What's in Biden's sweeping new antitrust executive order

·1 min read

On Friday, President Biden signed a broad executive order aimed at reducing corporate consolidation, increasing competition, and offering benefits for consumers, workers, and small business, The New York Times and Axios report.

"Today I'm going to be signing ... an executive order promoting competition. To lower prices. To increase wages. To take another critical step toward an economy that works for everybody," said Biden. The president, a self-proclaimed "proud capitalist," asserted that the "heart of American capitalism" is a simple idea — "open and fair competition."

Most notably, Biden's 72-action plan takes aim at restrictive employee noncompete agreements; requires airlines to refund passengers for poor Wi-Fi and baggage handling; calls for over-the-counter sales of hearing aids; and guarantees the right for farmers and motorists to "repair their own vehicles without voiding warranty protections," among other initiatives, Politico writes.

The order also goes "a step beyond" a similar one issued by former President Barack Obama in 2016 by "offering pointed suggestions" for steps agencies can take, rather than leaving implementation entirely up to agencies themselves, per Politico. Moreover, the few agencies that responded to the Obama administration's prodding in 2016 "saw their actions largely overturned" by the following administration.

But Biden's agenda is a "wish list progressives and other pro-competition advocates have been promoting for years," David Segal, the executive director of the group Demand Progress, told the Times. The policies might not "miraculously transform inequality in this country," but they will help, countered Jason Furman, an economic adviser in the Obama administration.

Regardless, Biden is optimistic. "Imagine if we give everyone a full and fair chance," the president mused. "That's what this is all about. That's what I'm about to do."

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