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U.S. Sen. Bob Casey assails corporations for holding consumers captive to ‘greedflation’

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U.S. Sen. Bob Casey assails corporations for holding consumers captive to ‘greedflation’

Apr 02, 2024 | 6:53 pm ET
By John Cole
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U.S. Sen. Bob Casey assails corporations for holding consumers captive to ‘greedflation’
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U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, left, moderator Jordan Casey, center no relation, and Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan talk about the economy in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (John Cole/Capital-Star)

PHILADELPHIA— U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina M. Khan discussed their plans to combat big corporations excessively increasing prices for goods during a roundtable discussion Tuesday. 

“They have in a sense, my view of it, a captive audience,” said Casey (D-Pa.). “A captive set of a group of consumers. These corporations, they are not jacking up the prices and lamenting it, they’re going on these shareholder calls and bragging about it, over and over again, saying ‘this is great we can do this, we deserve to do this.’”

“It’s an abuse,” Casey added. “It’s a perversion of capitalism, that’s what it is.”

Casey has introduced a pair of bills, the Shrinkflation Prevention Act and the Price Gouging Prevention Act, aimed at addressing the matter. 

The Price Gouging Prevention Act would crack down on corporate price gouging and protect American families from “greedflation” by creating a “new federal ban on grossly excessive price increases, and authorize the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general to enforce the ban.”

The Shrinkflation Prevention Act would penalize corporations that deceive consumers by selling smaller sizes of their products without lowering the prices.

“We gotta crack down on it,” Casey said. “We’re not going to throw up our hands and walk away from this.” 

Khan credited Casey for calling out corporations. She also detailed the FTC’s proposed rules that would ban junk fees, stop companies from trapping people into subscriptions, and address algorithmic collusion, which she said is a violation of the antitrust law, arguing that these changes would protect consumers. 

Several panelists told Casey and Khan about their struggles with higher grocery prices and more. 

Panelist Taylor Austin of Philadelphia highlighted her family’s difficulty making ends meet raising a toddler, while her husband lost his job. She said her average household monthly bill for groceries has increased by $200 in the last year. 

“I don’t ever want any family to feel the level of stress and strain that we experienced because they can’t afford diapers, because they can’t afford food, because they can’t afford their housing, that is ridiculous,” she said. “Families are just trying to survive, to live, and it is the responsibility of corporations, it is the responsibility of our legislators to help families do just that.”

Since November 2023, Casey’s office has released a series of reports highlighting the impact that “greedflation” is having on Pennsylvanians.

Speaking with reporters following the half-hour discussion, Casey said some of the issues of “greedflation” predate the coronavirus pandemic, but that’s when it “really began to take off.” 

Casey said it is important that the government uses “every tool at our disposal,” calling for his passage of his legislation or finding a way to “short circuit” its passage by attaching it to other legislation. 

“We hope to get it passed this year,” Casey said. “That’s my goal.” 

Casey didn’t mention by name David McCormick, his likely Republican challenger for U.S. Senate this November, but said that “greedflation” is an issue he differs with his opponent on, adding that at this time, there is no Republican support for his legislation.

The topic of “greedflation” is also playing a role during Casey’s bid for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. 

Throughout the campaign, Casey has often used it as a talking point to rally against big corporations, while McCormick has blamed President Joe Biden’s administration for inflation. 

Casey’s second advertisement of the campaign released last week also spotlights the issue. 

During Biden’s State of the Union address in March, he urged Congress to “pass Bobby Casey’s bill and stop shrinkflation.”

An Emerson College Poll conducted March 10-13 showed Casey leading McCormick by 4 points, while former President Donald Trump leads Biden by 4 points in the Keystone State. According to that poll, 36% of voters said the economy is the top issue for them, making it the most important issue for voters in Pennsylvania.

McCormick is scheduled to be in Philadelphia on Wednesday.