Agency Actions Will Better Protect Workers’ Hard-Earned Savings, Create Good Jobs, and Position America to Lead the Global Economy
President Biden’s latest executive order on climate change is a big deal. For the first time, government agencies in their procurement, regulatory responsibilities, and by consequence, government contractors, financial companies and private companies, will have to analyze, mitigate, assess the cost and reveal the financial risk of climate change to homeowners, consumers, businesses, workers, the financial system and federal government itself. Already, many international financial institutions, in assessing grants and loans are doing this, but Trump actually did the opposite, barring regulatory agencies from assessing cost – to climate or health – of activities that exacerbated the climate crisis. The White House has issued this fact sheet – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Biden has issued an Executive Order to address the serious threat that the climate crisis poses to our economy. Extreme weather related to climate change can disrupt entire supply chains and deprive communities of food, water, or emergency supplies. Snowstorms can offline entire power grids. Floods made worse by rising sea levels destroy homes and businesses. As the United States builds a modern and equitable clean energy future that creates millions of good-paying jobs and advances environmental justice, the agency actions spurred by the President’s directive today will help safeguard the financial security of America’s families, businesses, and workers from the climate-related financial risks they are already facing.
The President’s Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk will help the American people better understand how climate change can impact their financial security. It will strengthen the U.S. financial system. And it will inform concrete decisions that the federal government can take to mitigate the risks of climate change.
From signing a loan for a new home or small business to managing life savings or a retirement fund—it is important for the American people to have access to the information needed to understand the potential risks associated with these significant financial decisions. We know that the climate crisis, whether through rising seas or extreme weather, already presents increasing risks to infrastructure, investments, and businesses. Yet, these risks are often hidden.
With so much at stake, this Executive Order ensures that the right rules are in place to properly analyze and mitigate these risks. That includes disclosing these risks to the public, and empowering the American people to make informed financial decisions.
The Executive Order will also ensure that the federal government takes concrete steps to mitigate these risks itself. Together, these steps will protect workers’ life savings, spur the creation of good-paying jobs, and help position the United States to lead the global economy.
Specifically, the Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk will:
Develop a Whole-of-Government Approach to Mitigating Climate-Related Financial Risk. The Executive Order requires the National Climate Advisor and the Director of the National Economic Council to develop, within 120 days, a comprehensive government-wide climate-risk strategy to identify and disclose climate-related financial risk to government programs, assets, and liabilities. This strategy will identify the public and private financing needed to reach economy wide net-zero emissions by 2050 – while advancing economic opportunity, worker empowerment, and environmental mitigation, especially in disadvantaged communities and communities of color.
Encourage Financial Regulators to Assess Climate-Related Financial Risk. The Executive Order encourages the Treasury Secretary, in her role as the chair of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, to work with Council members to assess climate-related financial risk to the stability of the federal government and the stability of the U.S. financial system. Additionally, in her role as the chair, she should work with member agencies to consider issuing a report, within 180 days, on actions the Council recommends to reduce risks to financial stability, including plans that member agencies are taking to improve climate-related disclosures and other sources of data, and to incorporate climate-related financial risk into regulatory and supervisory practices.
Bolster the Resilience of Life Savings and Pensions. The Executive Order directs the Labor Secretary to consider suspending, revising, or rescinding any rules from the prior administration that would have barred investment firms from considering environmental, social and governance factors, including climate-related risks, in their investment decisions related to workers’ pensions. The order also asks the Department to report on other measures that can be implemented to protect the life savings and pensions of U.S. workers and families from climate-related financial risk, and to assess how the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board has taken environmental, social, and governance factors, including climate-related risk, into account.
Modernize Federal Lending, Underwriting, and Procurement. The Executive Order directs the development of recommendations for improving how Federal financial management and reporting can incorporate climate-related financial risk, especially as that risk relates to federal lending programs. It also requires consideration of new requirements for major federal suppliers to disclose greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related financial risks and to ensure that major federal agency procurements minimize those risks.
Reduce the Risk of Climate Change to the Federal Budget. The Executive Order ensures that the federal government is taking steps to be fiscally responsible in response to the significant risk that unmitigated climate change poses to the federal budget through increased costs and lost revenue. The Executive Order directs that the federal government develop and publish annually an assessment of its climate-related fiscal risk exposure. It also directs the Office of Management and Budget to reduce the federal government’s exposure through the formulation of the President’s Budget and oversight of budget execution.
