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Biden's expansive executive order as it relates to consumers.

Byline: Rachel Siegel and Cat Zakrzewski The Washington Post

WASHINGTON President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive action that seeks to rein in corporate powerhouses and boost competition across a slew of major industries.

The sprawling action, which includes 72 different directives, is meant to address growing concerns from Democrats about corporate consolidation in the U.S. economy and add scrutiny to the ways airline fees, prescription drug costs and Internet service are priced.

Why is Biden doing this?

The Biden administration argues that corporate consolidation across the U.S. economy leads to higher prices and ultimately leaves consumers with few options for where to spend their money.

At the same time, the White House says less competition at the corporate level also pushes wages down. Airline workers or hospital employees, for example, may have limited options for places to work, giving them less bargaining power when it comes to higher pay.

There are also political influences at play. Concerns about monopolies and consolidation are not just rallying cries for those farthest on the left. Rather, antitrust debates now play a major role in Democratic politics.

Biggest impact?

The order points to prescription drugs, health insurance, airlines and internet service as major areas of focus. The upshot appears to be that the White House wants federal agencies to give consumers more power to claw back fees that big companies charge, arguing that consumers have little leverage to fight back against mandatory fees or certain restrictions.

On drug prices, the order directs health officials to work with states on ways to import medicines safely from Canada, where they are sold at lower prices. It also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to consider issuing proposed rules that allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter, a change that would make them much more accessible to consumers.

The Department of Transportation is also encouraged to consider rules that would require airlines to refund fees when bags are delayed, or when services, like in-flight entertainment, are expected but not actually provided. The order also encourages DOT to consider rules requiring airlines to clearly disclose fees tied to baggage or cancellations.

The Biden executive order takes direct aim at the ways that tech companies have solidified their dominance and influence in Americans' lives. If federal regulators adopt these recommendations, it may be harder for big companies like Facebook to buy up rising rivals, like Instagram.

The order also recommends new rules to stop "unfair methods of competition" in online marketplaces.

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Title Annotation:Business wire_
Author:Rachel Siegel and Cat Zakrzewski The Washington Post
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jul 10, 2021
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