Washington, DC…Hi, everybody. If you’ve ever played a game of basketball in a gym, or entered a contest in school, or started a small business in your hometown, you know that competition is a good thing. It pushes us to do our best. And you know that a fight is fair only when everybody has a chance to win, when the playing field is level for everybody, and the rules are clear and consistent. That’s important to our consumers, our workers, our employers, and our farmers. You deserve a fair shake, even though there might be much bigger players in the market. Without a truly competitive marketplace, those big companies can raise costs, or slack off on offering good service, or keep their workers’ wages too low. And in an era when large corporations often merge to form even larger ones, our leaders have an even greater responsibility to look out for us as consumers.
To keep America’s economy growing and America’s businesses thriving, we need to protect the principle of fair competition. That’s not, by the way, a Democratic idea or a Republican idea – it’s an American idea, because it’s the best way to make sure the best ideas rise to the top.
My administration has done a lot to keep the marketplace fair. We defended a free, open, and accessible internet that doesn’t let service providers pick winners and losers. We cracked down on conflicts of interest by making sure professionals who give you retirement advice do so in your best interest, not in theirs. And in the last few months, we’ve made even more progress.
This week, my Department of Agriculture took major steps to protect farmers from unfair treatment by bigger processors. These rules will help swine, beef cattle, and especially poultry growers who have fewer choices in where they sell their products.
This month, the FDA started taking steps to make hearing aids more affordable for more than the nearly 30 million Americans suffering from the frustration of hearing loss. We think people with moderate hearing loss should be able to buy a hearing aid over the counter as easily as you can buy reading glasses at your local pharmacy.
This year we also addressed two other problems that keep workers and wages down: the overuse of non-compete agreements that hurt workers in the job market, and the unfair practices of companies that collude to set wages below the market rate. And we backed new steps, including a law I just signed to fight robot scalpers that artificially drive up ticket prices, and a rule that requires airlines to reimburse your baggage fees if your bags don’t make it to your destination when you do.
Finally, it’s this principle of competition that’s at the very heart of our health reform. In fact, it’s the reason we call it the Affordable Care Act; it makes insurance companies compete for your business, which is helping millions afford the care that helps them get and stay healthy. By the way, it’s open enrollment season right now. You can still sign up on HealthCare.gov until January 31st and get covered for 2017.
Our free-market economy only works when there’s competition. And competition only works when rules are in place to keep it fair and open and honest. Whether you’re building the next big thing or just want to be treated right as a customer, that’s good for you and good for the country.
Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.