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Members of Congress have asked regulators to ensure fair grocery competition, to investigate whether digital coupons are discriminatory, and have even proposed legislation to outlaw “shrinkflation.” Now, dozens of lawmakers are going right to the top, and urging the president to do more to help bring down grocery prices.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Jim McGovern, together with dozens of their Democratic colleagues, have sent a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to take stronger action against rising food prices, without waiting for regulators or Congress.

“The federal government should use every possible tool to lower food prices,” the letter reads. “We believe you can exercise your executive authority to take additional action to address rising food prices without congressional action.”

Many grocery manufacturers and retailers have pointed to the impact of the Covid pandemic as the cause of grocery inflation, and have defended raising prices as a way to cover their own rising costs. But in some cases, these lawmakers say that’s just a cover story for corporate greed. With grocery price increases outpacing inflation, the letter blames “excessive price gouging by food and grocery giants.”

“These companies have raked in record profits in recent years,” the lawmakers’ letter goes on, chiding food company executives for “bragging” about their price hikes while “urging Americans ‘to eat cereal for dinner and use Doritos as a side dish'” to save money.

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The lawmakers are asking President Biden to encourage or direct federal agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture to investigate and act against price fixing, anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions and other practices that can result in higher prices at the grocery store.

“Your Administration has taken critical steps to lower food prices,” the lawmakers tell the president, crediting him for taking steps such as challenging the proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger and combating price-fixing in the agricultural industry, and he’s expressed support for efforts to combat shrinkflation. But they’re urging him to do more, and “leverage the full scope of your executive authority on this issue.”

“Congress has stalled out on doing work that it could do to help families lower costs,” Warren said in an interview with Time. “The President has the tools to fight back.” While she credits the administration with taking some steps to address the problem, “our letter points out there are even more tools available,” she said. “There will be plenty of support in Congress if the Administration will pick those tools up and use them.”

When it comes to grocery inflation, Warren has positioned herself as a pro-consumer progressive, urging the FTC to challenge the Kroger-Albertsons merger, which it has; sending a letter to the FTC urging it to enforce fair competition laws to help bring down grocery prices; and introducing legislation to crack down on shrinkflation and price gouging.

While only Democrats signed on to this latest letter, all of them say grocery prices are a concern that resonates across party lines. “Americans across the political spectrum have pointed to the cost of food and groceries as their top concern related to inflation,” the letter concludes. “These proposals are just examples of the additional actions your Administration can take to help families at the grocery store. The American people are relying on your Administration to combat corporate greed and higher food prices.”

It was the Republican icon Ronald Reagan who once said, “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” But with grocery prices claiming a bigger chunk of our budgets, and little relief in sight, frustrated shoppers might just welcome any help – wherever it ultimately comes from.

Image source: Aberdeen Proving Ground

One Comment

  1. Typical Democrats. Create the problem through insane policies then demand more government regulation to solve it

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