Put The Blame Where It Belongs!

This morning I saw a tweet from none other than the shameful Texas Senator Ted Cruz in which, without facts or justification, he blamed President Biden and Democrats for rising prices and inflation.

I take umbrage with his laying of the blame on the very people who are trying to combat high prices and inflation.

Here are some cold, hard facts to chew on …

  • The 10 largest food companies saw their net incomes increase by $393.6 million in the first six months of 2022, while increasing shareholder handouts by $3.8 billion to a total of over $12.1 billion.
  • Prices for energy services rose 18.8% and electricity prices rose 15.2% from July 2021 to July 2022, leaving 20 million households at risk of losing electricity. Meanwhile, the five largest electricity and utility companies increased shareholder handouts by $378 million to over $6.5 billion in the first half of 2022.
  • While 18 million Americans were unable to afford prescription medications, the largest U.S. drugmakers saw profits jump by over $6 billion to $36 billion — all while boosting shareholder handouts by over $5.2 billion to $24.5 billion in the first half of 2022.
  • As housing prices increased 5.7% from July 2021 to July 2022 and rents hit “record highs,” the biggest apartment companies — Mid-America Apartments, Starwood Properties, and AvalonBay Communities — touted rent hikes to pad profits by $295.9 million while increasing shareholder handouts $33.9 million to nearly $1 billion in the first half of 2022.

And here’s what the experts have to say …

  • In a recent speech, Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Lael Brainard said that reductions in massive corporate profit markups can help to bring down inflation — once again demonstrating the link between price gouging and skyrocketing costs.
  • CEO Dara Khosrowshahi admitted in a recent CNBC interview that corporations like Uber are benefiting from inflation. Because of high prices on essential goods like gas and groceries, more people are signing up to be Uber drivers. He even said, “If anything, 72% of drivers in the U.S. are saying that one of the considerations of their signing up to drive on Uber was actually inflation.”
  • In this Forbes piece, Errol Schweizer lays out how market consolidation, price gouging, and excessive CEO pay are responsible for high food prices. To bring prices down, Congress needs to address each of these drivers of inflation, rather than simply looking to the Fed to continuously hike interest rates to decrease demand and send tens of millions of people into unemployment.
  • New polling from Navigator Research shows that nearly two in three Americans support the Inflation Reduction Act. Although Americans’ still hold negative views of the economy, overall pessimism is decreasing, with Black and Hispanic Americans in particular feeling more positive about their personal finances.

Source:  Dan Crawford, The Hub Project

There can be many causes for inflation, but today the biggest cause is corporate greed.  It began with the pandemic when the already-wealthy corporate CEOs saw an opportunity, and then it was further bolstered by Russia’s war against Ukraine that disrupted supply chains, and again the corporations saw an opportunity … an excuse … to gouge consumers.  To blame President Biden, who just signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, is the epitome of ignorance at best, and a bald-faced lie at worst.  Mr. Cruz needs to do some research before he opens his mouth … but oh wait … he’s a Republican and they don’t believe in facts, only rhetoric and conspiracy theories.

Will Jeff Sessions, Racist, Be Confirmed This Week?

This morning at 9:30 the Senate Judiciary Committee will open the senate confirmation hearings for Trump nominee Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General.  The hearings will be held over a two-day period, concluding on Wednesday.  You can find a full schedule of hearings for the week here.

I have mentioned Sessions in numerous posts, and in late November I wrote this one detailing the reasons I am against his nomination.   There is no need to re-hash old ground, so suffice it to say that Sessions is a proven racist who will likely set civil rights back 100 years if confirmed.  How likely is his confirmation? Let us look at some of the things that may affect the process.

First, each nominee is required to be cleared by both the independent Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and the FBI.  There is concern because a number of Trump’s nominees have not yet completed the process nor filed the appropriate financial paperwork, though apparently Sessions is not among those, which would indicate that he has already been cleared by both agencies.  The purpose of this OGE review is to review potential conflicts of interest and determine the course of action the nominee must take in order to resolve such conflicts.

Second, on Tuesday, Sessions will face questions on his 20-year tenure in the Senate, including his staunch stances on immigration, mass incarceration and civil rights. Then on Wednesday the second part of Sessions’ confirmation hearing follows very public pushbacks from the NAACP, whose members staged a sit-in at his Alabama office last week and were arrested, and by more than 1,400 faculty members from 180 law schools in 49 states, all of whom signed a letter opposing his nomination for attorney general. Other groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have publicly opposed Sessions’ appointment on the grounds of his stance on police reform, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, criminal justice reform, Muslims’ rights, racial justice, LGBT rights, women’s rights, privacy rights, torture, and abortion rights. Frankly I have to wonder if two days will be enough to cover all the questions he should be made to answer.

Once the hearings are complete, the Judiciary Committee can either move the nomination to the Senate floor for a vote, or decide not to, which in essence kills the nomination and it would be back to the drawing board for Trump. If the nomination is moved to the Senate floor, the Judiciary Committee makes a recommendation, either pro, con, or neutral.

Third, this is the makeup of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will conduct the hearings and make a recommendation to the entire Senate:

Majority – Republican

Minority – Democrat

Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Chairman Dianne Feinstein, California, Ranking Member
Orrin Hatch, Utah Patrick Leahy, Vermont
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Dick Durbin, Illinois
John Cornyn, Texas Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island
Mike Lee, Utah Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
Ted Cruz, Texas Al Franken, Minnesota
Ben Sasse, Nebraska Chris Coons, Delaware
Jeff Flake, Arizona Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
Mike Crapo, Idaho Mazie Hirono, Haiwaii
Thom Tillis, North Carolina  
John Neely Kennedy, Louisiana  

The present modus operandi seems to be that most all Republicans in Congress are supporting Trump in all things.  Good little lap puppies they are.  One concern is that Senator Cruz is vociferously supporting the nomination.  He wrote a piece for Politico  that I encourage you to read.  I found it highly offensive, given Sessions’ history. I suspect that Cruz will sway any errant Republican members of the committee who might be considering voting ‘nay’ with his strong-arm, bullying tactics.

Fourth, there is the composition of the entire Senate.  The Senate is comprised of 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats. If every senator votes along party lines, then the simple majority will be made and Sessions will become the next Attorney General of the United States.  If, however, just three Republican senators vote against the confirmation, then he will not be confirmed.  In the event of a tie, Mike Pence will cast the tie-breaking vote, and we all know how he will vote.  The simple fact that there is a Republican majority in the Senate would likely indicate that Sessions’ hearing and subsequent confirmation will go through with little or no resistance from the majority. My hope is that, given the past history and contentiousness of this particular nominee, one might hope that there are at least three Republican senators who would follow their conscience, if in fact they are possessed of one. (One interesting aside:  Senator Sessions can actually vote for himself, as he no doubt will.) The Washington Post predicts that most of Trump’s nominees, including Jeff Sessions, will be confirmed with few problems, and I am inclined to agree.  But we shall see.  Perhaps there are a few good men sitting on the right in the Senate.

***ABC News has an excellent, informative article titled Senate Confirmation Hearings: Everything to Know.  It is a plain language, understandable explanation of the process that I highly recommend.