fresh voices from the front lines of change







Giant corporations and billionaires want to keep their taxes low and the prices we pay high. That’s why they want Trump back in office.



In 2004, I was a single mom raising three daughters on my own. I worked three jobs, including an overnight shift as a translator at our local hospital, to make ends meet. Every time I stood in line at the supermarket, I worried about what I would have to put back on the shelf to stay within our weekly budget of $100 for food.  

My daughters are all grown now, yet whenever I’m buying groceries, I still get that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach as I remember not knowing if we would have enough to eat, and how much - or how little - I could provide for my family with $100.

Prices for all of us have gone way up since COVID, and $100 now buys about $65 worth of groceries, compared to five years ago. This puts a huge bite on working families, because we spend most of our income every month - as much as 90 percent - on food and other necessities. So when prices rise, we hurt the most. 

Big corporations and their Republican allies tell us President Biden is to blame for rising costs, but there’s a big part of the story they don’t want you to know: it’s that these giant corporations are, themselves, largely responsible for higher prices. 

According to a new report by the Federal Trade Commission, the largest grocery retailers - which include Walmart, Kroger and Amazon, which owns Whole Foods - used the pandemic as an excuse to raise prices across the board. The same is true for big agribusinesses like Tyson Foods and DuPont, which sell the lion’s share of meat products and seeds. These giant companies wrote themselves a blank check during COVID, which they now expect us to pay for.

What all of these corporations have in common is they always want to get bigger. Why? Because when consumers have fewer choices, corporations can force us to pay higher prices. This is especially true with food, which none of us can live without. And according to the FTC, a big reason for these higher prices is corporate greed.

Time and again, big companies tell us that if they could only get bigger, they will pass savings on to consumers. This is almost never true. Instead, they give money back to their investors and reward executives, like Walmart’s Doug McMillon, who takes home over $25 million a year, and Kroger’s Rodney McMullen, who makes more than $19 million. That’s 671 times more than the amount an average Kroger’s worker makes.

Corporate consolidation can have deadly consequences. In health care, which People’s Action tracks closely through our Care Over Cost campaign,  we see that the domination of private insurance by a handful of companies - Aetna, United Healthcare and Cigna - leads to bigger bills, worse health outcomes, and lost lives.

The profits of retailers and agribusinesses have now risen to record levels, by as much as five times the rate of inflation. How do companies like Tyson Foods, Kroger and Walmart boost profits? The way they always do: by raising prices, while 65 percent of Americans still live paycheck to paycheck. 

This is a problem for President Biden, who wants working-class voters to feel the benefits of his efforts to reduce inflation, and the steps he has taken to defend workers and create good jobs in local communities, with $2 trillion of investments in manufacturing, infrastructure, and green energy to revive the economy.

Yet for working families, as long as we feel inflation’s grip, it is hard to feel anything else. And while unemployment has fallen to record lows under President Biden, we can’t keep up with the higher prices these giant corporations force us to pay.

Biden’s opponents know this, and that’s why a campaign funded by conservative mega-donors like Charles Koch is targeting Latino voters and putting flyers in supermarkets blaming Biden for increases in the price of eggs, milk and sugar. While they’re at it, they say Biden’s efforts to protect workers hurt small businesses and entrepreneurs.  

What Koch and other ultra-rich conservatives don’t want you to know is that their own corporate greed is what’s really behind these higher prices.

Giant corporations want less competition and regulations so they can pay their workers less and raise their prices at will. And they want Trump, who cut their taxes by more than $2 trillion in 2017, back in office. They know Trump will rubber-stamp their mergers and acquisitions, which means more for them and less for us. This is why they are spending big to put Trump back in. Because if Trump wins, they get another big payday!

We appreciate the Biden administration’s efforts to block big mergers in food and agriculture, like Kroger’s recent bid to buy the Albertsons supermarket chain. Yet Biden must follow through on his promises to make life easier for everyday Americans, especially my daughters’ generation, who also face the crippling burden of student debt. 

If Trump wins, we all lose. Because Trump and his billionaire allies bend over backwards to help the giant corporations who drive up what we pay at the supermarket, and everywhere else. 

No American should ever have to work three or more jobs just to survive: not in 2004, 2024, or 2044. We want a world in which every one of us has what we need not only to live, but also to dream. So when we vote in November, we must remember what we’re really voting for: a healthy and hopeful future for ourselves and our families. And to achieve this, we need real partners in government who will organize with us to create a society and communities in which every one of us can thrive. 

If we want a better future, we must build it with our votes.


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