President Joe Biden is pushing an agenda to stop corporations from charging so-called "junk fees" that hide the true cost they're charging from the sticker price of their goods and services. And Republicans, according to The Daily Beast, have decided to try to stop him.
"In his State of the Union speech earlier this month, President Joe Biden outlined a number of policies to help working-class Americans, including a ban on predatory junk fees. Alongside calls to ban noncompete clauses and rein in Big Tech, Biden’s address marks a rare instance of a president using their platform to take on corporate abuses," wrote Aidan Smith. "From a political standpoint, it’s hard to imagine that the issue won’t be a winner with the American public. After all, regardless of whether you’re a liberal or a conservative, you’re probably not too happy when a hotel puts a previously unannounced 'resort fee' on your bill after you’ve already checked out. As explained by the White House, junk fees exist purely to 'confuse or deceive consumers,' or to take advantage of 'situational market power.'"
The administration views these sorts of fees as an illegal, anti-competitive practice because hiding the true cost of a product from consumers "distorts the market" and prevents people from being able to comparison shop. These sorts of fees tend to be worst in heavily consolidated industries. Most famously, Ticketmaster has come under increased scrutiny from both performers and government regulators for outrageously high fees.
Republicans, however, have decided to team up with business lobbyists to try to kill the efforts of Biden's agencies to go after these fees.
For example, noted Smith, last year Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee attacked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a letter for trying to rein in bank fees. "In the letter, the GOP senators accused the agency of mounting a 'relentless smear campaign against banks' over purportedly 'optional overdraft services,'" said the report. "Amusingly, Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee also feigned outrage last year about the CFPB’s effort, describing the agency’s actions as an 'attack' on the 'services Americans rely on.'"
"At a time when millions of Americans face food and housing insecurity, hidden or deceptive fees that exist purely to gouge consumers means junk fees are harming the most vulnerable. As Biden explained, 'Junk fees might not matter to wealthy people, but they matter to most folks like the home I grew up in,'" concluded Smith. "Putting the ethical issues aside, with the 2024 presidential campaign cycle set to kick into gear, Republicans would be unwise to tie themselves to the cause of defending junk fees."
ALSO IN THE NEWS: A neuroscientist explains why stupidity is an existential threat to America