Washington Post: As Biden agenda advances in Congress, White House weighs new offensive on inflation

November 20, 2021 Media

After nearly eight months of gridlock, President Biden’s push to overhaul the economy is finally gaining momentum as congressional Democrats overcome their internal divisions and advance his signature legislative initiatives.

Long stymied by seemingly intractable divisions, Biden in the same week signed into law a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill while also pushing through the House of Representatives a separate, $2 trillion-plus social and climate policy measure that has become the centerpiece of the president’s vision to change the American economy. The president is also expected to pick the new chair of the Federal Reserve within days, a major decision shaping the nation’s economic fate.

A senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect internal thinking, said the administration has been focused since the beginning of the administration on antitrust measures — from housing to agriculture — aimed in part at reducing consumer costs. Senior White House officials published an analysis in September on the role of concentration in the meatpacking industry on higher prices. The administration has also already appointed a number of aggressive antitrust advocates to key positions.

“The White House is working to make clear inflation is not happening for organic reasons; it’s happening because it’s profitable for enormous corporations to raise prices on consumers,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, a think tank that supports aggressive antitrust policy, who said her views had been made clear to the administration.

Miller acknowledged Biden’s letter to the FTC about oil and gas companies, but said: “I think that strategy can be expanded through resources the White House has to do a broader and more urgent investigation into rising prices in key industries for consumers and identifying excess profits that’s resulting in. They should do that now.”