It was recently reported that the White House fired back at the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Sunday evening for opposing an economic spending package that included taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
“It doesn’t require a huge leap to figure out why one of the wealthiest individuals on Earth opposes an economic agenda for the middle class that cuts some of the biggest costs families face, fights inflation for the long haul, and adds to the historic deficit reduction the President is achieving by asking the richest taxpayers and corporations to pay their fair share,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement to The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein.
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Bates went on: “It’s also unsurprising that this tweet comes after the President met with labor organizers, including Amazon employees.”
Earlier that day Bezos had criticized President Joe Biden’s administration for trying to pass a social and climate spending package once known as Build Back Better. He argued it amounted to “more stimulus into an already over-heated, inflationary economy and only Manchin saved them from themselves.”
That was a reference to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a conservative Democrat who tanked the spending plan in late December. Democrats have been unable to revive a smaller version of the package so far, and Manchin has swerved on whether he’s interested to back a bill. Democrats can’t approve the plan over unified GOP resistance without his support in the 50-50 Senate.
Biden’s Build Back Better plan is different from the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that he signed into law in March 2021. The stimulus was meant as a one-time relief effort to flood the economy with direct payments and unemployment benefits for individuals, aid to state and local governments, and money for public-health systems. The federal government didn’t raise revenue to finance that spending, so it was added to the national debt.
Some experts say it worsened inflation since it overpowered demand. Supply-chain bottlenecks and other pandemic-related disruptions have been a persistent factor in rising prices for groceries and gas.
The Build Back Better plan was intended to be fully paid for with tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans. While that bill has been on the back burner, Biden has been focused on repackaging his agenda to combat inflation as well as touting his labor credentials. He hosted union organizers from Amazon and Starbucks earlier this month, including Christian Smalls, the founder of Amazon Labor Union.
Workers at Staten Island’s JFK8 warehouse voted to unionize with the ALU in April — a first for Amazon, which the National Labor Relations Board accused of “threatening, surveilling, and interrogating” the unionizing workers.
Smalls has quickly become a prominent face of the revitalized labor movement, with politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rallying alongside him. Sanders had Smalls testify in front of the Senate Budget Committee.
“People are the ones who make these companies operate, and if we are not protected, and if the process for when we hold these companies accountable is not working for us, then that’s the reason why we’re here today,” Smalls testified. “That’s the reason why I’m here — to represent the workers who make these companies go.”
At the White House visit, Biden told Smalls, “You’re my kind of trouble.” And seemingly in a nod to continued unionization efforts at Amazon, Biden also said, “Let’s not stop.”