As inflation persists and costs of groceries and gas rise, many hardworking taxpayers and business owners who already have tightened their budgets, will be making tough financial decisions for the foreseeable future, unfortunately. But while Floridians are tightening their belts, some U.S. senators are pushing ahead with the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, a harmful antitrust proposal that would wreak havoc on our fragile economy and hurt American competitiveness.

The proposal would mandate how tech companies feature services on their platform, hurting consumers. In addition, it vastly expands the power of the federal government into the private sector and sends the message to our homegrown innovators — including those in the emerging hub of Miami — that American innovation is no longer encouraged.

While Florida is a major economic driver — exceeding the country in private-sector growth for 12 consecutive months — it is not immune to the inflationary crisis. For example, consumer prices in the Miami area surged 9.6% during the past 12 months ending in April, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, above the national inflation rate of 8.3%.

Despite lawmakers raising concerns about the proposal, and even a grave warning from former President Obama’s economic adviser Larry Summers that such “hipster” antitrust policies would make the economy more inflationary, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, is moving ahead. Unfortunately for families and mom-and-pop establishments in Florida, this misguided proposal couldn’t arrive at a worse time. Its passage threatens the low-cost and free online products and services that they regularly use and enjoy, such as Amazon Prime and Google Docs. In the words of the Wall Street Journal, “The last thing America needs is a new regulatory shock from Congress.”

Making matters worse, at a time of global unrest and the war in the Ukraine, the legislation does nothing to protect America’s cybersecurity or our standing as an economic world leader. National security agencies have not had a chance to weigh in on the proposal, which should trouble military leaders and experts at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base.

Each of us — an ambassador to New Zealand in the Trump administration and a CEO with a national voice — has seen firsthand how Communist China is working every day to weaken America’s economic and technological leadership here and abroad.

This proposal kneecaps the U.S. tech industry, a key asset in the ongoing U.S.-China tech race, without imposing similar restrictions on foreign competitors. One such example is Sec. 3(a)(4), which forces companies covered under the bill to make their services interoperable “except where such access would lead to a significant cybersecurity risk.” This could lead to unintended consequences such as the sharing of Americans’ private data with foreign competitors and bad actors. The legislation does not define what makes such a risk “significant,” but the decision would likely fall to federal bureaucrats with no oversight or accountability.

No doubt, Beijing has the most to gain if this proposal is enacted as it would result in the U.S. ceding its global tech leadership to an adversary that wants to lay down a new world order. In this hard-fought battle, while the United States still leads other nations in hosting 11 of the world’s top 20 tech companies, China is close behind us with the remaining nine.

Between skyrocketing inflation and a vulnerable economy teetering on the brink of a major recession, the time for irresponsible legislation is long past. With a strong record of cutting taxes, growing the economy, and increasing America’s competitiveness Florida’s senators understand our country is at a crossroads. Let’s encourage them to craft policies that provide security and relief to Americans.

Scott Brown, former ambassador to New Zealand and Republican U.S. senator for Massachusetts, is chair of the Competitiveness Coalition.

Dr. Robert McClure is president and CEO of The James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, Florida.

https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article262506522.html