President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order to help create more resilient and secure supply chains for critical and essential goods.
In recent years, American households, workers, and companies have increasingly felt the strain of shortages of essential products—from medicine to food to computer chips. Last year’s shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line healthcare workers at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic were unacceptable. Recent shortages of automotive semiconductor chips have forced slowdowns at car manufacturing plants, highlighting how shortages can hurt U.S. workers.
While we cannot predict what crisis will hit us, we should have the capacity to respond quickly in the face of challenges. The United States must ensure that production shortages, trade disruptions, natural disasters and potential actions by foreign competitors and adversaries never leave the United States vulnerable again. Today’s action delivers on the President’s campaign commitment to direct his Administration to comprehensively address supply chain risks. The task of making our supply chains more secure can also be a source of well paid jobs for communities across our country, including in communities of color, and steps will be taken to ensure that the benefits of this work flow to all Americans.
The Executive Order launches a comprehensive review of U.S. supply chains and directs federal Departments and Agencies to identify ways to secure U.S. supply chains against a wide range of risks and vulnerabilities. Building resilient supply chains will protect the United States from facing shortages of critical products. It will also facilitate needed investments to maintain America’s competitive edge, and strengthen U.S. national security.
Here are President Biden’s remarks before the signing of the executive order:
The Vice President and I had a very productive meeting with a bipartisan group of senators and House members to address an issue of both concern to our economic security, as well as our national security: the resilience and reliability of our critical supply chains.
This is a critical area where Republicans and Democrats agreed it was one of the best meetings — it’s the best meeting I think we’ve had so far, although we’ve only been here about five weeks. But it was like the old days — people actually are on the same page.
Good, bipartisan work has already been done. The leaders of this operation in the House and Senate already have done great work, and I want to thank them for their leadership.
We’re here to build on that. And the bottom line is simple: The American people should never face shortages in the goods and services they rely on, whether that’s their car or their prescription medicines or the food at the local grocery store.
And remember, the shortages in PPE during this pandemic –that meant we didn’t have the masks; we didn’t have gowns or gloves to protect our frontline health workers.
We heard horror stories of doctors and nurses wearing trash bags over their gown — over their dress in order to — so they wouldn’t be in trouble, because they had no gowns. And they were rewashing and reusing their masks over and over again in the OR.
That should never have never happened. And this will never happen again in the United States, period. We shouldn’t have to rely on a foreign country — especially one that doesn’t share our interests or our values — in order to protect and provide our people during a national emergency.
That’s why one of the first executive orders I signed, as some may remember, was to ensure that we’re manufacturing more protective equipment for healthcare workers here at home.
And today, I’m shortly going to be signing another executive order that’ll help address the vulnerabilities in our supply chains across additional critical sectors of our economy so that the American people are prepared to withstand any crisis and rely on ourselves.
This is about making sure the United States can meet every challenge we face in this new era — pandemics, but also in defense, cybersecurity, climate change, and so much more. And the best way to do that is by protecting and sharpening America’s competitive edge by investing here at home. As I’ve said from the beginning, while I was running: We’re going to invest in America. We’re going to invest in American workers. And then we can be in a much better position to even compete beyond what we’re doing now.
Resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains are going to help revitalize our domestic manufacturing capacity and create good-paying jobs, not $15 an hour — which is what we need to do someday. And sooner is better, in my view. But jobs that are at the prevailing wage.
We’re going to spare new — spur new opportunities for small businesses, communities of color, and economically distressed areas. And I will drive new investment in research and innovation and our workforce, investing in training and university partnerships that are going to lead to new technologies and new solutions.
And all this won’t just strengthen our domestic capacity, it will help unleash new markets around the world and grow opportunities for American businesses to export their goods that we’re going to be making.
These are the kinds of commonsense solutions that all Americans can get behind — workers and corporate leaders, Republicans and Democrats. It’s about resilience, identifying possible points of vulnerabilities in our supply chains, and making sure we have the backup alternatives or workarounds in place.
Remember that old proverb: “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.” And it goes on and on until the kingdom was lost, all for the want of a horseshoe nail. Even small failures at one point in the supply chain can cause outside impacts further up the chain.
Recently, we’ve seen how a shortage of computer chips — computer chips like the one I have here — you can hardly see it I imagine; it’s called a “semiconductor” — has caused delays in production of automobiles that has resulted in reduced hours for American workers. A 21st century horseshoe nail.
