The White House Competition Council will hold a second meeting on Monday, highlighting progress on pricing


On Monday at the White House, the group is expected to highlight efforts to lower prices for Americans on a range of goods and services from meat to hearing aids to expensive iPhone repairs.

The council was created by decree in July 2021 and held its inaugural meeting last September. It consists of senior administration officials from all agencies, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, among other senior officials representing nine departments and seven agencies, who will be present for the meeting.

The steps a White House can take to lower prices are limited, but Monday’s event signals continued efforts to show the American people that the administration is focused on lowering prices, which Biden says is a top priority as he enters his second year in office.

The main measures of inflation reflect record prices from the gas pump to the grocery store shelves. A December CNN poll by SSRS found that 72% of Americans say the government is doing too little to reduce inflation. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they changed the groceries they buy to stay within their budget. They are less likely to say they have significantly reduced their car trips (43%), changed stores (39%) or had difficulty finding affordable housing (26%) .

Biden’s executive order on competition, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said in July, was based on “a very simple but important intuition, which is that having fair and open competition is a fundamental ingredient of a sound capitalist economy. That’s what really leads to better outcomes, lower prices, higher wages, more innovation, more economic growth.”

“And so, the main purpose of this executive order is to put the whole executive branch back into focus on where, in what ways, can we encourage healthy competition in the service of achieving these outcomes: awards lower, higher wages, more innovation?” Deese told Bloomberg’s Masters in Business podcast when signing the order.

Promoting more competition is a mechanism the administration believes it can use to increase the economy’s productive capacity and ultimately lower prices for consumers, the deputy director of the National Economic Council told CNN. , Bharat Ramamurti, in an interview. Monday’s event, he said, “will serve to highlight all the progress that has been made in the approximately six months since the issuance of the executive order.”

Agencies on Monday will outline their top priorities for the next six months and “explain exactly how they’re going to accomplish those things over time,” he said.

Ramamurti said recent actions on hearing aids, a right to repair policy, efforts to block recent mergers and encourage competition in the broadband internet space were examples of progress led by the Executive Order. of Biden and the competition council that would be touted at Monday’s meeting.

The Department of Health and Human Services has set the wheels in motion to allow Americans to buy over-the-counter hearing aids without a prescription, releasing the proposed rules in October. The Federal Trade Commission has announced a policy for the Idea of ​​Right to Repair – which, among other products and companies, relaxes restrictions to allow iPhone users to repair their own devices using repair manuals that Apple will publish on its devices.

The administration is also stepping up efforts to “challenge and block illegal mergers that would raise prices for consumers,” an administration official citing a recent mega-merger blocked by the Justice Department over insurance companies and a setback from the Surface Transportation Board to a rail merger. Other enforcement agencies, the White House said, are updating their merger enforcement tools and guidelines.

Looking ahead, Ramamurti suggested that increasing competition for broadband internet would be a top priority to lower Americans’ internet bills, noting funding for broadband access in the bipartisan infrastructure package and making it more difficult for owners to sign exclusivity agreements with cable companies.

These and other initiatives, a White House official said, “will give families more leeway in their medium-term budgets.”

The White House is clear that promoting competition won’t entirely solve the inflation problem – but says it’s a positive step that will bring some relief as the economy continues to recover from the downturn. Covid-19 pandemic.

“We argue that in certain industries where there has been less competition and more consolidation, these larger companies are better able to take advantage of the current situation and raise prices for longer. And that is certainly not the only factor that inflation…but it is a factor,” Ramamurti said.

He continued, “And when the president says he’s doing everything he can to fight inflation to reduce costs for families, that’s a tool he has and he’s going to use it. It doesn’t solve every problem and it won’t make a difference in every industry, but if it makes a difference in a few industries and helps alleviate some of the pricing pressures, it will.”


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