President Joe Biden signed a wide-ranging executive order Friday afternoon aimed at minimizing the stranglehold of monopolies on certain industries and increasing competition among companies, which the White House believes will benefit consumers by driving down prices.
"The heart of American capitalism is a simple idea: open and 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. Better prices and services, new ideas and products. That competition keeps the economy moving and keeps it growing. Fair competition is why capitalism has been the world's greatest force of prosperity and growth," Biden said in remarks ahead of the order signing.
In a "competitive economy," companies must also compete for workers, he said.
"Offering higher wages, more flexible hours, better benefits. But 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," he continued. "Rather than competing for consumers, they are consuming their competitors. Rather than competing for workers, they're finding ways to gain the upper hand on labor. And too often, the government has actually made it harder for new companies to break in and compete."
Targeting air travel, labor practices, meat processing and more, the executive order contains 72 initiatives overseen by a dozen different government agencies.
Here is some of what's in the order:
"It's not right. Workers should be free to take a better job if someone offers it. If your employer wants to keep you, he or she should have to make it worth your while to stay. That's the kind of competition that leads to better wages and greater dignity of work," Biden said of non-compete agreements.
These items, in particular, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday, are "fulfilling [Biden's] campaign promise to promote competition in labor markets in order to raise wages and make it easier for workers to change jobs and to move between states."
The changes won’t be immediately evident to Americans since the executive order merely kicks off longer rule-making and regulatory processes. Some of the executive actions are only recommendations, especially on those areas governed by the FTC and FCC, which are meant to be independent agencies not obligated to carry out White House directives.
"Capitalism without competition isn't capitalism. It's exploitation," Biden said. "Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want, and treat you however they want. And for too many Americans, that means accepting a bad deal for things that can't go -- you can't go without."