President Joe Biden today unveiled a huge new executive order package that targets greedy corporations in general and Big Tech and Big Pharma in particular with a raft of new federal antitrust and pro-consumer regulations.
The White House announced a sweeping executive order Friday to promote competition throughout the U.S. economy, in the most ambitious effort in generations to reduce the stranglehold of monopolies and concentrated markets in major industries.
The order — whose details POLITICO first reported last week — also includes elements designed to lower the price of prescription drugs, protect consumers' privacy and increase scrutiny of abusive business tactics in the tech industry.
The effort marks a major push by President Joe Biden’s administration to focus on competition as part of the economic recovery from the pandemic. It also offers a response to progressives’ criticisms that the federal government has focused too much on supporting banks and other corporations without concern about the effect on consumers, who have watched their choices dwindle over the years.
Biden plans to sign the order at 1:30 p.m., the White House said.
The order’s impacts could be felt in industries including agriculture, airlines, health, broadband and banking. Previously unreported elements include a provision urging the Federal Communications Commission to reinstate its Obama-era net neutrality rules, as well as a call for financial regulators to allow data sharing among financial companies.
It dives into the specifics on some policy issues — for instance, by calling for over-the-counter sales of hearing aids, urging the Food and Drug Administration to allow imports of prescription drugs from Canada, and ending "exclusivity arrangements" in which landlords "stick tenants with only a single internet option," according to a nearly 4,000-word White House fact sheet issued Friday morning.
The White House said order will include initiatives to require airlines to refund fees to passengers who receive shoddy Wi-Fi service or baggage handling; restricting businesses’ ability to foist noncompete agreements on employees; challenge occupational licensing requirements that limit competition in industries like health care; and guarantee farmers and motorists the right to repair their own vehicles without voiding warranty protections. The last provision would also have implications for consumer products like Apple’s iPhones.
Top White House officials said the order seeks to ensure small businesses and consumers have access to fair markets.
“The overarching objective with the executive order is to make sure the president is encouraging competition in industries around the country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday.
Taking aim at just one industry the order will cover, Psaki added: “It doesn’t sound right to most people that there are three shipping companies that are dominating the market and upping and increasing costs for suppliers, small businesses, people across the country. That doesn’t sound right or fair, because it isn’t.”