“Nice emotional appeal, but it’s kind of a straw man argument,” countered Josh Withrow, a resident fellow of Technology and Innovation at R Street Institute. “Even under the consumer welfare standard, price is not the only point of analysis for competitive harm; harms to product quality and innovation are valid considerations as well.”

One explanation for the aggressive new merger guidelines could be Khan’s embarrassing losses in high-profile cases targeting Meta and Microsoft.

Withrow is not surprised by Khan’s record of failure. “Convincing courts to let go of (the consumer welfare) standard, which has been quite successful for the government for the last several decades, is going to be really, really hard without changes to the law.”