In fact, the idea of using taxes to control inflation has recently been in vogue on the left, in the form of something called modern monetary theory. Proponents of this theory argue that a government such as ours, which borrows in its own currency, can deficit-finance almost any amount of new spending, using fiscal policy to tamp down any resulting inflation. That theory remained popular right up to the point where the inflation actually materialized. Now, we can all acknowledge what should have been blindingly obvious from the start: At a time when consumers are already suffering from price hikes, politicians are not going to add insult to injury by raising taxes or cutting government benefits.
Since the thing that actually works is politically foolish, Democrats such as Warren are resorting to conspiracy theories and quack cures. The conspiracy theory is “greedflation,” which blames rising prices on corporate greed. (They’re right, of course, that corporations are greedy, but they didn’t all of a sudden get massively more greedy in January 2021.) The quack cure is simply forbidding firms to raise prices under threat of legal sanction.
This is a stealth variation on the wage-and-price controls imposed by President Richard M. Nixon in 1971, early in the country’s last great bout of inflation. Even Nixon appears to have understood that they wouldn’t work, since they didn’t actually address the underlying problem.