This semiconductor is smaller than a postage stamp, but it has more than 8 billion transistors — 8 billion transistors, 10,000 times thinner than a single human hair in this one chip. These chips are a wonder of innovation and design that powers so much of our country, enables so much of our modern lives to go on — not just our cars, but our smartphones, televisions, radios, medical diagnostic equipment, and so much more.
We need to make sure these supply chains are secure and reliable. I’m directing senior officials in my administration to work with industrial leaders to identify solutions to this semiconductor shortfall and work very hard with the House and Senate. They’ve authorized the bill, but they need (inaudible) $37 billion, short term, to make sure we have this capacity. We’ll push for that as well. But we all recognize that the particular problem won’t be solved immediately.
In the meantime, we’re reaching out to our allies, semiconductor companies, and others in the supply chain to ramp up production to help us resolve the bottlenecks we face now. We need help to stop — we need to stop playing catch up after the supply-chain crisis hit. We need to prevent the supply chain crisis from hitting in the first place.
And in some cases, building resilience will mean increasing our production of certain types of elements here at home. In others, it’ll mean working more closely with our trusted friends and partners, nations that share our values, so that our supply chains can’t be used against us as leverage.
It will mean identifying and building surge capacity that can quickly be turned into and ramped up production in times of emergency. And it will mean investing in research and development, like we did in the ’60s, to ensure long-term competi- — competitiveness in our manufacturing base in the decades ahead.
The order I’m about to sign does two things. First, it orders a 100-day review of four vital products: semiconductors — one; key minerals and materials, like rare earths, that are used to make everything from harder steel to airplanes; three, pharmaceuticals and their ingredients; four, advanced batteries, like the ones used in electric vehicles.
There’s strong bipartisan support for fast reviews of these four areas because they’re essential to protecting and strengthening American competitiveness.
Second, this order initiates a long-term review of the industry basis of six sectors of our overall economy over the next year. These reviews will identify policy recommendations to fortify our supply chains at every step, and critically, to start implementing those recommendations right away. We’re not going to wait for a review to be completed before we start closing the existing gaps.
And as we implement this work, my administration will draw on a full range of American talent — including labor and industry leaders, policy experts, scientists, farmers, engineers — to get their input.
I’m grateful for the members of Congress who came to see me — Republican leaders, as well as Democrats. They’re leading the way. We’re going to stay in close contact with members of both sides of the aisle and keep advancing our shared goals.
Everyone has a role to play to strengthen our supply chains in our — and our country. This is the United States of America. We are better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century than any country in the world. There’s nothing, nothing, nothing we’ve ever failed to achieve if we work together. And that’s what we decided to do today, and that’s what we’re going to do: work together.
So I thank you all. I’m very optimistic about the meeting we had today with our congressional colleagues. And now I’m going to walk over and sign that executive order.
First, the order directs an immediate 100-day review across federal agencies to address vulnerabilities in the supply chains of four key products.
Pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical agreements (APIs). APIs are the part of a pharmaceutical product that contains the active drug. In recent decades, more than 70 percent of API production facilitators supplying the U.S. have moved offshore. This work will complement the ongoing work to secure supply chains needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Critical minerals, including rare earths. Critical minerals are an essential part of defense, high-tech, and other products. From rare earths in our electric motors and generators to the carbon fiber used for airplanes—the United States needs to ensure we are not dependent upon foreign sources or single points of failure in times of national emergency.
Semiconductors and Advanced Packaging. The United States is the birthplace of this technology, and has always been a leader in semiconductor development. However, over the years we have underinvested in production—hurting our innovative edge—while other countries have learned from our example and increased their investments in the industry.
Large capacity batteries, such as those used in electric vehicles: As we take action to tackle the climate crisis, we know that will lead to large demand for new energy technologies like electric vehicle batteries. By identifying supply chain risks, we can meet the President’s commitment to accelerate U.S. leadership of clean energy technologies. For example, while the U.S. is a net exporter of electric vehicles, we are not a leader in the supply chain associated with electric battery production. The U.S. could better leverage our sizeable lithium reserves and manufacturing know-how to expand domestic battery production.
The 100-day review will identify near term steps the administration can take, including with Congress, to address vulnerabilities in the supply chains for these critical goods.
