Biden says administration tackling anti-competitive practices

Associated Press/Andrew Harnik

President Biden on Monday said his administration is taking on anti-competitive practices, pointing to enforcement against illegal repair restrictions, actions for hearing aids to be sold over the counter and ramped up efforts to scrutinize mergers.

The president gave an update to the sweeping executive order he signed in July, which aimed to promote competition in the economy through 72 initiatives.

He said that every deadline the order called for was met in the six months since it was issued, during a meeting with the Competition Council, which was created through the order.

“Bottom line is our economy shouldn’t be about people working for capitalism, it should be about capitalism working for people, for everyone,” Biden said at the meeting at the White House.

He said the council is working to make a difference “in ordinary people’s lives.” When the order was released in July, the administration said that anti-competitive practices across industries have driven up prices, made it harder for employees to bargain for a better wage and stunted economic growth. 

Listing examples of progress to bolster competition, Biden said the Federal Trade Commission has ramped up enforcement against illegal repair restrictions. 

“Too many areas, if you own a product from a smartphone to a tractor, you don’t have the freedom to choose how or where to repair that item you purchased. It’s broke, well what do I do about it? If it’s broke you had to go to the deal and you had to pay the dealers cost,” Biden said.

He noted that since the administration has been cracking down on the issue, companies have voluntarily changed their policies, including Apple and Microsoft, which are now letting people repair phones and computers themselves.

“Although I’m not sure I know how to do that,” he said, referring to fixing his phone, adding that he calls his daughter when he has a problem with it. 

He also noted that in October, the Food and Drug Administration released a rule to make it possible for hearing aids to be sold over the counter.

Additionally, he said the Department of Justice and other agencies with oversight authority have ramped up efforts to scrutinize mergers.

“In too many industries, big companies … can use their power to squeeze out smaller competitors, stifle new competition, raise prices, reduce the choice for customers, and exploit their workers,” Biden said.

More updates are coming on progress to bolster competition, especially regarding the cost of food for Americans, Biden said.

“In the coming weeks and months, Americans can expect to see more protections for farmers and ranchers selling products like beef, pork and poultry. More options and better prices for consumers. More clarity on the prices you will pay for high speech internet and airline tickets,” he said.

And he said his administration is working on cracking down on noncompete clauses, which the president has made a focus of his administration’s competition efforts.

Tags Anti-competitive practices Joe Biden

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