Fifteen members of Congress aren’t too pleased with the Department of Justice’s recent anti-trust suit, as instanced by a letter they sent to President Obama. Penned by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) the letter urged the president to settle the suit in favor of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger because of the benefits it could bring to the American people.
Though Shuler meanders a bit, the letter essentially boils down to three main points: the merger will help the expansion of high-speed wireless networks, help generate new jobs, and help boost the country’s GDP in the long run. Shuler paints a picture of an America that is ultimately better off from the results of the merger, and ties the potential benefits back to the president’s own hopes for broadband expansion and job creation as laid out during the last State of the Union address.
Shuler finishes up the letter by recognizing the intent of the Department of Justice, and goes briefly into why the they should actually want a settlement:
We recognize that the Department of Justice has intervened in the merger to ensure competitive markets and protect consumers. Addressing these concerns through a settlement agreement that ensures robust competition while preserving the job creation, capital infrastructure investment and wireless broadband deployment benefits of the merger should be the Department’s goal.
The claims, of course, are nothing that haven’t been heard before. While members of Congress can voice their complaints all they like, this is a matter that’s ultimately up to the courts to decide. That wasn’t about to stop Sprint, who filed their own lawsuit shortly after the DoJ kicked things off, from vigorously denouncing the merger once again:
Make no mistake, AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile will eliminate tens of thousand of jobs across the country. The flawed economic study embraced by AT&T and its union ignores what Wall Street investors and the Federal Government have been already been promised: that the overall investment for the combined companies will be substantially reduced if the proposed transaction closes.
Unless something drastic happens soon, expect the situation to become much hairier before it starts to clear up.
UPDATE: A tweet from a reader prompted me to do some more digging, and it turns out that Rep. Shuler has been the recipient of over $25,000 from AT&T over the course of his political career. I haven’t yet been able to figure out who the others are, but it’s possible that their campaign contribution histories are similarly tainted.