Second, the order calls for a more in-depth one-year review of a broader set of U.S. supply chains. The one-year review will include:
A focus on six key sectors: the defense industrial base; the public health and biological preparedness industrial base; the information and communications technology (ICT) industrial base; the energy sector industrial base; the transportation industrial base; and supply chains for agricultural commodities and food production.
A set of risks for agencies to consider in their assessment of supply chain vulnerabilities: Agencies and Departments are directed to review a variety of risks to supply chains and industrial bases. For example, these reviews must identify critical goods and materials within supply chains, the manufacturing or other capabilities needed to produce those materials, as well as a variety of vulnerabilities created by failure to develop domestic capabilities. Agencies and Departments are also directed to identify locations of key manufacturing and production assets, the availability of substitutes or alternative sources for critical goods, the state of workforce skills and identified gaps for all sectors, and the role of transportation systems in supporting supply chains and industrial bases.
Recommendations on actions that should be taken to improve resiliency: Agencies are directed to make specific policy recommendations to address risks, as well as proposals for new research and development activities.
A sustained commitment to supply chain resiliency: The government will commit to a regular, ongoing process of reviewing supply chain resilience, including a quadrennial review process.
Consultation with external stakeholders: The government cannot secure supply chains on its own. It requires partnership and consultation with the American people. The E.O. directs the Administration to consult widely with outside stakeholders, such as those in industry, academia, non-governmental organizations, communities, labor unions, and State, local, territorial, and Tribal governments.
The E.O. will build on bipartisan Congressional action and leadership on this issue, and the Administration will remain in close touch with Congress to solicit recommendations during the review. President Biden has also directed his Administration to work with U.S. partners and allies to ensure that they too have strong and resilient supply chains.
President Biden has directed his Administration to ensure that the task of building resilient supply chains draws on the talent and work ethic of communities across America, including communities of color and cities and towns that have for too long suffered from job losses and industrial decline. As the Administration implements the Executive Order, it will identify opportunities to implement policies to secure supply chains that grow the American economy, increase wages, benefit small businesses and historically disadvantaged communities, strengthen pandemic and biopreparedness, support the fight against global climate change, and maintain America’s technological leadership in key sectors.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a declared 2020 candidate for 2020 presidential nomination, came to Long Island City, where local activists rejected Amazon, to propose a plan to rein in big tech and other giant multi-national companies that use their economic power to stifle competition and intimidate government. Here is her proposal — Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features
big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our
society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private
information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And
in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.
I want a government that makes sure everybody — even the biggest and most
powerful companies in America — plays by the rules. And I want to make sure
that the next generation of great
American tech companies can flourish. To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies
from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor
and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential
That’s why my Administration will make big, structural changes to the tech
sector to promote more competition—including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google.
How the New Tech Monopolies Hurt Small Businesses and Innovation
America’s big tech companies provide valuable products but also wield enormous
power over our digital lives. Nearly half of all e-commerce goes
through Amazon. More than 70% of all Internet traffic goes through
sites owned or operated by Google or Facebook.
As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their
resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small
businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the
broader interests of the American people. To restore the balance of power in
our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation
of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our
biggest tech companies.
America’s big tech companies have achieved their level of dominance in part
based on two strategies:
Mergers to Limit Competition.
Facebook has purchased potential competitors Instagram and WhatsApp.
Amazon has used its immense market power to force smaller competitors
like Diapers.com to sell at a discounted rate. Google has
snapped up the mapping company Waze and the ad company DoubleClick. Rather
than blocking these transactions for their negative long-term effects on
competition and innovation, government regulators have waved them through.
Proprietary Marketplaces to Limit Competition. Many
big tech companies own a marketplace – where buyers and sellers transact –
while also participating on the marketplace. This can create a conflict of
interest that undermines competition. Amazon crushes small
companies by copying the goods they sell on the Amazon
Marketplace and then selling its own branded version. Google
allegedly snuffed out a competing small search engine
by demoting its content on its search algorithm, and it has
favored its own restaurant ratings over those of Yelp.
Weak antitrust enforcement has led to a dramatic reduction in
competition and innovation in the tech sector. Venture capitalists are now
hesitant to fund new startups to compete with these big tech companies because
it’s so easy for the big companies to either snap up growing
competitors or drive them out of business. The number of tech startups
has slumped, there are fewer high-growth young firms typical of
the tech industry, and first financing rounds for tech startups
have declined 22% since 2012.
