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White House unveils sweeping antitrust push

·2-min read
US President Joe Biden plans to sign an executive order to promote competition in the US economy and bolster Washington's scrutiny of big mergers

Arguing US consumers and workers have been harmed by Washington's easy acceptance of corporate consolidation, President Joe Biden announced Friday a wide-ranging effort to bolster antitrust enforcement.

Biden plans to sign an executive order promoting competition in the American economy, encompassing everything from rulings on Big Tech mergers to airline ticket pricing and hearing aid purchases, the White House said Friday.

"For decades, corporate consolidation has been accelerating," according to a fact sheet released by the White House that described the initiative as "a whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy."

The document cited earlier moments in US history when presidents confronted corporate power, such as the trust busting push by President Theodore Roosevelt in the early 20th century that gave "the little guy a fighting chance."

The order outlines 72 initiatives across the federal government and announces the creation of a White House Competition council to monitor progress.

Among the measures, the order calls for greater scrutiny of mergers involving large tech companies, including so-called "killer acquisitions" that are meant to remove a competitive threat.

The plan also orders the Federal Trade Commission to establish rules on the surveillance and accumulation of data at tech firms and to ensure small businesses are given a better chance to compete with large companies that own and operate online retail marketplaces.

Other measures call for the Health and Human Services department to establish rules to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter and to ensure more transparent disclosure of airline baggage fees and other ancillary charges.

The policy also includes provisions to protect workers from being forced to sign non-compete agreements when starting a new job and to ensure better competition in the freight rail and maritime shipping industries.

jmb/cs

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