Chris Lieberman, FISM News
A brief tweet from the president’s account on Friday escalated into a war of words over the weekend, as Joe Biden and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos exchanged barbs on Twitter over inflation and taxing the wealthy.
The feud began when the president tweeted on Friday, “You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.” Though the tweet did not mention Amazon by name, Bezos fired back, saying, “The newly created Disinformation Board should review this tweet,” before adding, “Raising corp taxes is fine to discuss. Taming inflation is critical to discuss. Mushing them together is just misdirection.”
The newly created Disinformation Board should review this tweet, or maybe they need to form a new Non Sequitur Board instead. Raising corp taxes is fine to discuss. Taming inflation is critical to discuss. Mushing them together is just misdirection. https://t.co/ye4XiNNc2v
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) May 14, 2022
Biden and his allies were quick to fire back at the world’s second-richest man, with White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates saying in a statement, “It doesn’t require a huge leap to figure out why one of the wealthiest individuals on Earth opposes an economic agenda for the middle class that cuts some of the biggest costs families face, fights inflation for the long haul, and adds to the historic deficit reduction the president is achieving by asking the richest taxpayers and corporations to pay their fair share.”
Bates also said, “It’s also unsurprising that this tweet comes after the President met with labor organizers, including Amazon employees.” Earlier this month, the president also hosted Amazon Labor Union President Christian Smalls at the White House.
Bezos then responded, accusing the White House of intentionally changing the topic to distract from the Biden administration’s culpability in the country’s soaring inflation. “Remember the Administration tried their best to add another $3.5 TRILLION to federal spending,” he wrote. “They failed, but if they had succeeded, inflation would be even higher than it is today, and inflation today is at a 40 year high.”
their best to add another $3.5 TRILLION to federal spending. They failed, but if they had succeeded, inflation would be even higher than it is today, and inflation today is at a 40 year high.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) May 16, 2022
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers came to the president’s defense, tweeting, “I think @JeffBezos is mostly wrong in his recent attack on the @JoeBiden Admin. It is perfectly reasonable to believe, as I do and @POTUS asserts, that we should raise taxes to reduce demand to contain inflation and that the increases should be as progressive as possible.”
While the exchange is the first public spat between Bezos and Biden, the president has called out Amazon in the past for their tax history. Leading up to the 2020 presidential election, then-candidate Biden said in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, “I think Amazon should start paying their taxes. I don’t think any company… should absolutely be in a position where they pay no tax and make billions and billions and billions of dollars.”
Amazon paid no federal income taxes in 2017 or 2018 due to tax credits and deductions. Over the past four years, the company has paid $4 billion in federal taxes on over $78 billion in reported income, for an effective tax rate of 5.1%, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, writer James Freeman accused the president of purposely conflating inflation and taxing the wealthy in his tweets, saying, “The chilling possibility here is that Mr. Biden understands exactly what he’s saying and that he intends to use confiscatory taxation to depress economic activity in a misguided belief that he can reduce demand and end inflation by crushing business.”
Freeman went on to say, “Investors have lately been tortured by a fear that the Fed cannot slay inflation without triggering a recession. Now along comes the disturbing prospect that slowing the economy may be official White House policy.”