As reported the other day via Colorado Peak Politics, Jared Polis — who amassed a fortune as an internet wunderkind almost before he was old enough to shave — has come out in defense of Amazon’s impending acquisition of Whole Foods. Meaning, the reputedly liberal gubernatorial candidate and 2nd Congressional District Democratic representative discounts the possibility that the recently announced deal flouts federal antitrust laws.
Peak Politics had cited a report by CNBC, quoting Polis as well as conservative Republican U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, of California, essentially in support of the deal. For a fire-breathing free-marketeer like Issa, that’s unsurprising, but here’s Polis:
“Of course I think both Democrats and Republicans believe in antitrust, and they also believe with the development of new technologies we should update what antitrust means in a digital era…”
Republican-leaning Peak saw it as an example of Polis blowing hot and cold on the issue because in the same CNBC report, he also is paraphrased saying any congressional antitrust hearings are moot because his Democratic minority doesn’t run the floor show in the U.S. House. Peak also suggests Polis might be singing a different turn if Amazon weren’t helmed by his fellow Net-repreneur and left-leaner (and relatively new Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos.
Let’s defer to the Peak-sters on all that — and instead consider a Fortune.com report quoting another Democratic member of Congress who vents some of his party’s more familiar concerns about the Amazon deal:
In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, (Rhode Island Democratic U.S. Rep. David) Cicilline called for a hearing looking into the Amazon-Whole Foods deal.
“Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Whole Foods raises important questions concerning competition policy, such as how the transaction will affect the future of retail grocery stores,” Cicilline wrote. “Some have also raised concerns that the transaction will also increase Amazon’s online dominance, enabling it to prioritize its products and services over competitors.”
By all indicators, Cicilline’s request will go nowhere, as Polis pointed out. What’s noteworthy for Coloradans, though, is how far outside the Democratic safe space Polis is willing to go on free-market economics — anathema to a significant wing of his party and hardly the hallmark of populist Benie-nomics..
By the lights of his campaign website, Cicilline seems very much a traditional New England Democrat — vowing to recapture old-economy manufacturing jobs. (You do have to question the political value of Cicilline’s target, though: the quintessential virtual vendor buying the quintessential yup-scale grocer — arguably, a big “who cares?” to the blue-collar crowd he’s playing to.)
Polis, in stark contrast, is all about the economy of tomorrow. Here’s more from the CNBC report:
“By really nurturing and helping capital formation and issues around startup companies, we’re encouraging the creation of tomorrow’s great success stories,” Polis said.
Capital formation? Success stories? He could be Rich Uncle Penny Bags (aka the Monopoly man)! OK, that’s unfair. Point is, the congressman is no foe of the free market. He made so much of his own money there, after all.