But Democrats should also be doing more to point the finger at the businesses who are helping to foment the problem. The Wall Street Journal reports that companies in many different sectors are using this inflationary spike as a cover to raise prices faster than their costs, essentially betting that consumers won’t object when they already see prices rising all around them. According to the report, nearly two out of three big, publicly traded US companies have seen larger profit margins this year than in the same period in 2019. Inflation might be hurting consumers, but it’s a boom year for corporate America.
Democrats ought to use all the tools of government to highlight and combat these abuses. As Biden has been finding out, public anger over inflation tends to be directed towards the incumbent president – and the only way to survive might be to redirect it at a more appropriate target. The presidential bully pulpit can be used to highlight corporate abuses and regulatory investigations, such as the one already announced by the FTC into the oil and gas sector, can hold industries to account and combat potentially illegal practices. Nor should Democrats stop there. They control both houses of Congress and should consider holding congressional hearings to name and shame particularly egregious price-gougers.
Whether any of these measures will actually serve to lower prices is an open question. But the only responsible thing to do is try.