Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) noted on Monday that inflation is “really hurting Arizona families and families across the country” — but pinned the blame on corporations rather than fiscal or monetary policymakers.
As of December 2021, consumer prices are rising at a 7% clip. Meanwhile, “real average hourly earnings” — which consider the effect of inflation — decreased by 2.4% from December 2020 to December 2021.
In comments to Yahoo Finance, Kelly observed that “prices have gone up for gasoline, ground beef, milk, eggs, nearly everything.” In response, he said that companies producing staple goods are engaging in profiteering.
“We want Arizona families and families across the country to be able to afford groceries. This has been really challenging,” Kelly said. “I think this is going on in other industries, where you have big corporations that are taking certain steps to increase their profits on the backs of the American people.”
“Ranchers are getting the same amount for their beef that they did before the pandemic, but the prices have gone up. They’re not getting more for their product, though consumers are now paying, in Arizona, about $5 a pound for ground beef,” Kelly noted. “So something is happening, where the product goes from the ranch to the market.”
Kelly is echoing comments from progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is pinning higher price levels on companies’ price hikes rather than federal aid or monetary stimulus. For instance, Warren told Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo that the “immense market power” of semiconductor manufacturers is to blame for high car prices.
“This market concentration has reduced competition, allowing giant corporations to deliver massive returns for shareholders,” Warren wrote. “But it has harmed consumers by enabling these dominant companies to increase prices and underinvest in key capabilities, which has the effect of also reducing product innovation and product quality.”
“These semiconductor manufacturers are putting stock price, profits, and growth ahead of the needs of American consumers and workers,” the lawmaker continued. “As the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated, this behavior can lead to terrible consequences and shortages for our country.”
Warren made the same accusations against grocery chains.
“Your company, and the other major grocers who reaped the benefits of a turbulent 2020, appear to be passing costs on to consumers to preserve your pandemic gains, and even taking advantage of inflation to add greater burdens,” Warren wrote in a letter to the heads of Kroger, Albertsons, and Publix. “Your companies had a choice: They could have retained lower prices for consumers and properly protected and compensated their workers, or granted massive payouts to top executives and investors.”
In recent weeks, Warren slammed Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk over his wealth. The entrepreneur responded during an interview with The Babylon Bee.
“She struck first,” Musk said. “Obviously. She called me a freeloader and a grifter who doesn’t pay taxes, basically. And I’m literally paying the most tax that any individual in history has ever paid this year, ever.”
“And she doesn’t pay taxes, basically at all. And her salary is paid for by the taxpayer, like me,” Musk continued. “If you could die by irony, she would be dead. If irony could kill.”