Biden signs sweeping order to bolster US competition, target big business
President Biden on Friday signed a far-reaching executive order to end anti-competitive practices, calling the lack of competition in the U.S. economy a “major problem.”
“The heart of American capitalism is a simple idea: open, fair competition. That means that if your companies want to win your business, they have to go out and they have to up their game,” Biden said at the White House.
Biden called himself a proud capitalist, mentioning that his home state of Delaware is where many businesses incorporate, but emphasized that “capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism — it’s exploitation.”
The order signed by the president will direct more than a dozen federal agencies to implement 72 initiatives to promote competition in the U.S. It aims to bolster competition and make broadband services affordable, encourage innovation and competition among tech companies, and address prescription drug pricing.
“What we’ve seen over the past few decades is less competition and more concentration that holds our economy back. We see it in big agriculture, in big tech, in big pharma — the list goes on. Rather than competing for consumers, they are consuming their competitors. Rather than competing for workers, they are finding ways to gain the upper hand on labor,” Biden said.
For example, he noted that more than 65 million Americans live in a place with only one high-speech internet provider.
The president focused on a provision of the order that would limit or ban non-compete clauses for workers. He said that one in three businesses in the U.S. require a worker to sign a non-compete agreement.
He also focused on a provision that would ban unnecessary occupational licensing restrictions, saying that it has a large effect on military families.
“Look, it can’t be a significant burden to get a new license in a new state. That burden can’t be around anymore,” he said.
The order would also allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter at drug stores, make it easier for people to get refunds from airlines and issue new rules defining what meat can be labeled “Product of USA,” among other provisions.
“We know we have a problem, a major problem. We also have an incredible opportunity. We can bring back more competition to more of the country, helping entrepreneurs and small businesses get into the game, helping workers get a better deal, helping families save money every month,” Biden said.
The president signed the order while flanked by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland, among others.