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Biden targets big businesses in massive executive order

Jul 09, 2021


President Joe Biden signed an executive order Friday afternoon targeting anticompetitive practices used by big businesses in tech, health care, and other industries. The video above shows the signing of the order, as well a speech President Biden gave ahead of the signing.

The order includes 72 actions and recommendation that will also try to boost workers’ wages and consumer protections.

“In total, higher prices and lower wages caused by lack of competition are now estimated to cost the median American household $5,000 per year,” the White House said in a fact sheet outlining the order. “Inadequate competition holds back economic growth and innovation.”

The order calls for the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit noncompete agreements, ban unnecessary occupational licensing restrictions and strengthen antitrust guidance. That guidance would prevent employers from collaborating to suppress wages or reduce benefits by sharing wage and benefit information with one another.

According to the White House, noncompete clauses affects 36 million to 60 million Americans.

President Biden’s order also allows rule changes that would pave the way for hearing aids to be sold over the counter at drugstores and bans excessive early termination fees by internet companies. It also calls on the Transportation Department to consider issuing rules requiring airlines to refund fees when baggage is delayed or in-flight services are not provided as advertised.

The Biden administration also calls on the Federal Maritime Commission to take action against shippers “charging American exporters exorbitant charges” and the Surface Transportation Board to require railroad track owners to “strengthen their obligations to treat other freight companies fairly.”

The order also seeks to take aim at tech giants Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon by calling for greater scrutiny of mergers, “especially by dominant internet platforms.”

The agricultural industry could also be affected by the order. It calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider issuing new rules defining when meat can use “Product of USA” labels. It also encourages the FTC to limit farm equipment manufacturers’ ability to restrict the use of independent repair shops.

Joe Biden, U.S. President: “And now that the economy is back on track, we’re making progress on the second phase of our strategy, ensuring long term growth. That’s what my Build Back Better agenda, including my American Family Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure agreement we reached last month. That’s what they’re all about, long term. But to keep our country moving, we have to take another step as well. And I know you’re all tired of hearing me during the campaign and since I’m elected president, talk about it. And that’s bringing fair competition back to the economy. That’s why today I’m going to be signing shortly the executive order promoting competition. To lower prices, to increase wages and to take another critical step toward an economy that works for everybody. My executive order includes 72 specific actions, I expect the federal agencies, and they know this, to help restore competition. So that we have lower prices, higher wages, more money, more options, more convenience for the American people. All told, between rising prices and lowering wages, lack of competition costs the median American household $5,000 dollars a year. Look, I’m a proud capitalist, I spent most of my career representing the corporate state of Delaware. I know America can’t succeed unless American business succeeds. Let me be very clear: Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation. Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want. And treat you however they want. And for too many Americans, that means accepting a bad deal for things that can’t go, you can’t go without. Competition is what made America the wealthiest, most innovative nation in history. That’s why people come here to invent things and start new businesses. In the competition against China and other nations of the 21st century, let’s show that American democracy and the American people can truly outcompete anyone, because I know that just given half a chance, American people would never, ever, ever let their country down.”