White House targets corporate giants in draft executive order

People said that the order was not finalized and has not yet been given to Biden.Monday's White House statement stated that President Trump has not made any decisions regarding signing such an order.Emilie Simons, White House spokesperson, stated that while the President declared his commitment to increasing American competition, including banning noncompete agreements for workers, and protecting farmers against abusive practices, there was no final decision.The U.S.'s competition problems are not limited to the tech sector. They require a wide-ranging public policy response, according to Diana Moss, president and CEO of American Antitrust Institute.Moss stated that competition issues in other crucial sectors like food/agriculture, telecoms, and airlines require more attention. We hope that the Biden EO will recognize that competition in all areas is essential to our markets, citizens and economy.The order directs the two United States antitrust agencies, Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to update their guidance regarding how they will examine corporate mergers. These include vertical mergers that involve companies that aren't directly competitors and have often attracted little attention from regulators like CVS Pharmacy's acquisition of Aetna, the health insurance company.In 2016, the Obama administration issued a similar order that required executive branch agencies promote competition and consumer access. However, few agencies followed through as the order was issued at the end of President Barack Obama's presidency.Biden's order is more than that. It includes specific suggestions for actions agencies should take such as how federal regulators should review bank deals. It seems likely that it will suggest that the Department of Transportation examine competition at capacity-constrained airfields. Other suggestions are directed at the Department of Agriculture or the Federal Communications Commission.Biden has already given a boost to efforts to increase competition and attack monopolies. He named Timothy Wu, a leading tech industry critic, to a key economics role in the White House. Lina Khan, an antitrust advocate, was appointed to lead the FTC. Khan is known for calling for the dissolution of tech giants such as Amazon. Biden also supported local governments offering broadband internet service to their citizens, which would challenge the dominance by providers like Comcast and Verizon.Wu and other Obama-era antitrust veterans asked the Biden administration for a commitment to the entire government to focus on competition. This was in response to a Washington Center for Equitable Growth report from last year. Heather Boushey, the former CEO of this group, is now a member in good standing of Biden's Council of Economic Advisors.Wu also advised Obama and wrote about how agencies can use their rulemaking authority in order to promote competition.Obama's 2016 order prompted the DOT proposal that airlines disclose baggage and change fees to passengers before they purchase their tickets. The rulemaking was later canceled by President Donald Trump's DOT.The specific policy recommendations for agencies are outlined in Biden's order to help avoid the same concerns that have plagued Trump and Obama about inappropriately directing policy at independent agencies like the FCC or FTC.Ryan Lizza contributed to the report.