Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Dianne Feinstein are, once again, champions for the underdog, the downtrodden, the… Ritz Carlton?
So who is threatening the Sheraton, the Hilton, and the Holiday Inn? Who must Warren and Feinstein destroy to save the ‘underdog’? Airbnb. Yes, the company that provides travelers a friendlier and oftentimes cheaper option for lodging. Those are the bad guys.
According to The Washington Examiner, “The letter from Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Dianne Feinstein of California and Brian Schatz of Hawaii was part of a coordinated, multipronged strategy by hotel lobbyists to use federal regulations to cripple Airbnb, which has emerged as a major competitor to the traditional hospitality industry.”
Oh, so Airbnb isn’t a bad guy. Their financial success is simply challenging the hotel industry–that, apparently, supports Warren.
How well is Airbnb doing? Reports show that Airbnb has “grown exponentially in recent years and has an estimated market cap greater than any hotel company, and… it is the largest player in the short-term rental market.”
What is the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s (AHLA) plan? Oh, excuse me, I mean: What is Warren and Feinstein’s plan? “Comprehensive legislation in key markets” and “advanc[ing] federal legislative efforts to level the playing field in specific areas.”
In other words, submission by strangling with all the red tape.
Is it working? Not yet. Though these Democratic Senators comfortably fit in the back pockets of the AHLA, their charge that Airbnb creates ‘consumer harm”, threatens neighborhoods, or violates zoning isn’t gaining much traction.
The FTC recently released a report and “could find no harm”:
The minutes make clear that the trade group views Airbnb, which facilitates people offering their residences as short-term accommodations, as a major economic threat. “Airbnb has grown exponentially in recent years and has an estimated market cap greater than any hotel company, and … it is the largest player in the short-term rental market.”
So there isn’t really a problem? With Airbnb? No.
With Senator Elizabeth Warren? Yes.
Warren is not responding to the downtrodden. She’s the handmaiden of hotel corporations. In fact one of these organizations, whom she is representing, donated almost a million dollars to her political action committee in 2012.