Thank you. It’s an honor to be joining you. For two years, I’ve watched from afar as President Biden led a sea change in competition policy. I’m delighted to inherit the mantle from Brian Deese and lead the White House Competition Council during this historic moment for the anti-monopoly movement. We’re going to build on our momentum and finish the job of strengthening competition after decades of consolidation in our economy.
I want to thank Senator Klobuchar for her leadership on these issues—especially with regard to Big Tech. I hope that we can work together to make legislative progress. As President Biden recently said in his Wall Street Journal op-ed, it’s time for Congress to show the nation we can get the job done on bipartisan proposals to protect our privacy and our children and to tackle anticompetitive conduct so that America’s innovative start-ups and small businesses can thrive.
The central role of healthy competition is a core tenet of economic theory: Competition means more and better choices, lower prices, higher wages, and more innovation and productivity. Competitive market structures mean a more resilient economy—so that shocks don’t paralyze the entire system when a few suppliers or middlemen become chokepoints.
But competition is not just important in theory. What President Biden and the anti-monopoly movement have long recognized is that competition is a fundamental American value—the beating heart of capitalism. It cannot be left to expert arguments about efficiency. Too much is at stake.
Promoting competition is a key pillar of the President’s economic agenda. President Biden has been talking about the competition problems in our economy since well before he became President. Promoting competition on a level playing field is central to his vision for an American economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out.
Competition is key to the President’s vision for an economy where any entrepreneur or small business with a great idea can compete on the merits and succeed, where workers have bargaining power, where consumers are treated fairly, and where rural communities all over the country can flourish.
The importance of promoting competition is not an abstract concept—it is all too real for many Americans every day. When the only emergency room in your area closes after a merger, or when there’s no affordable internet in your area, or when your tractor breaks down and you can’t fix it—these are the ways that ordinary Americans experience the high levels of market power in our economy every day.
That’s why in July 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order to Promote Competition in the American Economy, directing every agency to use all available authorities to promote competition. It turned the page on forty years of growing consolidation and restored the American ideal that true capitalism depends on fair and open competition.
Recognizing that the antitrust enforcement agencies are the cops on the beat, President Biden nominated strong, capable leaders at the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice—Chair Khan, Commissioner Bedoya, Commissioner Slaughter, Attorney General Garland, and Assistant Attorney General Kanter—who are committed to robust and fair enforcement of the antitrust laws.
And we’re proud to have secured significantly increased funding for our antitrust enforcement agencies—up about $120 million more annually after remaining flat for years.
But restoring competition after decades of consolidation also means making promoting competition the mission of the whole of government, not just our antitrust enforcement agencies.
For example, you’ll hear later today from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra and Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about how their agencies are working to promote competition by banning junk fees. This is an example of how, by enlisting agencies beyond the traditional antitrust enforcement agencies, we’re able to expand competition policy to new frontiers.
To help implement this institutional sea change, President Biden established the White House Competition Council—a Council that meets with him twice a year and brings together all of the agency heads to collaborate with one another and to report to the President on their efforts. To succeed at that mission, we must work together across government to ensure the voices of consumers, workers, farmers and ranchers, small businesses and entrepreneurs are heard.
The members of the anti-monopoly movement who are here today are vital to this mission. Thank you for all of your work bringing those voices to the table. Thank you for your work organizing consumers, workers, farmers and ranchers, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Thank you for your years of research and advocacy, and for your efforts to enact change at the local, state, and federal level.
Since the President signed his Executive Order in July 2021, the Administration has made enormous progress. We’re delivering for consumers, with actions that lower prices and help create opportunities for innovative new products to come to market.
For example, the FDA changed its regulations so that hearing aids for mild-to-moderate hearing loss can be sold over-the-counter. Thanks to that initiative, they’re now on shelves in stores. That’s lowering hearing aid costs by as much as $3,000 per pair, and making hearing aids more accessible to the nearly 30 million Americans with hearing loss, including nearly 10 million adults under age 60.
