15 Dems Tell Obama: Push For Settlement in AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

The DOJ sued to stop the merger late last month over concerns that the deal violated antitrust laws and would reduce competition in the mobile marketplace.

In a letter penned by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) and sent to President Obama Thursday night, the group of legislators said the merger would create jobs and expand high speed Internet access to 98 percent of Americans, goals laid out by the President in his recent jobs speech before the Joint Session of Congress and in his January State of the Union address.

The deal, said Shuler, would deliver relief in both areas, without spending taxpayer money.

“The road to economic recovery is long, but there is an opportunity before us to immediately create jobs and spur infrastructure investments and technological innovations that will create jobs for years to come,” said Rep. Shuler. “By settling the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile USA we can put thousands of Americans back to work and promote economic development across the country. I urge the President to strongly consider the vast benefits this merger will have on job creation and the economy and quickly resolve any concerns the Administration may have with the proposal.”

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The letter cites an August study by professional services firm Deloitte, which found that the wireless broadband industry could invest $25 billion to $53 billion in 4G deployment between 2012 and 2016, spur $73 billion to $151 billion in gross domestic product growth, and create 371,000 to 771,000 jobs.

The merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would be an integral part of that investment, the group of lawmakers said.

Another study by the Economic Policy Institute predicted job gains of between 55,000 and 96,000 specifically resulting from the AT&T and T-Mobile merger.

But Sprint Nextel, currently the third largest mobile provider, last week also filed suit to stop the merger. Sprint has argued that a combined AT&T and T-Mobile would actually reduce jobs, as well as harm other mobile providers.

“Make no mistake, AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile will eliminate tens of thousands of jobs across the country,” John Taylor, director of public affairs for Sprint, said in a statement on Thursday.

“At the moment, this matter is before the Courts, not Congress, and we are confident that the Department of Justice decision to prosecute this unlawful transaction is the right one for consumers, for competition, and for the economy as a whole.”

An August study commissioned by Sprint, and prepared by David Neumark, a professor of Economics and director of the Center for Economics and Public Policy at the University of California at Irvine, looked at past AT&T mergers and found they led to overall reductions in employment.

The letter was written by Rep. Shuler and co-signed by 14 other democrats: Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK), Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA), Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA), Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), and Rep. David Scott (D-GA).

The matter is scheduled for a September 21st court date in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. Judge Ellen S. Huvelle has instructed both sides to be prepared to settle.