President Biden’s new executive order aimed at spurring competitiveness in the economy sets out new tasks for a dozen federal agencies in six dozen areas, in the latest illustration of the administration’s “whole of government” approaches to its initiatives. These include:
* Encouraging the Justice Department, the FTC to enforce antitrust laws “vigorously” with a particular focus on “labor markets, agricultural markets, healthcare markets (which includes prescription drugs, hospital consolidation, and insurance), and the tech sector.” They further were encouraged to strengthen antitrust guidance “to prevent employers from collaborating to suppress wages or reduce benefits by sharing wage and benefit information with one another.”
* Directing HHS to increase efforts to import prescription drugs for the Medicare program that are less expensive than prices charged in the U.S., and to increase support for lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs.
* Directing the Agriculture Department to consider issuing rules in areas to protect farmers and enhance their access to markets.
* Encouraging the FCC to prevent internet service providers from making deals with landlords that limit tenants’ choices, and require fuller disclosure of prices and subscription rates.
* Encouraging Justice and agencies involved with banking to “update guidelines on banking mergers to provide more robust scrutiny of mergers.”
The order also creates an interagency White House Competition to monitor progress on the initiatives and to coordinate the federal government’s “response to the rising power of large corporations in the economy.”