Joe Biden’s Executive Order on ‘Promoting Competition’ Covers Everything From Farmers Markets to Net Neutrality
Biden attempts to substitute presidential power for the legislative process again. A new White House antitrust order exemplifies one of the worst presidential trends: a proclivity for unilateral executive action, even when Congress is on the cusp of considering the same thing.
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have been considering a slew of changes to American antitrust policy. There are a lot of reasons to be wary of these measures, but at least—should they pass—they’ll have been the subject of deliberation and voting by elected officials. In contrast, President Joe Biden’s new “Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy” simply tells federal agencies to make a slew of changes in line with the president’s values.
The good news is that—like so many of former President Donald Trump’s executive orders—Biden is wading into territory he doesn’t actually have the power to control and, therefore, much of his executive bloviating is technically toothless. There’s a lot of the word encourages thrown about. The bad news is that presidential encouragement to federal agencies still has a way of becoming bureaucratic policy.
Not all of the encouragement is bad. For instance, Biden “encourages the [Federal Trade Commission (FTC)] to ban unnecessary occupational licensing restrictions that impede economic mobility.” This is one area where U.S. antitrust policy does have a lot of room for improvement.
Another bit of positive encouragement: Biden is directing the Department of Health and Human Services “to consider issuing proposed rules within 120 days for allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter.”
It also touches on “right to repair” rules, encouraging the FTC to limit “equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs—such as when tractor companies block farmers from repairing their own tractors” and to “issue rules against anticompetitive restrictions on using independent repair shops or doing DIY repairs of your own devices and equipment.”
But Biden also urges more burdensome meddling in private business practices and more aggressive federal involvement in many aspects of U.S. markets. For instance, the order “encourages the FTC to ban or limit non-compete agreements” and to establish new rules on internet user data
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