September 21, 2021 1:17 am
White House competition council seeks lower consumer prices

White House competition council seeks lower consumer prices

A new White House Council on U.S. Economic Conditions will meet Friday to discuss at least 18 measures taken to assist consumers and possibly lower prices.

The council is an outcome of President Joe Biden’s July executive order. It aims to reorient the U.S. economy in the best interests of workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs. Two administration officials spoke anonymously to provide details about the meeting.

The goal is to encourage a dynamic economy where competition among businesses leads to greater transparency, greater choice, and potential savings for customers.

Biden has been criticised by some Republican lawmakers as well as business groups for its focus on regulation. The Roosevelt Room’s decision to host the council has a certain symbolism. It is named after the Republican trust-busting President Theodore Roosevelt.

The council will discuss a report on airlines that denied refunds to customers who had their flights changed or cancelled; an inquiry into excessive fees charged to ocean carriers; and almost 20-fold increases in penalties for hospitals that do not disclose their prices to public.

Other issues include corporate mergers and landlords who stop renters shopping around for internet service and removing the requirements of companies like John Deere, which prevent independent repair shops from fixing damaged tractors.

The White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese leads the council. He expected each agency to return to the next meeting with at minimum one new idea.

Deese presented efforts to increase transparency in the food industry at a briefing on Wednesday with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The Biden administration has provided $500 millions to encourage new food processors to compete with the four dominant companies in the meat and poultry markets. It also created market reports to improve transparency in cattle markets, and new rules for “Product of the USA labeling.” The century-old Packers and Stockyards Act is being enforced more strictly.

The council also includes the heads of eight Cabinet departments, including Agriculture, Defense, Justice, Treasury, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Commerce, and Labor. It also includes seven independent agencies including the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

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