Republicans have been denying corporations’ role in rising prices and instead blaming inflation on Democrats. But a new investigation has found that the same corporations that profited greatly from rising inflation last year have also donated millions to those same Republicans.
A new report by Accountable.US finds that 18 Republicans who have been the most vocal in shielding corporations from being blamed for rising prices have received over $5.7 million in donations from roughly 30 top companies that reported making $151 million more in 2021 than they did in 2020.
These Republicans have gone to great lengths to blame the inflation on Democrats in the face of mounting evidence that corporations are at least partially responsible for the current squeeze on consumers.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was the leading fundraiser among these Republicans; McConnell has taken $1.24 million from companies like Walmart, ExxonMobil and Pfizer during his time in office. Earlier this year, he issued a press release saying that the Biden administration is “failing” the working class and that this administration cannot take credit for the current economic recovery.
In reality, McConnell has gone to great lengths to harm middle- and lower-income workers during the pandemic. He voted against last March’s economic stimulus, which provided a much-needed boost to working Americans’ bank accounts, and decried Democrats’ social safety net bill last year as a “liberal wish list.” Those bills contained provisions like the expanded child tax credit that helped the poor and might have done much more if they had not been slashed.
Meanwhile, as inflation reaches new highs, corporations have been reaching into the pockets of the working class in order to pad their own profits and pay out shareholders. Recent data has shown that corporate profits reached record highs in 2021, growing by 25 percent year-over-year to $3 trillion. At the same time, price hikes, especially for essential goods, are hitting low-income people the hardest,
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), another loud inflation critic, has taken $946,000 in donations from the top profiting companies. Last month, he specifically criticized Democrats for saying that corporations are responsible for high prices, saying instead that inflation was due to the COVID relief package. Other Republicans, like Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington), have made similar claims while sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from top corporations.
While economic experts say that the relief package may have added to inflation, they also say that pandemic-driven uncertainty like supply chain issues are a much stronger driver of inflation rates. Meanwhile, corporations claim in public that inflation is what’s causing them to raise prices – when, in shareholder calls, they are bragging about raising prices beyond inflation costs and buying back stocks at record high rates.
“You don’t see any correlation between inflation and the generosity of fiscal relief. Inflation is up everywhere, regardless of whether countries were stingy or generous,” Economic Policy Institute director Josh Bivens told Salon. “You also have to think, ‘What did we get for a couple of percentage points of inflation?’ We got 6.5 million jobs created over a 13-month span – that is an incredibly fast rate of growth that just absolutely dwarfs any other recovery we’ve had before.”
Republicans are also opposed to policies suggested by Democrats that could stop the price gouging and ease the burden on working class Americans. Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced a bill that would levy a 95 percent tax on all excess profits for large corporations in order to ensure that companies aren’t taking advantage of crises like the pandemic and conflict abroad to price gouge.
GOP lawmakers roundly opposed the idea. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) called the idea a “disaster,” while Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said – without evidence – that Democrats were “misdiagnosing the cause of inflation.”
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