldn’t remain stuck in the past while attempting to keep travel consumers stuck there with them.