Business & Lobbying

Business groups bash Biden order targeting anti-competitive practices

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Prominent business groups on Friday criticized President Biden’s sweeping executive order that aims to promote competition in the economy and counter corporate consolidation.

Biden’s order targets several industries controlled by a small number of powerful companies in an attempt to crack down on “anti-competitive practices” that the administration says drive up prices for consumers, reduce workers’ bargaining power and stifle the growth of small businesses.

Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that the order “smacks of a ‘government knows best’ approach to managing the economy.”

“Our economy needs both large and small businesses to thrive — not centralized government dictates.” Bradley said. “In many industries, size and scale are important not only to compete, but also to justify massive levels of investment. Larger businesses are also strong partners that rely on and facilitate the growth of smaller businesses.” 

Biden’s order directs federal agencies to scrutinize mergers and acquisitions involving the nation’s largest companies, including tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google. It tasks the Federal Trade Commission with banning tech platforms’ “unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces” in an effort to help small businesses compete.

The order also directs federal agencies to work with states on importing lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, a move that is strongly opposed by the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. It also aims to ban “pay for delay” agreements where brand-name drug manufacturers pay competitors to delay the introduction of generic drugs.

In response, Steve Ubl, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said American patients “benefit from the world’s most competitive market for prescription medicines.”

“We support common sense solutions that would lower out-of-pocket costs for patients that don’t risk the health and safety of patients or undermine future innovation,” he said in a statement to The Hill.

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said some of Biden’s actions are “solutions in search of a problem” as the economy shows improvement.

“[T]hey threaten to undo our progress by undermining free markets and are premised on the false notion that our workers are not positioned for success,” he said in a statement.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki brushed aside the lobbying groups’ criticism, telling reporters that Biden “has a responsibility to act” to help middle class Americans when it comes to wages and rising prices.

“We understand some may be opposed to that and that’s OK, it’s a free country,” Psaki said at Friday’s press briefing.

The business groups’ rebuke of Biden’s policies come one day after they endorsed the president’s bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal alongside influential labor unions. Business groups are pushing Congress to pass the plan, which would not raise taxes on corporations.

Updated at 4:35 p.m.

Tags Executive Order Jen Psaki Joe Biden Lobbying National Association of Manufacturers U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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