July 16, 2021

New Blog Post: Senator Warren: President Biden Gets It: Americans Are Ready to Put People Over Profits

Blog Post With Data for Progress 

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today contributed a blog post with Data for Progress (dataforprogress.org) breaking down President Biden’s recent competition executive orders and how they put power back in the hands of consumers and workers.

Read the full post here and below. 

President Biden Gets It: Americans Are Ready to Put People Over Profits 

In the world’s largest economy, a hearing aid shouldn’t cost as much as $5,000 — sometimes more. But too many Americans face that exact situation, locked out of affordable hearing aid options while a few big companies use a thicket of rules to line their pockets. This is wrong — plain and simple. What working family has an extra $5,000 to drop on such a basic necessity? If our nation’s economy isn’t serving ordinary working families, it doesn’t matter how big and powerful it is, it needs to change. 

For years, I have been telling anyone who will listen that markets without competition are theft. I even passed an over-the-counter hearing aid law that has been too-slowly making its way through the rulemaking process. 

This is why I was encouraged to see President Biden take up, in a new executive order, so many of the reforms I’ve been pushing to increase competition in the U.S. economy. The executive order is a sweeping directive to increase competition, restore worker protections and safeguard their rights, and lower the prices of consumer goods. From expediting the process to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter, to requiring airlines to give you a refund when your bags arrive late or in-flight wifi doesn’t work, to preventing chicken farmers from being stiffed by meatpackers and farm equipment giants — the executive order puts power back in the hands of consumers and workers and reorients the economy towards everyday Americans instead of those of ultra-wealthy corporations and their executives.

The inflated power of America’s biggest corporations doesn’t just hurt consumers — it also harms workers, who are increasingly subjected to unfair laws preventing them from selling their skills and labor in a competitive marketplace. Across the board, too many workers are prevented from leaving exploitative jobs and finding better opportunities for themselves by stringent non-compete agreements that prohibit them from taking jobs at competing businesses, sometimes even after they’ve left the company that made them sign the non-compete agreement. The executive order will help put a stop to non-competes and excessive licensing requirements, empowering workers to exert more control over their work.

These measures aren’t just good for the economy — they’re extremely popular with voters. I heard it first-hand on the campaign trail, and now, new polling by Data for Progress finds that by a +28-point-margin, voters strongly support President Biden issuing an executive order to curtail non-compete agreements. Voter support for banning excessive licensing requirements is similarly strong — by a +31-point-margin, voters approve of President Biden’s move to enable workers to compete in the marketplace more easily by limiting the use of non-competes. 

But in order to have an economy that works for everyone, we also need to make sure the wheels and gears of our marketplace aren’t clogged up by companies allowed to get too big and have too much power to squash their competition. Huge corporations like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have been able to commandeer huge sections of the market, shutting out smaller businesses and hurting consumers by depriving them of choices and affordable prices. Under the new executive order, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission will be more empowered to enforce the antitrust laws that are supposed to keep these giant companies in check, and the order calls for greater government scrutiny of corporate mergers – including the big bank mergers that threaten our financial system. Data for Progress polling also finds that a strong majority of voters, 67 percent, believe the federal government should regulate the power of monopolies in order to make our economy more fair and competitive. This support extends across partisan lines: 70 percent of Democrats support regulating monopolistic companies, 68 percent of Independents, and 63 percent of Republicans. This is a win for everyone.

But we shouldn’t stop there. We still need to break up some of the biggest and most powerful tech companies. We also need Congress to pass new laws that further strengthen the federal agencies responsible for antitrust enforcement, outlaw the anticompetitive practices plaguing our markets, and beef up our anti-corruption and ethics laws so that giant corporations no longer hold the reins in Washington.

For years, bad policy choices by lawmakers have allowed huge corporations to reap even bigger profits at the expense of American workers, families, and consumers. And these corporations haven’t paid us back — on the contrary, they’ve raised prices and lowered wages. It’s time to build an economy that values people over shareholder profits, and that’s exactly what the President’s pro-competition executive order will accomplish. The voters agree — now, Congress must heed their wishes by partnering with President Biden’s work on increasing competitiveness and passing new legislation to do the same.