From the time Joe Biden was a toddler through his mid-30s, wages in the country grew and the wealth created by economic growth was shared by everyone. But when Biden hit 40, everything started to change. The incomes of the front runners grew strongly while the wages of the middle class and the poor clashed against a wall. Workers’ power decreased and monopoly power increased. It became more difficult to organize workers, start new businesses, and organize capital more easily. It was the early 1980s and Ronald Reagan was president.
I dream that in the first 100 days of his presidency, Biden will present these stark facts and make it his mission to bring growth and justice to this country – and to destroy the gap between growth and mutual prosperity. He will say, “Shared prosperity is the only way worth fighting for because the prosperity of those at the top has been made possible through massive, unprecedented wage theft, unfair competition and the buying of our politicians by powerful interests. The result has been increased inequality, lower dignity, more instability, and corporate takeover of our sacred democracy. As your President, I will make it my solemn responsibility to free America from the vice grip of corporate monopoly. “
In that speech, Biden will announce that United States industrial policy will be to proactively support the work at every turn and to crush monopolies. He will direct the Department of Justice to review the antitrust guidelines of Reagan and his successors – George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all of whom formulated their industrial policy in the speech of the “good of the consumer”.
Instead, the Biden guidelines state that the purpose of antitrust law is to protect democracy and ensure gross equality for citizens. Barry Lynn, author of the most recent book Freedom from all mastersargues that mere technical corrections will not be enough; We have to change the way the government approaches the whole problem of economic power in society. The biggest thing Biden could do, according to Lynn: “Get rid of the pro-monopoly philosophy of consumer protection in the Reagan era. There is nothing more important than saying that the purpose of the law is to protect democracy and freedom, not consumer welfare. “
Biden can boom into the White House with the vision that Ted Kaufman, one of his transition team chairs, has created for him. He praised Franklin Roosevelt’s aggressive approach to monopoly abuse and said, “The leadership of the FDR has brought us back into balance. There is no reason why through dedication and hard work we cannot do the same thing. “From Kaufman’s lips to Biden’s ear.
To add vigor and credibility to its challenge, Biden’s Federal Trade Commission was supposed to, in the first 100 days, tear down the ideological wall that has restricted the power of antitrust authorities to prevent the organization of capital. But it shouldn’t stop there. Biden can pursue an anti-monopoly policy throughout his administration if he takes the following steps:
§ Biden’s FTC should prohibit non-compete agreements in all employment agreements. Non-compete contracts are contracts that are written against the spirit of all antitrust laws and make it nearly impossible for workers to look for work in the same field once they leave their jobs – which in turn makes it very difficult to bargain with decent wages or benefits.
§ Biden’s FTC should prohibit exclusive agreements from dominant companies. Monopolists use these arrangements to make it more difficult for new or smaller companies to succeed by limiting their ability to enter different markets. Several organizations, led by the Open Markets Institute, have asked the FTC to issue such a ban, as exclusive agreements allow these companies to abuse customers, dealers, suppliers and workers.
§ Biden’s FTC should issue clear rules and market share guidelines for mergers. These would build on the guidelines of 1968, which served to prevent mergers of dominant companies. For example, in 1968 the FTC would normally have challenged the merger of a company with 10 percent stake in a highly concentrated market with one with 2 percent or more. New guidelines would ensure that big companies can’t eat their competition or potential competitors.
§ The National Labor Relations Board should make rules that make it clear that Uber and Lyft drivers are employees under federal law. This would give them the right to join a union, along with the power to negotiate their working conditions, and prevent much of California’s newly passed proposal 22.
§ Biden should issue an implementing regulation that deprives the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of its power to veto agencies. OIRA has acted as a mini-Supreme Court in previous administrations, using cost-benefit analysis to dismiss key regulations as too damaging to business results.
§ Biden should instruct the Secretary of Agriculture to use the department’s powers under the Packers and Stockyards Act, a 1921 act that gives the President the responsibility of protecting against concentration in agriculture. With that power, his government could ban abusive contracts between farmers and monopolistic corporate meat packers, block new mergers and reverse previous bad ones.
§ Biden should instruct his Minister of Transport to repeal the existing rule that gives airlines immunity from antitrust law.
§ Biden should instruct the Federal Energy Regulation Commission to restructure the energy sector in order to promote decentralized energy sources, environmentally friendly technologies and a more robust supply of renewable energies.
§ Biden should instruct the Department of Defense to issue new contract guidelines. For the past 40 years, presidents have relaxed the rules on monopoly contracts, weakened procurement rules to ensure fair competition, allowed exemptions from the Buy America Act, and weakened cost reporting requirements. Biden’s team was supposed to reverse this trend and return to the New Deal-era contractual principles.
§ Biden should instruct tax authorities to focus on an international digital tax treaty. Multinational monopolies, particularly in the technology sector, organize their global activities in such a way that taxes on corporate activities are avoided. The finance department should negotiate with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries to stop transnational tax avoidance.
§ Biden should task the Justice Department with pursuing an aggressive legal agenda, starting with an extensive investigation into Amazon that essentially urges sellers to use their warehouse services. In addition to pursuing the Trump administration’s litigation against Google for illegally establishing and protecting a search monopoly, the department should also bring a lawsuit against John Deere, the engineering giant, for not allowing farmers to repair their own tractors . And it should open an investigation into hospital consolidation.
Finally, Biden should adopt the conclusions of the Extraordinary Report of the House’s Antitrust Subcommittee, published in October, calling, among other things, for the big tech companies to be split up into their sub-businesses, as Elizabeth Warren has also called, and for overriding the poor Supreme Court set precedents that make it more difficult to initiate antitrust proceedings.
There is not much time to act. The tentacles of today’s monopoly corporations reach every corner of American life. Biden should seize the energy of the moment and seize the opportunity to free our country from the shackles of monopoly.