On Friday, President Joe Biden issued a new executive order aimed at increasing competition in various industries and targeting products and services such as airline refunds, Internet bills, hearing aids and more.
The executive order contains 72 actions and recommendations intended to promote innovation across different sectors of the economy from technology to healthcare to agriculture, thereby improving labor force conditions and reducing costs, according to a White House fact sheet.
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“The heart of American capitalism is a simple idea: open and fair competition,”
Here are some of the products and services that the Biden administration is targeting in an effort to increase competition and consumer choice:
The White House noted in its fact sheet that reduced competition among airlines has resulted in higher baggage and cancellation fees despite millions of cases of delayed baggage each year.
The administration instructs the DOT to consider issuing rules that require airlines to refund fees when baggage is delayed or when a service such as WiFi in flight does not work. It is also recommended that DOT implement rules that require that luggage, flight change and cancellation fees be “clearly communicated to the customer.”
Internet / broadband
The Biden administration believes that the breakdown of broadband services will increase competition, especially for Americans living in rural areas, giving consumers more options and reducing Internet costs.
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It calls on the FCC to ensure that ISPs offer reasonable prices by requiring them to report prices and subscription prices to the Commission and limit high early cancellation fees.
The administration also plans to re-implement the Obama-era “Net Neutrality” rules, which essentially treated ISPs and cable companies as public utilities and exposed them to various rules that prevented prioritization of certain types of content.
Biden wants hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter to reduce costs for Americans with hearing impairments.
The administration is asking the Department of Health and Human Services to consider issuing a proposal within 120 days to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter. It also urges HHS to draw up a 45-day plan to “combat high prescription drug prices and price cuts.”
Telephone and computer repairs
The president is also taking on Big Tech by establishing “an administration policy” to investigate mergers between small tech companies and tech giants that could rule out competition and consumer opportunities. He also encourages the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to monitor the collection of user data and the monitoring of consumers by large technology companies.
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Finally, the administration also urges the FTC to implement “anti-competitive rules for the use of independent workshops or the performance of DIY repairs” of technology devices and equipment, such as smartphones. Independent phone and computer repair shops have urged technology giants like Apple to change their rules for repair providers.
Repairs of agricultural equipment
Biden urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider implementing new rules under the Packer and Stockyard Act; clarify the rules for which products can be labeled as “Product of USA” and restrict agricultural equipment manufacturers from restricting farmers’ ability to carry out their own repairs, among other initiatives aimed at increasing competition in agriculture and the success of small businesses.
The White House mentioned “tractor companies” that “block farmers from repairing their own tractors,” which may be a reference to John Deere, who does not allow “unauthorized” independent repairs, and who uses unique software locks that make tractors unusable if they are determined by non-John Deere technicians, according to Vice.
“Let me be very clear: capitalism without competition is not capitalism. It is exploitation,” Biden said Friday. “Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge what they want and treat you no matter what they want. And for many Americans, that means accepting a bad deal for things you can not do without. So we know we have a problem, a big problem. But we also have an incredible opportunity. “
Progressive lawmakers celebrated the jam-packed executive order, while business groups and Republicans smashed it as detrimental to the free market.
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Senator Elizabeth Warren, a staunch consumer advocate, praised the executive order as a “critical” step in protecting working-class Americans and called on Congress to pass legislation codifying the measure into law.
But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a blatant statement that the directive “tastes of a ‘government at best’ approach to managing the economy” and promised to “strongly oppose calls for government-set prices, burdensome and legally dubious rules, efforts to address innovative industries such as public utilities and the politicization of monopoly enforcement. “
Fox Business’ Megan Henney, Charlie Gasparino and Lydia Moynihan contributed to this report.