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As Biden goes after junk fees, business group warns of shortages, fewer choices

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A national business group said President Joe Biden’s new Strike Force on Unfair and Illegal Pricing is an attempt to bring back government price controls.

“This effort by the Biden Administration to use regulatory agencies to micromanage how private businesses set prices will have the same result: shortages, fewer choices for consumers, a weaker economy, and less jobs,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Neil Bradley said.

The White House announced the new strike force this week ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address.

Biden said the new strike force, led by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, would “crack down on unfair and illegal pricing.”

“President Biden is committed to making sure corporations are held accountable when they try to rip off Americans, including when they break the law while keeping prices high,” according to the White House.

With consumers facing high prices, Biden has already started to outline policies to crack down on what the White House has called “junk fees,” “shrinkflation” and “corporate rip-offs.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called such efforts misguided.

“Excessive government regulation is hampering businesses and causing prices to rise for consumers,” Bradley said. “The Administration’s vendetta against so-called ‘junk fees’ is little more than an attempt to micromanage businesses’ pricing structures. The result, however, is that businesses are restricted from giving consumers options at different price points.”

A new rule announced Tuesday would cap credit card late fees at $8 as Biden continues to wage his war on junk fees. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized a rule Tuesday to cut credit card late fees by closing a loophole used by large card issuers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups oppose the rule. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it planned to file suit to block the new CFPB rule.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called the new strike force a gimmick.

“From airline fares and car purchasing, to everyday banking, the Administration’s crack-down on ‘junk fees’ only exacerbates inflationary pressure by increasing compliance costs for businesses that in turn get passed on to consumers,” Bradley said. “To make matters worse, the strike force will be led by two agencies that, for the past three years, have been openly hostile to market efficiencies – blatantly ignoring lower prices and better outcomes for consumers.”

Biden is expected to highlight efforts to bring down consumer prices in his State of the Union address.