More competition


Biden signs order targeting big business

By Aamer Madhani and Marcy Gordon - Associated Press



President Joe Biden hands out a pen Friday after signing an executive order aimed at promoting competition in the economy, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Standing from left, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Lina Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Attorney General Merrick Garland, National Economic Council director Brian Deese, obscured, and Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission.

President Joe Biden hands out a pen Friday after signing an executive order aimed at promoting competition in the economy, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Standing from left, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Lina Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Attorney General Merrick Garland, National Economic Council director Brian Deese, obscured, and Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission.


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday targeting what he labeled anticompetitive practices in tech, health care and other parts of the economy, declaring it would fortify an American ideal “that true capitalism depends on fair and open competition.”

The sweeping order includes 72 actions and recommendations that Biden said would lower prices for families, increase wages for workers and promote innovation and faster economic growth. However, new regulations that agencies may write to translate his policy into rules could trigger major legal battles.

The order includes calls for banning or limiting noncompete agreements to help boost wages, allowing rule changes that would pave the way for hearing aids to be sold over the counter at drugstores and banning 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.

At a White House signing ceremony, Biden said of some in big business: “Rather than competing for consumers they are consuming their competitors; rather than competing for workers they are finding ways to gain the upper hand on labor.”

“Let me be clear: Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation,” he said.

The White House said Biden’s order follows in the tradition of past presidents who took action to slow corporate power. Theodore Roosevelt’s administration broke up powerful trusts that had a grip on huge swaths of the economy, including Standard Oil and J.P. Morgan’s railroads. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration stepped up antitrust enforcement in the 1930s.

But experts noted that Biden’s sprawling presidential initiative is hardly a mandate on competition.

“This is really more of a blueprint or agenda than a traditional executive order,” said Daniel Crane, a law professor at the University of Michigan who focuses on antitrust. “This is a very broad and ambitious policy agenda for the Biden administration that offers lots of insights on the administration’s direction and priorities, but there could be many a slip between the cup and the lip.”

Biden’s order includes a flurry of consumer-pointed initiatives that could potentially lead to new federal regulations, but it also includes plenty of aspirational language that simply encourages agencies to take action meant to bolster worker and consumer protections.

Business and trade groups quickly expressed opposition, arguing that the order would stifle economic growth just as the U.S. economy is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Some of the actions announced today are solutions in search of a problem,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “They threaten to undo our progress by undermining free markets and are premised on the false notion that our workers are not positioned for success.”

The order seeks to address noncompete clauses — an issue affecting some 36 million to 60 million Americans, according to the White House — by encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit such agreements, ban unnecessary occupational licensing restrictions and strengthen antitrust guidance to prevent employers from collaborating to suppress wages or reduce benefits by sharing wage and benefit information with one another.

Noncompete agreements often stop workers in a variety of industries from going to other employers for higher pay. Biden noted that in some states even fast food franchises include such clauses for low-wage workers.

“Come on, are there trade secrets about what’s inside the patty?” Biden said.

The order also takes aim at tech giants Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon by calling for greater scrutiny of mergers, “especially by dominant internet platforms, with particular attention to the acquisition of nascent competitors, serial mergers, the accumulation of data, competition by ‘free’ products, and the effect on user privacy.”

President Joe Biden hands out a pen Friday after signing an executive order aimed at promoting competition in the economy, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Standing from left, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Lina Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Attorney General Merrick Garland, National Economic Council director Brian Deese, obscured, and Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/07/web1_AP21190665905598.jpgPresident Joe Biden hands out a pen Friday after signing an executive order aimed at promoting competition in the economy, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Standing from left, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Lina Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Attorney General Merrick Garland, National Economic Council director Brian Deese, obscured, and Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission.
Biden signs order targeting big business

By Aamer Madhani and Marcy Gordon

Associated Press

Post navigation