Yahoo Finance’s Rick Newman joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down why big is bad when it comes to regulation and the ramping up of antitrust in Washington, D.C.
JARED BLIKRE: It’s the weekend Bidenomics time. And for that, we bring in Yahoo Finance’s Rick Newman. And Rick, you’re saying this week, big is bad? Hey there.
RICK NEWMAN: Heck yeah. So you were just talking about Biden’s executive order today. The executive order is just a down payment. You know, a lot of executive orders don’t add up to much. Many of the things in this executive order will probably get challenged as well, as David Nelson was just saying. But this is a preview of much bigger things coming from the Biden administration. They clearly intend to make the biggest antitrust push in decades, going back to the breakup of Ma Bell in the 1970s and 1980s.
And they’re taking it from a bunch of different angles. So the EO today, Biden is trying to do things such as prohibit these non-compete agreements for ordinary workers. I mean, non-competes used to be for top executives, but now some restaurant workers have to sign non-competes. So that means they can’t go to the competition across the street and try to get a higher paying job. I mean, that does seem kind of ridiculous.
He wants to take on the sectors we all know about and talk about a lot– big tech, but also some sectors that are behind the scenes, but where there is a lot of market concentration, such as hospitals, for example, medical devices and even airlines. He wants to do things like make them pay you back if in-flight Wi-Fi gets offered. Now maybe that’s going a little– reaching down a little too far. But they’re going to be trying a lot of things.
And they are, as we’re seeing with the infrastructure push, in addition to doing things by executive order, they’re also trying to get the Democrats, who have a narrow majority in Congress, to put some legislation out there that will address the tech companies and a lot of other things down the road. So Biden keeps using this word, “whole of government approach.” And they’re doing that with antitrust, which means we’re going to see not just the FTC, but all the agencies probably taking this approach to the businesses they oversee.
SEANA SMITH: And Rick, you mentioned there that it will likely be challenged, so it’s certainly something that maybe won’t be implemented for quite some time. But do you think this is kind of this bigger approach that we have seen President Biden take with other not so much executive orders, but some of his other policy initiatives in the past? He lays out something that’s relatively vague, but then really only ends up focusing on maybe a few items that are within this list.
RICK NEWMAN: I think you could compare it to what we know about his green energy push so far. So he wants a lot of legislation and more than a trillion dollars in funding for new programs. But at the same time, he’s using all the executive agencies to do what they can. And those agencies can make a difference at the margins. I think another thing you might see here is populism at play, so pushing things such as preventing chain restaurants from forcing employees to sign these non-competes that essentially prevent them from looking for another job. I mean, that’s going to be popular among ordinary workers.
I mean, who actually would oppose such a thing? I suppose there might be some franchise owners who think that’s not fair, but for the most part, that’s pretty politically smart. And so are some of the other things that are in this EO, such as– I mean, I’ll just tick off a couple of other interesting ones– selling hearing AIDS over the counter so you don’t need a prescription, which will probably lower the cost perhaps by quite a lot. He’s also targeting prescription drugs. Probably not a lot going to happen there, but good political rhetoric. So Biden’s going to be out talking about all these things [INAUDIBLE] and for sure, he’s thinking about the 2022 midterms.
JARED BLIKRE: Yeah, Rick, I didn’t know that you had to get a prescription for a hearing aid. You learn something new every day. Yahoo Finance’s–
RICK NEWMAN: [INAUDIBLE] You’re lucky.
JARED BLIKRE: I couldn’t hear that. Yahoo Finance’s Rick Newman–
RICK NEWMAN: I mean, think about what a big deal thatbis with all the retiring baby boomers. I mean, this is a huge business.
JARED BLIKRE: Yeah, it seems to be. And we got the down payment. We’ll have to see if we get some more payments down the road from– in the form of congressional action.