President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday, July 9, to promote opportunities in the economy for all and to lower prices for consumers.
In a Fact Sheet issued by the White House prior to the President’s announcement, officials said the executive order calls for greater scrutiny of mergers across industries.
“President Biden is taking decisive action to reduce the trend of corporate consolidation, increase competition, and deliver concrete benefits to America’s consumers, workers, farmers, and small businesses,” officials noted in the White House factsheet.
The President has directed the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit non-compete deals that keep workers from resigning and joining another firm.
“The President believes that if someone offers you a better job, you should be able to take it. It makes sense,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki asserted.
The President also targets big tech companies, whom he said gather too much information on consumers, purchase potential competitors and unfairly compete with small businesses.
“Over the past 10 years, the largest tech platforms have acquired hundreds of companies—including alleged ‘killer acquisitions’ meant to shut down a potential competitive threat. Too often, federal agencies have not blocked, conditioned, or, in some cases, meaningfully examined these acquisitions,” officials wrote in the factsheet.
The executive order calls for greater scrutiny of mergers, new FTC rules to curb data collection and surveillance and rules to bar unfair competition on internet marketplaces.
The president has also asked federal agencies to find ways to reduce drug prices for consumers.
The order urges the agencies to work with states and tribes to import prescription drugs from Canada and increase support for generics.
The Department of Health and Human Services must issue a plan within 45 days to fight high prices and price gouging.
President Biden also directed the Department of Transportation to issue rules requiring airlines to refund consumer fees when their bags are late or when the plane’s WiFi doesn’t work.
The executive order directs the USDA to take steps to empower farmers, helping them access markets and compete with large corporations.
The order also encourages the FTC to keep big equipment manufacturers from blocking farmers’ ability to fix their own tractors.
President Biden also asked that the Federal Communications Commission take action to reduce the cost of internet service and give consumers more options.
The order calls on the FCC to:
- Prevent ISPs from making deals with landlords that limit tenants’ choices.
- Revive the “Broadband Nutrition Label” and require providers to report prices and subscription rates to the FCC.
- Limit excessive early termination fees.
- Restore Net Neutrality rules undone by the prior administration.
The Administration also wants more scrutiny of banking mergers, with the President urging the DOJ and financial regulators to update their guidelines.
“Excessive consolidation raises costs for consumers, restricts credit for small businesses, and harms low-income communities. Branch closures can reduce the amount of small business lending by about 10 percent and leads to higher interest rates,” officials wrote in the factsheet.
“Even where a customer has multiple options, it is hard to switch banks partly because customers cannot easily take their financial transaction history data to a new bank.”