Biden signs competition act aimed at tech, labor, farming, health care

More than 70 actions and recommendations involving more than a dozen federal agencies

President Joe Biden signed a new executive order Friday aimed at cracking down on monopolies in Big Tech, labor and other sectors.

The order, called Promoting Competition in the American Economy, includes more than 70 actions and recommendations involving more than a dozen federal agencies, according to a White House fact sheet.

“The impulse for this executive order is really around where can we encourage greater competition across the board,” White House chief economic adviser Brian Deese told CNBC on Friday morning.

»Read the White House fact sheet here

The order, according to POLITICO, is designed to push back against criticisms from progressives and liberals the federal government has focused too much on supporting banks and other corporations without worrying about negative consumer impact.

“Today’s historic executive order established a whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy,” the White House said Friday morning. “The order includes 72 initiatives by more than a dozen federal agencies to promptly tackle some of the most pressing competition problems across our economy. Once implemented, these initiatives will result in concrete improvements to people’s lives.”

The order calls on the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to enforce the antitrust laws and recognizes the law allows them to challenge so-called “prior bad mergers” that past administrations didn’t challenge. It also announces a policy that enforcement should focus specifically on labor markets, agricultural markets, health care markets (including prescription drugs, hospital consolidation and insurance), and the tech sector.

Biden also will establish a White House Competition Council, led by Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, to monitor progress on finalizing the order’s initiatives and to coordinate the federal government’s response to the rising power of large corporations in the economy.

“The overarching objective with the executive order is to make sure the president is encouraging competition in industries around the country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

The new order, according to POLITICO, is the product of months of negotiations among White House officials, particularly Tim Wu — who served on former President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council and is now a Biden aide focused on technology and competition policy — along with the Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and other federal agencies.