Biden to sign sweeping order to boost competition in the U.S. economy

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to sign a sweeping executive order Friday aimed at cracking down on corporate consolidation and encouraging competition in the U.S. economy, the White House said.

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The executive order includes 72 initiatives across more than a dozen government agencies that address anti-competitive practices in the health care, transportation, banking and tech industries, according to a White House release.

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Families across the country are paying high prices for such things as internet service, prescription drugs and hearing aids, the White House said. Biden’s executive order seeks to ultimately “lower prices for families, increase wages for workers, and promote innovation and even faster economic growth,” it said.

Under the order, the federal government would ban or limit non-compete agreements to make it easier for people to switch jobs. It encourages the Federal Communications Commission to ban “excessive” fees for early termination of internet service and to prevent these providers from “making deals with landlords that limit tenants’ choices,” the fact sheet said.

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The order will also direct the Department of Transportation to issue rules that require airlines to clearly disclose fees on luggage and flight changes and requiring they refund fees when service isn’t provided or baggage is delayed.

To reduce health care costs, the order will ask the FDA to work with states and tribes to import prescription drugs from Canada. It will also direct the Department of Health and Human Services to propose rules that would allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter.

Biden’s order will direct his administration to scrutinize mergers of big tech platforms more closely and would allow the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to “challenge prior bad mergers that past administrations did not previously challenge.” The order will also encourage the FTC to create rules on the accumulation of personal information and other data by these companies and would restore net neutrality rules that were undone during the Trump administration.

In the agricultural sector, the order will address anticompetitive industry practices with new rules aimed at making it easier for farmers to bring lawsuits, prohibiting the underpayment of chicken farmers and requiring transparency in meat labeling.

The president’s order will also form a White House Competition Council that will monitor progress on these initiatives.

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