Amy Klobuchar talks economy, antitrust regulation at Tuck

by Joey Chong | 5/21/19 2:10am

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, gave a talk on the economy and antitrust legislation at the Tuck School of Business on Sunday evening.

by Joey Chong / The Dartmouth

On Sunday evening, the Tuck School of Business hosted a conversation with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, in Cook Auditorium. Moderated by Tuck dean Matthew Slaughter, the discussion focused on economics and Klobuchar’s ideas to regulate big businesses.

After discussing her presidential campaign announcement, Klobuchar highlighted climate change as her signature issue. She noted that this issue led President Donald Trump to criticize her, especially in light of her campaign announcement, which was held outside in the snow.

“Donald Trump, the science is on my side,” Klobuchar said. “I’d like to see how your hair would fare in a blizzard.”

Klobuchar then transitioned to telling her personal story, which focused on the root of her interest in economics. She cited her grandfather’s life as an iron-ore miner and her father’s education at a two-year community college as examples of the American Dream.

“If you work hard in this country, you are supposed to be able to succeed,” Klobuchar declared. “You are supposed to be able to make it.”

Following what she described as the economic improvements made since the 2008 recession, Klobuchar called the global economic climate a “new gilded age.” Klobuchar also outlined the challenges faced by the changing economy, particularly “digital disruption” and the redefinition of work.

One of the main areas that Klobuchar focused on was antitrust policy. As a member of the Senate Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee, Klobuchar said she advocates for more competition to support the capitalist system. She described the “collusion” between pharmaceutical companies and generic medicine brands to raise drug prices as an example of the need for antitrust legislation. Klobuchar also said that collusion was a “good word to describe Washington right now.”

To encourage competition, Klobuchar said she wants to change the legal system to clarify that mergers “reduce choice for competition through vertical consolidation.” She proposed creating a “stringent, legal standard” that requires mergers to prove that they will not harm other businesses. Klobuchar said that she also wants a “strong policy to protect consumers” in the new economy, citing her co-sponsorship of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act of 2007 as an example of her work to protect the physical safety of consumers.

Klobuchar added that she also wants to “bridge the digital divide” by opening access to technology. She outlined an infrastructure plan, which includes the expansion of broadband networks, after telling stories about people traveling to locations like McDonald’s for internet access.

“I figure if you can hook up the entire country of Iceland, I should be able to send out a tweet as I’m driving into Hanover,” Klobuchar said. 

Following her speech, Klobuchar answered questions from Slaughter and the audience. 

Slaughter asked about economic improvements during the Trump administration, which Klobuchar answered by attributing the success to the resilience of the American populace and businesses practices. After Klobuchar challenged the President to focus on expanding the economy rather than anticipating another recession, a baby started to cry in the crowd. Klobuchar used this opportunity to describe her shared sentiment.

“That makes me cry too,” Klobuchar said. “See, not everyone is happy with the Trump economy.”

Slaughter then asked what the United States’ place in the global economy should be. Klobuchar responded by criticizing the President’s approach to foreign policy. She advocated for increased U.S. involvement in foreign affairs while attacking the President’s inaction and antagonization of the world, claiming that it is difficult to “make Canada mad” but Trump has.

“I don’t believe in dealing with the rest of the world by tweet,” Klobuchar said. “I don’t think that’s how you engage in diplomacy.”

One audience member, Laura Marrin Tu ’19, asked Klobuchar about her plan to “realistically gain bipartisan support” for enacting climate change policy. In response, Klobuchar cited unusual weather phenomena nationwide as a way to facilitate mobilization in regards to climate change policy. She also said that it was a necessity for the U.S. to ratify the Paris Agreement.

Although Klobuchar’s visit was not an official campaign event, Kelly Zeilman ’22, who attended the event, said that she appreciated learning about Klobuchar’s policy initiatives.

“It’s awesome to have these candidates,” College President Phil Hanlon said in an interview after the event. “Each one has real impressive mastery of the issues.”

In a press event after the program, Klobuchar outlined her political experiences. She explained how she passed 34 bills during under the Trump administration, adding that she hopes to build on her experience to gain momentum for her campaign.

“I don’t just run on bipartisanship,” Klobuchar said. “I run on getting things done, and I’m making progress.”

When asked about House Bill 1264 — a bill that could make voting for college students in New Hampshire more difficult because of changes in the residency requirement — Klobuchar jokingly responded that her “first bill to pass would be to allow Dartmouth students to vote.” She also proposed a potential bill to register every American to vote when they turn 18 years old to help protect voting rights.

Klobuchar’s visit coincided with the series finale of the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” She described the presidential election as her “personal ‘Game of Thrones.’” 

“I am running for president,” Klobuchar said. “I announced it in a fashion that New Hampshire would love –– in a middle of a blizzard with snow mounting on my head.”