White House seeks lower prices
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A new White House council on U.S. economic conditions plans to hold its first meeting Friday, with participants to highlight at least 18 actions taken to help consumers and potentially lower prices.
The council, an outgrowth of a July executive order by President Joe Biden, is aimed at refocusing the U.S. economy around the interests of consumers, workers and entrepreneurs. Details about the meeting were provided by two administration officials who spoke on condi- tion of anonymity to preview the gathering.
The goal is to foster a more dynamic economy in which competition among companies leads to more transparency, greater choice and potential savings for customers.
Biden’s order has been criticized by some Republican lawmakers and business groups for its emphasis on regulation. The decision to convene the council in the Roosevelt Room carries a degree of symbolism: The room is named for the trust-busting President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican.
Among the matters to be discussed by the council are a new report about airlines that wrongfully denied refunds to customers whose flights were changed or can- celed; an inquiry into excessive fees charged by ocean carriers; and a nearly 20-fold increase in fines for hospitals that fail to disclose their prices to the public.
Other issues include cor- porate mergers, landlords who prevent renters from shopping around for internet services and removing requirements by companies such as John Deere that stop independent repair shops from fixing broken tractors and other machines.
The council is led by Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council. He was expected to ask each agency to come back to the council’s next meeting with at least one new initiative.