On The Money — Bezos bashes Biden over inflation

·5 min read

The White House and President Biden’s favorite corporate foil are fighting over fiscal policy. We’ll also look at how Washington is responding to the plunge in cryptocurrency values and promising news on the baby formula front.

But first, read about why lawmakers will discuss UFOs on Tuesday.

Welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Sylvan LaneAris Folley and Karl Evers-HillstromSubscribe here.

White House hits back over Bezos’ inflation tweet

The White House on Monday fired back at criticism from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos over its economic policies in the latest back-and-forth between the administration and the tech and retail magnate.

“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,” deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement.

“It’s also unsurprising that this tweet comes after the President met with labor organizers, including Amazon employees,” Bates added.

The background: Monday’s jabs mark the latest escalation in what has been a tense relationship between the Biden administration and Amazon.

President Biden routinely singles out Amazon for not paying federal taxes in speeches calling for higher tax rates on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

And he met earlier this month with labor leaders who led efforts to unionize an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island in New York, a first for Amazon workers.

The Hill’s Brett Samuels has it all here.

TERRA-BLE 

Plunge in crypto values boosts calls for regulations

A plunge in cryptocurrency values and the collapse of popular tokens are stoking panic among some investors and boosting pressure on Washington to act.

Rising interest rates and recession risks have caused sharp sell-offs across financial markets, including the stock market. Many crypto investors have seen their holdings evaporate — along with major players in the burgeoning digital asset space.

  • The value of one bitcoin plunged 12 percent last week alone to roughly $29,700, its lowest level since July 2021 and just half the all-time high of $64,440 set in November.

  • Ethereum, another popular cryptocurrency, is down 24 percent this week alone and nearly 50 percent on the year as well.

But their steep recent declines have sent shockwaves through the broader crypto market, knocking out the Terra network entirely. Sylvan has the latest here. 

HOUSING BOOST 

White House releases plan to boost housing supply


The White House on Monday outlined a plan to boost housing availability and lower costs for renters and homeowners, portraying it as part of a broader effort to combat inflation for Americans.

The administration released a “Housing Supply Action Plan” that officials said would produce more housing supply, including affordable units, in the next five years.

  • The plan introduces new financing mechanisms to build and preserve more housing and increase the availability of federal loans for multifamily developments, among other measures.

  • The White House aims to improve supply chain issues that hamper construction and finish construction on more new homes this year than in any year since 2006.

The White House also urged lawmakers to pass President Biden’s Unlocking Possibilities Program, which was passed last year by the House and would establish a new $1.75 billion grant program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Brett has more here

BABY BACK?

Abbott says deal reached to restart baby formula plant

Baby formula manufacturer Abbott Nutrition said it has reached an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a path to restart operations at its Sturgis, Mich., plant.


The facility has been shuttered for more than three months while the FDA investigated whether powdered formula from the plant caused four babies to contract a rare bacterial illness. Two of them died, and a subsequent FDA inspection found unsanitary conditions at the plant.

  • Abbott said the FDA has not been able to definitively link its formula to the illnesses. The company said it has been making corrective improvements to address the FDA’s concerns.

  • The shutdown has significantly worsened an already strained supply chain of infant formula but has hit the parents who rely on specialty formulas the hardest.

  • Still, the formula from the shuttered plant won’t be on shelves until six to eight weeks after the plant restarts operations.

The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel has more here.

Good to Know

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank made a “mistake” by responding too slowly to surging inflation. 

In a Monday interview with CNBC, Bernanke said the Fed should have started the process of hiking interest rates sooner than it did as inflation began to rise last year and the Biden administration pumped another $1.9 trillion in stimulus into the economy.

Here’s what else we have our eye on:

  • A group representing the nation’s largest tech companies is rolling out a seven-figure TV ad campaign slamming a key antitrust proposal that seeks to curb tech giants’ power, warning it could raise already soaring prices on consumers.

  • Goldman Sachs senior chairman and former CEO Lloyd Blankfein said on Sunday that the U.S. should prepare for a recession. 

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow. 

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