Jeff Bezos lashed out at Joe Biden’s White House on Monday over policies he said risked fueling inflation, escalating a war of words over what caused the sharp rise in prices that has come to dominate American politics in an election year.
The Amazon founder and the world’s third-richest person took aim at the Biden administration’s failed Build Back Better bill, which would have raised taxes on the wealthy and big business to pay for childcare expenses. children, education and climate change programs.
“The administration has done its best to add an additional $3.5 trillion to federal spending,” he said on Twitter. “They failed, but if they had succeeded, inflation would be even higher than it is today, and inflation today is at its highest level in 40 years.”
Bezos’ attack was an unusual outburst for one of the world’s best-known businessmen, who has never used Twitter to engage in contentious political disputes.
This follows a back-and-forth with the White House that began on Friday, when Bezos took to Twitter to slam a Biden tweet suggesting that one of the reasons inflation had taken off was because wealthy businesses weren’t. did not pay enough taxes. Bezos countered that while high inflation and the level of taxes paid by corporations were issues worth discussing, he said the link between the two was a “non sequitur” that should be taken to the “Council of newly created disinformation”.
The White House reacted scathingly to Bezos’ tweets. “You don’t have to take a big leap to understand why one of the wealthiest people on the planet opposes a middle-class economic program that cuts some of the biggest costs families face. , fights long-term inflation and adds to the historic deficit reduction the president is achieving by asking the wealthiest taxpayers and corporations to pay their fair share,” a spokesperson said.
Bezos also came under fire on Monday from Lawrence Summers, the former US Treasury secretary who broke with most economists early last year to begin warning of the growing risk of inflation. Summers called the tech entrepreneur “mostly wrong”, adding that it was “perfectly reasonable to believe . . . that we should raise taxes to reduce demand in order to contain inflation and that the increases should be as gradual as possible “.
Tensions between Bezos and the Biden administration have been heightened by the president’s support for organized labor, including organizing efforts at Amazon that have grown since Biden took office 18 months ago. “Nor is it surprising that this tweet comes after the President met with union organizers, including Amazon employees,” the White House spokesperson said.
Since stepping down as CEO of Amazon last year, Bezos has become increasingly active on Twitter and has used it to occasionally quip about his personal opinions, but not with the frequency or frequency. the vehemence of rival tech billionaire Elon Musk. Last month, Bezos suggested in a tweet that Tesla’s heavy reliance on sales to China could give the Chinese government leverage to force Musk to bow to censorship after his planned purchase of Twitter.
Like Musk, Bezos has shown libertarian political instincts and once fought a bitter fight with Amazon’s hometown of Seattle over a proposed tax hike. Amazon has also long resisted unionizing its employees, which has put it at odds with the Biden administration.
However, he has also occasionally supported liberal causes, including making large donations to advocate for same-sex marriage in his home state of Washington, and hired Jay Carney, a former Obama White House press secretary, to to lead public policy and communications at Amazon. .
The public spat between Bezos and the White House is symptomatic of broader friction between business and the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers over inflation, with some officials accusing US companies of price gouging and profiting from the rising prices to the detriment of ordinary consumers.
However, most economists say the current inflationary pressures are due to a combination of factors, including strong demand from government stimulus measures and the rebound from the recession linked to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the shock of oil prices exacerbated by war in Ukraine, and supply. chain bottlenecks that have been more persistent than expected.