President Joe Biden takes aim at anti-competitive business practices and Big Tech
The White House said Biden’s executive order will encourage more economic competition between business and will help American families
President Joe Biden will sign an expansive executive order Friday that, the White House says, encourages economic competition and will help American families.
The president’s directive, titled “Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” will include 72 initiatives aimed at tackling anti-competition practices by large businesses — to include the tech and health care industries, among others — and will either direct or encourage upward of a dozen agencies to develop policies supporting Biden’s new guidance.
- “That lack of competition drives up prices for consumers. As fewer large players have controlled more of the market, mark-ups (charges over cost) have tripled,” the White House said in a fact sheet it published ahead of Biden’s actual signing of the order.
- “Families are paying higher prices for necessities — things like prescription drugs, hearing aids, and internet service,” the statement adds.
What’s in Biden’s economic competition order?
The sweeping order directs agencies to “vigorously” focus their antitrust enforcement on labor, agriculture and health care markets and also tech companies and includes analyzing mergers that happened during the Trump administration, according to the White House’s fact sheet.
- That additional scrutiny will especially focus on Big Tech companies that “try to buy smaller companies that could one day become their competitors,” Business Insider reported.
- Biden’s directive encourages the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit noncompete agreements and “unnecessary occupational licensing” as a way to improve wages and competition for workers.
- The order also tells the Food and Drug Administration to develop a plan within 45 days to lower the cost of medications and to collaborate with state governments to import prescription medication from Canada, The Hill reported.
- The president, according to the White House fact sheet, also wants to make hearing aids an over-the-counter purchase, take steps to lower the cost of the internet, streamline airline refunds and ensure flyers are clearly made aware of fees airlines may tack on to the cost of a ticket.
Can Biden foster economic competition with an executive order?
The directive comes as the Biden administration embraces “warnings by some economists that declining competition is hobbling the economy’s vitality, raising prices and reducing choices for consumers in key areas, while dampening pay and restricting freedom to change jobs for workers,” The New York Times reported.
- The executive order alone will not be enough combat the decline of economic competition and the Biden administration will need to work with a narrowly divided Congress if it hopes to have more success than the former President Donald Trump White House did with their own, similar orders, experts told The New York Times.
- White House officials acknowledged to the Times the limitations of the directive, but added that the administration had chosen to take some actions to jumpstart competition.
We must address America’s monopoly problem by reimagining what the government can do to promote competition.— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) July 9, 2021
I commend President Biden for this groundbreaking Executive Order, that will help restore competition & build an economy that works for all Americans. https://t.co/vRMlvbgG83
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Right, said on Twitter Friday that Biden’s directive was “groundbreaking” and would “help restore competition & build an economy that works for all Americans.”
- “We must address America’s monopoly problem by reimagining what the government can do to promote competition,” the Democratic senator from Minnesota said in the tweet.