Sen. Jeff Merkley Joins Warren, Baldwin, Schakowsky and Colleagues in a Fight to Eliminate Corporate Price Gouging
Opportunistic corporations are using inflation to conceal their abuse of pricing power, exponentially increasing prices for American consumers
Washington, D.C. – As Oregonians face rising prices for everyday essentials, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today joined U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in introducing the Price Gouging Prevention Act of 2022. This legislation would tackle the inflation and rising prices consumers are facing by prohibiting the practice of price gouging during all abnormal market disruptions – including the current pandemic. The bill would authorize the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general to enforce a federal ban against unconscionably excessive price increases, regardless of a seller’s position in a supply chain. This legislation also strengthens and expands requirements for public companies to disclose their pricing strategies in their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and grants new funding to the FTC. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute concluded that fatter corporate profit margins have driven more than half of price increases since 2020.
“Americans are sick and tired of being taken advantage of. Whether it’s outrageous prices for prescription medications, the high cost of gas, or the rising costs of everyday necessities, price gouging only benefits big corporations,” said Senator Merkley. “In the Senate, we work for the American people, not for Big Pharma or Big Oil. These companies can’t be allowed to use a deadly pandemic, a war, or any other abnormal market disruptor as another opportunity to price-gouge Americans—we have to put the interests of the American people above the interests of lining executives’ pockets.”
American families already struggling to make ends meet during this public-health crisis should not be burdened even further by companies out to boost profits. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in demand for—and shortage of—many essential consumer products and necessities. While several retailers have taken steps to maintain access to these products, there have been numerous reports of corporations taking advantage of the current crisis to prey on consumers by hiding behind rising inflation and raising prices even more than necessary to cover any increases in their costs. In a call with investors, the CEO of grocery chain Kroger noted that “a little bit of inflation is always good in our business.”