President Joe Biden speaks at the third meeting of the White House Competition Council, highlighting the progress made on the competition agenda at the White House. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 27 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden proposed a new economic strategy that would eliminate hidden fees by banks, hotels, and utility service providers which he condemned Monday for intensifying inflation and squeezing family budgets "at a time when they can't afford it."
Biden delivered remarks Monday during the third meeting of the White House Competition Council, a body of Cabinet and administration officials charged with tackling inflation, lowering drug costs, empowering workers, and ensuring fair competition between large and small businesses throughout the country.
The group gathered in the State Dining Room, where the president reaffirmed his commitment to middle-class America, saying "we got to lower costs for families."
"Families all across America, at the end of the month are trying to figure out how they are going to pay their monthly bills. And they're not going to have anything left over," Biden said. "As my dad would say, "Is there going to be any breathing room when it was all over?"
The president specifically called out hotel processing fees, banks overdraft fees, fees on late credit card bills, and fees on customers who want to cancel their internet or cellphone contracts.
"Families shouldn't have to pay these fees," Biden said. "It's all taking money out of the pockets of average Americans."
The president said he is seeking to lower prices across the entire economy and is specifically focused on relief for everyday Americans who have been struggling under the weight of inflation and high energy prices all year.
"We're taking inflation very seriously by enacting policies to bring down costs for people," he said. "And I have to admit to you, my focus is primarily on working-class and middle-class folks. They're the ones that get hurt the most, in my view."
The Council is charged with carrying out the new directives to promote "competition with a goal of lowering prices for consumers and raising the wages of workers and encouraging innovation in the economy," Biden said.
Biden has already proposed that the nation's largest banks do away with bounced check fees, which today average about $50 per incident. The move would save taxpayers around $3 billion a year.
Biden has also tasked the Federal Communication Commission to step up pressure on cell phone companies to be more transparent about fees at the time a customer purchases a monthly plan.
The president also announced new transparency rules for airlines and travel agencies to disclose any hidden fees on seats, baggage and other add-ons like extra legroom that have become a recent boon for the industry.
"You should know the full cost of your ticket, right when you're comparison shopping," Biden said.
The council also discussed market pricing and fairness in the meat industry, and how to help small processors compete with industry heavyweights, which could ultimately help lower prices at the grocery store.
Since taking office, Biden has stressed that lack of competition drives up prices for consumers and drives down wages for workers.
The USDA "is focused on building new, fairer, and more resilient markets, protecting producers, and reducing food costs, and we are proving again today that we will use all the tools at our disposal to do so," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at the meeting, according to CNBC.