Biden signs executive order that targets big tech and aims to boost competition in the U.S. economy

The sweeping ordinance aims to lower prescription drug prices, ban or limit non-compete agreements that the White House says hamper economic mobility and crack down on Big Tech and Internet service providers, among several other provisions.

“Today, I will shortly be signing the executive order encouraging competition to lower prices, raise wages and take another critical step towards an economy that works for everyone,” Biden told the White House.

The president said: “The heart of American capitalism is a simple idea: open and fair competition. It means that if your companies want to win your business, they have to go out and they have to improve their game.”

“Let me be very clear: capitalism without competition is not capitalism. It is exploitation,” Biden said.

The president said, “Without healthy competition, the big players can change and charge what they want and treat you the way they want. And for too many Americans, that means accepting a bad deal for things you can’t. not pass you by. So we know we “I have a problem, a major problem. But we also have an incredible opportunity. “

The ordinance aims to stimulate competition in broadband by encouraging the Federal Communications Commission to reintroduce a “nutrition label” for Internet service providers, which would give consumers clearer information about a provider’s services. It calls on the FCC to restrict early termination fees and ban exclusivity agreements that currently restrict apartment buildings and other rental units to a single Internet provider.

He also calls on the FCC to reinstate the agency’s net neutrality rules for broadband companies that would prohibit them from selectively blocking, slowing or speeding up websites. These rules, approved under the Obama administration, were reduced under the Trump FCC. Restoring the rules would likely spark another legal battle on the issue.

The order also expands Biden’s assault on big tech companies like Amazon and Facebook. It establishes an administration-wide policy to more carefully review mergers, including completed mergers. It focuses on so-called “murderous acquisitions” involving nascent competitors, the kind of deal critics say Facebook made when it bought Instagram and WhatsApp.

It targets a key Silicon Valley business model: the collection and use of large amounts of consumer data, and the incentive for tech companies with multiple industries to cross-promote their own services across the board. detriment of competition.

“We have to go back to an economy that grows from the bottom up and from the middle out,” Biden said. “The decree that I will soon sign commits the federal government to fully and aggressively enforce our antitrust laws. More tolerance for abusive actions by monopolies, no more bad mergers that lead to mass layoffs, higher prices, less options for workers and consumers alike. “

The ink was barely dry on the order that some progressive groups began to wonder when the White House will occupy a key antitrust post in the Department of Justice.

The deputy attorney general of the antitrust division is among the myriad of vacancies. This office is responsible for the execution of the executive decree.

“Can all of this be implemented effectively without an AAG for antitrust?” Said a senior Democratic official, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid directly criticizing the administration. “No, that’s not possible.”

A senior White House official, when asked about the criticisms, said there was no time estimate for announcing a candidate for the post, which is now filled by an acting deputy attorney general.

This post, among many other vacancies in government, is something we need to keep an eye on. It’s a bit of a reality check of the executive decree – even among groups that fully support it.

Biden’s order also calls on the Federal Trade Commission to create new rules on data collection and to ban unfair competition in online marketplaces. He also endorsed a principle known as the “right to repair,” calling for FTC rules prohibiting tech makers from suing independent repair shops or preventing consumers from trying to fix their own. devices.

Biden will further call on federal regulators to create rules to curtail non-compete agreements and ban unnecessary business licensing requirements, which the White House says impede economic mobility. The president will also encourage the FTC and the Justice Department to strengthen antitrust guidelines to prevent employers from collaborating to cut wages or cut benefits by sharing information about wages and benefits.

“Workers should be free to take a better job if someone offers it to them. If your employer wants to keep you, they should make it worth it. It’s the kind of competition that leads to better wages and greater dignity. working, ”Biden said.

Biden’s executive order also continues a historic push by the Trump administration to allow states to import prescription drugs from Canada, where government regulations reduce drug costs. He orders the Food and Drug Administration to work with states to safely import drugs, which Biden had backed during his presidential campaign.

However, many obstacles remain before this becomes a reality.

Several states, including Florida, have expressed interest in importing drugs to reduce costs. But Canada objected to the idea, and experts question whether the country has enough supply to significantly reduce drug prices in the United States. The manufacturers have also filed a lawsuit to stop the effort.

The executive order also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to release a 45-day plan to tackle high prescription drug prices and rising prices. Democrats in Congress have also framed efforts to cut drug prices, which is one of Americans’ top health care complaints.

The executive order includes 72 initiatives from more than a dozen federal agencies, according to the White House. One such initiative calls on the US Department of Health and Human Services to consider issuing proposed rules within 120 days to allow the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids.

“After these rules come into effect, a pair of hearing aids could cost hundreds of dollars, not thousands. And you can pick them up at your local drugstore,” Biden said.

It is also cracking down on shipping costs for businesses and prescription drug costs for Americans. He’ll order the Department of Transportation to make rules requiring airlines to reimburse you when in-flight WiFi isn’t working. It also orders the USDA to issue new rules providing new protections for farmers and new rules defining “Product of the United States” labels.

“Fair competition is what has made America the richest, most innovative nation in history. That’s why people come here to invent things and start new businesses,” Biden said.

The president said, “In competing against China and other 21st century nations, let’s show that American democracy and the American people can really outperform anyone, because I know that just given half a chance, the American people will never, never, ever let their country down. “

This story has been updated with additional information.

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