WASHINGTON– Jeff Bezos became the latest centibillionaire to launch a political fight on Twitter over the weekend when he denounced a tweet from President Joe Biden on corporate taxes as “misinformation” and “hijacking”.
The White House was quick to retort on Monday that Bezos “opposes an economic agenda for the middle class.” And then Bezos hit back, arguing that the Biden administration would have made inflation worse had his $3.5 trillion economic and social spending bill, known as “Build Back Better,” been signed into law. .
“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,” tweeted Bezos.
The dispute is unusually high-profile for Bezos, who has generally sought to avoid political fights in public. Bezos is the second richest person in the world, with a net worth of $150 billion, behind Elon Musk, whose wealth has reached $268 billion. Musk, the Tesla founder who is looking to buy Twitter, has frequently used the social media platform to attack suspected critics and provoke fights over free speech.
The spat began on Friday, when Biden’s account tweeted, “Want to lower inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest companies pay their fair share.
Biden has often accused Amazon, the e-commerce giant Bezos founded and led for nearly a quarter century, of not paying its fair share of taxes. In 2017 and 2018, Amazon paid no income tax despite making billions in profits. Since then, the company has made modest tax payments.
“Good to discuss raising corporate taxes,” Bezos tweeted in response. “It is essential to discuss the control of inflation. Mixing them together is just a misdirection.
On the real policy question — whether raising corporate taxes would actually reduce inflation — most economists give Biden the edge, with one caveat.
“The idea would be that increasing corporate tax would reduce business spending and reduce aggregate demand in the economy and put downward pressure on prices,” said Michael Strain, an economist at the Conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Still, Strain and most other economists warn that it would take several months for a rate hike to have a meaningful impact, Strain said, and even then wouldn’t reduce inflation much.
“Of all the things I would do to contain inflation, corporate income tax is way down the list,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust, an asset management firm in Chicago. .