With fewer competitors entering the
market, the big tech companies do not have to compete as aggressively in key
areas like protecting our privacy. And some of these companies have grown
so powerful that they can bully cities
and states into showering them with massive taxpayer handouts in exchange
for doing business, and can act — in the words of Mark Zuckerberg —
“more like a government than a traditional company.”
We must ensure that today’s tech giants do not crowd out potential competitors,
smother the next generation of great tech companies, and wield so much power
that they can undermine our democracy.
Restoring Competition in the Tech Sector
America has a long tradition of breaking
up companies when they have become too big and dominant — even if they are
generally providing good service at a reasonable price.
A century ago, in the Gilded Age, waves of mergers led to the creation of some
of the biggest companies in American history — from Standard Oil and JPMorgan
to the railroads and AT&T. In response to the rise of these “trusts,”
Republican and Democratic reformers pushed for antitrust laws to break up these
conglomerations of power to ensure competition.
But where the value of the company came from its network, reformers recognized
that ownership of a network and participating on the network caused a conflict
of interest. Instead of nationalizing these industries — as other countries
did — Americans in the Progressive Era decided to ensure that these networks
would not abuse their power by charging higher prices, offering worse quality,
reducing innovation, and favoring some over others. We required a structural
separation between the network and other businesses, and also demanded that the
network offer fair and non-discriminatory service.
In this tradition, my administration
would restore competition to the tech sector by taking two major steps:
First, by passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be
designated as “Platform Utilities” and
broken apart from any participant on that platform.
Companies with an annual global revenue of
$25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an
exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties would be designated as
These companies would be prohibited from
owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform.
Platform utilities would be required to meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users.
Platform utilities would not be allowed
to transfer or share data with third parties.
For smaller companies (those with annual global revenue of between $90 million
and $25 billion), their platform utilities would be required to meet the same
standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users, but
would not be required to structurally separate from any participant on the
To enforce these new requirements, federal regulators, State Attorneys General,
or injured private parties would have the right
to sue a platform utility to enjoin any conduct that violates these
requirements, to disgorge any ill-gotten gains, and to be paid for losses and
damages. A company found to violate these requirements would also have to pay a fine of 5 percent of annual revenue.
Amazon Marketplace, Google’s ad exchange, and Google Search would be platform
utilities under this law. Therefore, Amazon Marketplace and Basics, and
Google’s ad exchange and businesses on the exchange would be split apart.
Google Search would have to be spun off as well.
Second, my administration would
appoint regulators committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech
Current antitrust laws empower federal regulators to break up mergers that
reduce competition. I will appoint regulators who are committed to using
existing tools to unwind anti-competitive mergers, including:
Whole Foods; Zappos
Waze; Nest; DoubleClick
Unwinding these mergers will promote healthy competition in the market — which will put pressure on big tech companies to be more responsive to user concerns, including about privacy.
Protecting the Future of the Internet
So what would the Internet look like after all these reforms?
Here’s what won’t change: You’ll still be able to go on Google and search like you do today. You’ll still be able to go on Amazon and find 30 different coffee machines that you can get delivered to your house in two days. You’ll still be able to go on Facebook and see how your old friend from school is doing.
Here’s what will change: Small businesses would have a fair shot to sell their products on Amazon without the fear of Amazon pushing them out of business. Google couldn’t smother competitors by demoting their products on Google Search. Facebook would face real pressure from Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy. Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants.
Of course, my proposals today won’t solve every problem we have with our big tech companies.
We must give people more control over how their personal information is collected, shared, and sold—and do it in a way that doesn’t lock in massive competitive advantages for the companies that already have a ton of our data.
We must help America’s content creators—from local newspapers and national magazines to comedians and musicians — keep more of the value their content generates, rather than seeing it scooped up by companies like Google and Facebook.
And we must ensure that Russia — or any other foreign power — can’t use Facebook or any other form of social media to influence our elections.
Those are each tough problems, but the benefit of taking these steps to promote competition is that it allows us to make some progress on each of these important issues too. More competition means more options for consumers and content creators, and more pressure on companies like Facebook to address the glaring problems with their businesses.
Healthy competition can solve a lot of problems. The steps I’m proposing today will allow existing big tech companies to keep offering customer-friendly services, while promoting competition, stimulating innovation in the tech sector, and ensuring that America continues to lead the world in producing cutting-edge tech companies. It’s how we protect the future of the Internet.