President Obama extolled the virtues of free market competition in signing a new executive order that will direct government agencies to take steps to shake up areas of the economy dominated by corporate monopolies.

"Competition is good for consumers," Obama told Yahoo Finance in an interview at the White House, which aired Friday morning.

"And ultimately it's good for business. That's the way the free market works. The more competition we have, the more products, services, innovation takes place," he added.

Obama, who is making the government-wide push in the final months of his presidency, said he has directed the Commerce Department to file paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission to demand that it increase competition in the set-top cable TV box market.

The president is taking aim at the boxes millions of Americans use every day because the costs of their rentals have shot up in recent years while the cost of other electronics such as computers and televisions have dropped dramatically, according to research by the White House.

The cost to rent one of these boxes has risen 185 percent while other electronics most Americans use has decreased by 90 percent, the research found.

"It's been tied to the provider, and you rent it and consumers spend billions of dollars on this every year," Obama said. "There hasn't been much innovation."

The president also indirectly accused the cable industry of intentionally gouging consumers.

"I think the general theme is that American business is the cornerstone of our economy," he said. "Our private sector thrives and innovation is the hallmark of the United States… But it starts to become less effective, and reduces both what consumers get and the kind of innovation we generate if we get closed systems or if people are gaming the system."

The Council of Economic Advisers released a report that took aim at increased merger-and-acquisition activity of corporate America, arguing that firms are crowding out potential competitors and government regulations have barred companies from increasing competition.

The CEA tracked 13 different industries, from transportation and warehousing to retail trade, healthcare and assistance, and noted how they have consolidated since 1997. The top 50 firms in each industry have seen the share of their market grow exponentially, the study found.

Obama also blamed Republicans without specifically calling the party out for the decreased competition in the marketplace.

"I think that Congress has been stuck, partly for ideological reasons, in taking some common sense steps that would improve the economy and help working families," he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration has already tried to take actions to increase competition by providing smaller airline carriers with greater access to takeoff and landing slots at some of the busiest "slot-controlled" airports.

"Consumer actions like this … they seem small-bore initially 'cause they don't get a lot of attention, but they can add up to billions of dollars out of the pockets of consumers," he said.

The president also impugned some aspects of the economic recovery he has largely taken credit for leading.

"[Wages and incomes] haven't gone up as quickly as people had been accustomed to in previous generations," he said. "But the fact of the matter is it is indisputable that the economy is much better now than it was when I came into office. We're continuing to make progress. And my hope is that during this debate we focus very practically on what are the additional steps we can take to make a difference."

Obama didn't comment on the heated debate in the Democratic primary over whether to break up big banks. On Thursday night, Bernie Sanders appeared to back off direct government intervention in dissolving large Wall Street financial institutions by saying that the government could give only broad instructions to banks to avoid expanding beyond a certain size, but said the details would be left of to the banks and their managers.

"I don't know that it's appropriate for the Department of Treasury to be making those decisions," he said.

Clinton quickly jumped in to slam Sanders for voting for bills that helped deregulate markets in derivatives and futures, what the Washington Post points out, was an omnibus, 11,000-page bill that dealt with a broad range of subjects and President Bill Clinton signed into law.