The junk fee efforts I mentioned are likewise lowering costs now. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s actions to crack down on junk fees have already started saving Americans billions of dollars in unfair fees. Fifteen of the twenty largest banks have now ended bounced check fees altogether.
We’re also seeing consumer products become cheaper and easier to repair. After President Biden endorsed the “right to repair,” Apple and Microsoft announced they would allow people to fix their own devices. And the Federal Trade Commission has successfully secured settlements making it easier to repair grills, motorcycles, and generators.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s new approach to competition is delivering for workers, too. For example, the Federal Trade Commission has launched a rulemaking to ban non-compete agreements, which it estimates that, if finalized as proposed, would increase wages by nearly $300 billion per year and expand career opportunities for about 30 million Americans. Every worker should have the freedom to switch to a better job.
Small Business Majority recently announced its support for the proposed rule to ban non-competes. They cited research showing nearly two thirds of small businesses favor a ban on non-competes because they create barriers in hiring employees or even launching new businesses.
Our pro-competitive efforts are also delivering for farmers and ranchers. Thanks to the Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain—known as the “Meat Action Plan,” today independent processors are using Department of Agriculture grants to expand their operations to give farmers, ranchers, and consumers more and better options. And the Department is hard at work getting new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act in place to stop meat processors’ abuse of farmers and ranchers—with more rulemakings coming soon.
These efforts are delivering for small businesses and entrepreneurs, who create jobs, drive innovation, give our towns and cities spirit and a sense of community, and bring people together. America’s small businesses employ nearly half of all private sector workers. They account for half of our gross domestic product. And they’ve accounted for over 60% of net new job creation since 1995.
Our pro-competition agenda is critical to the health of our small businesses. Thanks to the more than $450 billion in rapid economic relief we delivered to mom-and-pop businesses across the country, and our ongoing efforts to expand access to capital and counseling services, the nation has been experiencing a small business boom. Americans filed nearly 10.5 million applications to start new businesses in 2021 and 2022—the two highest years on record for new business formation. These small businesses have created 3.1 million jobs since the President took office.
I want to close by touching on how promoting competition fits into our broader industrial strategy. We’re seeing a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S., spurred by the President’s Investing in America agenda—the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Part of this record investment in domestic manufacturing is due to incentives that finally put U.S. manufacturers on a level playing field, but part of it is a fundamental rethinking by businesses about their supply chains in the wake of the COVID pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine. CEOs have been clear—they need diversified suppliers and supply chains, including new domestic production, to ensure that they are resilient to global shocks.
When President Biden took office, he signed an executive order directing a first-of-its-kind review of supply chains for critical products and our industrial base. These reviews found that geographic and sole-source concentration of production are a vulnerability for our economic security. As we build out the domestic productive capacity of our economy, we must ensure that we are supporting a competitive ecosystem.
This will be key to spurring the innovation necessary to tackle the climate crisis. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established an Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations to take early-stage firms and technologies to commercialization—lab to market. These projects will be supported by the long-term policy certainty from the Inflation Reduction Act tax credits that will allow new entrants to thrive and compete. Constant innovation and improvement through competition will be essential for catching up and leapfrogging global competitors in clean energy technologies, particularly where we have nascent capacity in the U.S.
President Biden—with your support—has fundamentally changed not only the conversation, but our economic trajectory. That said, changing course following decades of increasing consolidation in our economy is a significant task. So let me be very clear today: We’re just getting started, and we remain committed to finishing the job. I look forward to your continued partnership in the coming weeks, months, and years as we roll out new pro-competition initiatives and break new ground together.
Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2023/05/04/remarks-as-prepared-by-nec-director-and-white-house-competition-council-chair-lael-brainard-at-the-american-economic-liberties-projects-anti-monopoly-summit/
originally published at Politics - Reliable News