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Jeff Bezos

Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos. (Photo: Andrej Sokolow/picture alliance via Getty Images)

'The Problem is Corporate Greed, Boss': Bezos Blasted for Defense of Big Oil Price-Gouging

'Bezos scared," said one progressive economist after the world's second-richest person went to bat for Big Oil.

Jon Queally

Progressives ripped billionaire Jeff Bezos for his latest defense of corporate profiteering over the weekend in which the Amazon founder and world's second-richest person criticized a call by President Joe Biden for oil companies to lower the price of gasoline.

On Saturday, Bezos accused President Joe Biden of "misdirection" and ignorance "of basic market dynamic" in response to a tweet from the president which called on companies setting gasoline prices to "bring down the price you are charging."

While Bezos' comment sparked a sharp response from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre—who said pump prices remaining constant despite a steep drop in crude oil prices isn't "basic market dynamics" but rather "a market that is failing the American consumer"—progressive critics also jumped into the fray.

Warren Gunnels, a longtime aide of Sen. Bernie Sanders and who currently serves as the Majority Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, responded to the back-and-forth between the White House and Bezos by offering a comparative rundown between the current price of gasoline and what it was in 2014:

"Ouch," said Gunnels, mocking Bezos. "Gas prices soared because of Big Oil's greed. We need a windfall profits tax."

In an earlier response, Gunnels pointed out the massive profits Amazon has enjoyed during the pandemic even as the retail raised prices for its consumers and launched an aggressive anti-union campaign against company employees organizing for better wages and working conditions.

"Ouch," tweeted Gunnels. "Amazon falsely blamed inflation on a 17% price hike on a Prime membership after its profit skyrocketed 453% since the pandemic while avoiding $5 billion in taxes, paying union busters $375 an hour and denying workers paid sick leave. The problem is corporate greed, boss."

In May, an analysis detailed how large oil and gas companies have used soaring profits—up 155% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the year previous—to reward their shareholders and executives instead of offering relief to consumers.

As Common Dreams reported Sunday, such soaring profits by oil giants like Exxon Mobil have bolstered the continued call for a windfall profits tax—the revenue of which would be returned to consumers as a way to reduce the pain experienced at the pump. So far, the Biden administration has not aggressively embraced that progressive demand.

Economist Richard D. Wolff, professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, suggested Gunnels had it right.

"Bezos scared," Wolff responded on social media. "If supply less than demand markets raise prices (so too suppliers' profits). Oil suppliers know, use that. Gov't could cut prices, take over oil suppliers. Bezos fears same applies to Amazon 'services.' So wants to stop discussion."

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