President Biden signed an executive order Friday that’s intended to promote fairer business competition in the United States — and includes more than 70 different initiatives across several economic sectors, including technology and healthcare.
The White House said Biden’s order aims to address agriculture, banking and the Internet and will set federal-level rules to affect all corners of the economy — “to reduce the trend of corporate consolidation,” help small businesses compete and benefit American consumers and workers.
“The heart of American capitalism is a simple idea: open and fair competition,” Biden said at the White House. “That means that if your companies want to win your business, they have to go out and they have to up their game.
“Let me be very clear: Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation.”
The order bans or sets limits for non-compete agreements, supports programs that safely import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, allows hearing aids to be sold over the counter and makes it easier for travelers to get refunds from airlines and shop for flights.
Biden’s action also seeks to increase competition, make Internet broadband service more affordable and stimulate innovation and competition among tech companies.
“[A] 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. “Families are paying higher prices for necessities — things like prescription drugs, hearing aids, and Internet service.
The order bans excessive early termination fees, requires clear disclosure of Internet plan costs and ends landlord exclusivity arrangements for tenants. It also urges regulators to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules, a principle that calls for providers to give access to all websites and content at the same speed.
Among the many goals of the initiatives are:
- Making it easier to change jobs and raise wages by banning or limiting “unnecessary, cumbersome occupational licensing requirements that impede economic mobility.”
- Making it easier and less expensive to change banks by requiring institutions to allow customers to take their financial transaction information with them to a competitor.
- Increasing opportunities for small businesses by directing federal agencies to promote greater competition.
- Establishing a White House Competition Council to monitor progress and coordinate the federal response to the “rising power of large corporations.”
- Encouraging regulators and the Justice Department to strengthen antitrust guidance to “prevent employers from collaborating to suppress wages or reduce benefits by sharing wage and benefit information with one another.”
- Bolstering hospital price transparency rules and finish federal legislation to address surprise hospital billing.
- Preventing Internet service providers from making deals with landlords that limit tenants’ choices.
- Restoring Net Neutrality rules “undone by the prior administration.”