President Biden will sign an executive order Friday afternoon that takes aim at what the White House describes as the growing problem of corporate consolidation in U.S. and the higher prices, lower wages and reduced choice it imposes on workers and consumers.

The move is the latest salvo in a deepening war between the federal and state governments and big business over monopoly power and anticompetitive practices, and one the Biden administration hopes will boost the economic prospects of Americans without adding to the already substantial federal budget deficit.

Here are the 7 markets his plan will target:


The executive order will target policies and laws that prevent qualified workers from easily starting a new career or switching jobs within an industry in search of higher wages or better benefits and working conditions.

According the bipartisan Economic Innovation Group, about 20% of all workers in America are covered by non-compete agreements that bar them from searching for work with a competitor of their employer, preventing them from seeking higher pay at those companies.

These agreements typically apply to wealthier workers, but EIG’s analysis showed that between 12% and 25% of workers making less than $80,000 a year are subject to these agreements, with government investigations revealing that even some fast food purveyors have banned their employees from seeking employment at competitors.

Biden will direct the Federal Trade Commission to ban or restrict the use non-compete agreements.


According to the White House, Biden will “direct the Food and Drug Administration to work with states and tribes to safely import prescription drugs from Canada,” though it doesn’t mention that the Trump Administration actually began this push through rule making at the Department of Health and Human Services last year.

In May the Biden administration indicated that the FDA was not in a hurry to work with states on this issue, saying in a court filing that “no timeline exists” for the agency to approve state plans to import drugs. Critics say, meanwhile, that importing drugs from Canada will do little to lower drug prices in America, and that more aggressive action, like directly regulating prices, will be the only effective strategy.

Biden will also direct the Federal Trade Commission to create a rule banning the practice of large drug companies paying generic manufacturers to delay the development of generic versions of their drugs. It should be noted that the agency has said that this practice peaked in use in 2014 and that FTC court actions and state laws like one recently enacted in California have been curtailing it in recent years.


The order largely focuses on the airline industry, with the White House noting that just four commercial airlines control about two-thirds of the U.S. market. In a fact sheet explaining the executive order, it links recent consolidation in the industry with its ability to charge ever higher fees on things like ticket cancellation and baggage.

President Biden will direct the Department of Transportation to “consider” rules requiring airlines to refund fees on baggage when its delivery is delayed and for these fees to be clearly disclosed to its customers.


In May, the FTC issued a report to Congress describing the need for action to combat so-called “right to repair” policies used by American manufacturers — notably manufacturers or farming equipment like Deere & Co.

and Caterpillar Inc.

— that ban users of products from repairing those products at third-party entities.

The Biden order calls on the FTC to follow recommendations it made in the report to “consider reinvigorated regulatory and law enforcement options” to combat this practice, which is also widespread in the market for smartphones and other high-tech products.

Internet Service

Internet service providers like Comcast

and Verizon

are often able to raise revenues by brokering “special deals with landlords of apartment complexes and other multiple tenant environments that ensure only one ISP can serve the building’s tenants—even if multiple ISPs are equipped to serve the building,” according to a report by the think tank New America.

While the Federal Communications Commission has previously tried to ban these agreements, they have returned in the form of revenue-sharing deals, bulk billing arrangements and exclusive wiring deals, New America explained.

Biden’s order will direct the FCC to review this issue and ban these new arrangements, as well as limit termination fees that prevent many internet users from switching providers.


Dominant tech platforms have won the ire of both Democrats and Republicans in Washington, and several bipartisan antitrust bills have been put forward in Congress to beef up funding for antitrust enforcers and reform antitrust law.

Though there remains disagreement about what exactly should be done, both parties want greater oversight of tech firms like Facebook

and Google

when it comes to their acquisition of nascent competitors and the collection of user data.

The Biden order will direct the Department of Justice and the FTC to more aggressively scrutinize “mergers, especially by dominant internet platforms, with particular attention to the acquisition of nascent competitors, serial mergers, the accumulation of data, competition by ‘free’ products, and the effect on user privacy.”


FInally, the Biden administration expressed concern about consolidation in the banking industry, noting that the past twenty years have seen the disappearance of 10,000 banks and the growth in size of America’s very largest banks.

“Though subject to federal review federal agencies have not formally denied a bank merger application in more than 15 years,” the White House said in a fact sheet explaining the executive order.

President Biden will direct regulators to “provide more robust scrutiny of mergers.”

Critics, however, allege that banking consolidation in the past decade has largely been the result of new regulations like the Dodd-Frank financial reform, which have given advantage to larger institutions that can handle regulatory costs more ably than small ones. Meanwhile, the lack of new banking charters being issued by state and federal regulators is likely just as much of factor in reduced bank competition as mergers are, the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission said in a recent report.

The big picture

While the executive order could be a means to rally government agencies to Biden’s pro-competition banner, many of the order’s directives are already being pursued by the agencies, and the more important moves to watch in this sphere are Biden’s yet-to-be named nominees to head the DOJ’s antitrust division and for a soon-to-be open seat on the FTC.

“In our view, the timing of the order can be, in part, explained as a messaging tool in the near term for the White House to demonstrate a bias for action despite Biden being slow to make his regulatory appointments,” analysts from Beacon Policy Advisors said in a Friday research note.

“Importantly though,” they added, “The order will give the political cover necessary to the executive branch agencies to not only comply with Biden’s order but also explore previously underutilized authorities to pursue antitrust enforcement.”

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