Joe Biden calls himself the “trust destroyer” of the 21st century

Joe Biden’s biggest supporter insists that he is the most progressive American president since the reformed predecessor Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Now Biden is trying to put himself in a tradition that includes not only Roosevelt, but also his cousin Theodore Roosevelt, who instigated the dissolution of Standard Oil in 1906 because of his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt. begin What the White House is talking about will be the generational shift in US competition policy.

Biden’s supporters say that the 72 actions in the presidential decree signed on Friday — including everything from airfare policies to importing cheaper prescription drugs — constitute one of the most serious challenges to the power of large companies since Roosevelt. .

They argued that although many of the individual items in the order may not seem so radical, the entire document is a fierce attack on Reaganism, that is, as long as consumers are not affected, the company should be allowed to scale as much as it wants.

On the contrary, Biden and his advisers hope that competition regulators will not only consider the impact of corporate power on customers, but also the impact on workers, suppliers, and smaller competitors.

“This is the biggest change in competition policy since then [Ronald] Reagan is here,” said Barry Lynn, the director of the Open Market Institute, one of the small group of left-wing thinkers who influenced the order last week. “For the first time in 50 years, we have truly understood the specific details of the political economy. “

Heather Bowsh, a member of Biden’s Economic Advisory Council, said: “Ensure that little guys have the opportunity to participate in the economy; there is an open and level playing field-these are important values. [the president] Brought to all our conversations. “

The order includes instructions and guidance to several government agencies, urging them to take action in a range of departments. For example, the President told the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to work with states to find a way to safely import drugs from Canada in order to reduce the prices charged by U.S. drugmakers.

However, such a move is not new.U.S. Department of Health Published rules Last year, Donald Trump allowed the import of drugs from Canada while he was still in office. However, the authority to approve specific procurement recommendations from states and other health authorities rests with the FDA, which rarely grants such approvals.

Biden also “encourage” the Federal Trade Commission to explore how to restrict the use of so-called non-compete clauses to prevent workers from transferring from an employer to a competitor. Companies such as Amazon have used such clauses, and they said they need them to protect trade secrets. But the President stated that they have been abused to keep wages down.

If the U.S. government were to split up Facebook or Amazon, people might be remembered in a way similar to the Standard Oil case filed by Theodore Roosevelt government in 1906 © Getty Images

Non-compete clauses are restricted in some states, but Democrats in the Federal Trade Commission believe that they also have the legal power to set federal restrictions. The question now is whether the committee chooses to ban their use altogether, or to take more limited action to curb them only by targeting low-wage workers.

A senior White House official said: “The order does not speak of prohibition, but of reduction.” “So it does open the door to some kind of more limited action.”

Some critics said that the White House does not have the power to push for such a broad reshaping of antitrust policies, and pointed out that Trump could not fulfill his repeated promises to reduce drug prices through measures including re-imports.

Others believe that the plan is a mixture of minor amendments and more ambitious policy measures, and is unlikely to withstand the scrutiny of Congress or the courts.

Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank supported by the technology industry, said: “A lot of these measures are small beers. Now you will understand every cost involved in air tickets. So what?”

However, as a whole, the order sends a signal to thousands of government officials who are involved in formulating government policies.

For example, it instructs the Minister of Agriculture to “reinforce” the view that it is illegal for large agricultural companies to prioritize one farmer over another, even if it has no impact on the entire industry.

It also encourages the FTC to consider the “unfair data collection and surveillance practices” of large technology companies when deciding whether to take enforcement actions against large technology companies.

These projects reflect the view of many progressives that regulators are too unwilling to take antitrust actions without being able to prove any obvious harm to consumers (such as price increases).

But judges are often skeptical of this interpretation of existing antitrust laws.Last month, a federal judge Dismiss the complaint The FTC opposed Facebook because it stated that the regulator did not take sufficient measures to prove that the company dominates its market.

Many people expect that if Biden’s appointed FTC chief, Lina Khan, filed a lawsuit against Amazon, who used to criticize Amazon for abusing market power, then this theory will be rigorously tested.

If Khan succeeds in disbanding Facebook or Amazon, people are likely to be remembered in a way similar to the Standard Oil case brought by Theodore Roosevelt administration.

But even if she and the Biden administration fail to win the landmark case, many supporters believe that the debate surrounding the power of American companies will change forever.

Sarah Miller, executive director of the U.S. Economic Freedom Project, said: “This order… broke the 40-year consensus on how the government should interact with companies.

“This is even more important because it was Joe Biden who signed it, not one of the Democrats who we consider to be part of the progressive.”

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