The White House responded for at least the second time in as many days today to tweets from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in a war of words over, well — the parties also argued over what the argument was about.
Bezos tweeted this morning that “the administration tried 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.”
White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates replied by quote-tweeting an assessment from Jeff Stein, White House Economics Reporter for the Bezos-owned Washington Post in which Stein countered his paper’s owner directly.
“The WH’s long-term spending plans were offset by higher higher taxes on the rich and corporations, leading Larry Summers and other prominent economists to argue that their inflationary impact would likely be negligible by reducing demand.”
The WH’s long-term spending plans were offset by major higher taxes on the rich and corporations, leading Larry Summers and other prominent economists to argue that their inflationary impact would likely be negligible by reducing demand https://t.co/S2LmCmA8IQ
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) May 16, 2022
Biden has often called for greater taxes on the nation’s wealthiest citizens and corporations, lists on which Bezos and Amazon appear prominently. The president also met recently with leaders who unionized an Amazon warehouse and spoke before union members last week, two decisions that the White House later hinted at may have influenced Bezos’ opposition.
It all started Friday afternoon when President Biden wrote on the social media platform, “You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.”
Do you want to bring down inflation?
Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 13, 2022
That evening, Bezos decided to share his reaction.
“The newly created Disinformation Board should review this tweet, or maybe they need to form a new Non Sequitur Board instead,” he wrote in part. “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
The sometimes richest man in the world jumped back into the scrum again Sunday morning, leveling the misdirection allegation again and contending that the White House had sought a stimulus package when the economy was already overheated before saying that “inflation is a regressive tax that most hurts the least affluent.”
Three hours later on Sunday, the administration fired back for the first time. In what was surely a tweak at Bezos, Bates shared the official WH reaction with the paper Bezos owns:
“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 cost 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.”
The White House statement went on, “It’s also unsurprising that this tweet comes after the President met with labor organizers, including Amazon employees.”
Amazon paid no federal taxes in 2017 and 2018, a fact that Biden has frequently referenced when calling for higher taxes on the wealthiest individuals and corporations. In 2019, the then-Democratic presidential candidate got in another Twitter spat with Amazon itself saying, “no company pulling in billions of dollars of profits should pay a lower tax rate than firefighters and teachers,” to which Amazon replied it had paid $2.6 billion in taxes since 2016.
The more recent social media melee escalated this morning, with former Obama and Clinton administration economist Larry Summers tweeting in support of Biden, Bezos invoking the “Squirrel!” meme from Pixar’s up, reporter Stein weighing in with reporting that bolstered Biden’s case and then Bates going back at Bezos yet again. You can follow along below.
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
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.
— Lawrence H. Summers (@LHSummers) May 16, 2022
White House responds to Bezos criticism, points out the very richest would pay more under WH agenda
WH also points out Bezos’ criticism of Biden comes after the president met with Amazon labor union leadership
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) May 16, 2022
Axios, 5/5/22: “Biden meets with Amazon Labor Union leader at White House”
— Andrew Bates (@AndrewJBates46) May 16, 2022