Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16) unveiled the Emergency Price Stabilization Act, which will launch a whole-of-government effort to address America’s cost-of-living crisis.
“In my district and across the country, people simply cannot afford to live,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D (NY-16). “From impossible rents and utility bills to soaring costs for food, health care, and other necessities of life, people in America are being crushed by the burden of high prices and wages that can’t keep pace. While our government is taking several important steps in response, we must move with greater speed and agility to protect our constituents from price shocks and corporate profiteering. The Emergency Price Stabilization Act will do exactly that – first, by getting to the bottom of what is driving price increases in key sectors, and second, by designing targeted controls and regulations to rein in those prices. At every step of the way, we will mobilize and engage the public in the process. We cannot simply step back and allow the Federal Reserve, which hiked interest rates again last week, to address inflation on the backs of everyday people. That approach means throwing people out of work and risking a recession. Here is the question we must ask: do we have the resources and skills to reach our full productive capacity, make sure everyone in this country has a good job, and manage our economy in the interests of all people? I believe the answer is yes. But we’ll need a new economic playbook to get there, and passing my Emergency Price Stabilization Act would be a major step in the right direction.”
The Emergency Price Stabilization Act will expand the existing White House Supply Chains Disruption Task Force, creating a new Sub-Task Force that is empowered to:
Monitor and analyze price changes related to food, energy, housing, health care, transportation, and other goods and services that are vital to the country’s health and economic security;
Proactively investigate corporate profiteering in those areas, including price-gouging linked to supply chain disruptions, by using subpoena power to open up and examine corporate books;
Make recommendations to the President for appropriate, strategic controls and regulations to limit growth and reduce volatility in those key prices, which the President is temporarily authorized to implement;
Engage and mobilize the public as part of the process of monitoring and regulating prices, and harness the expertise of federal agencies, outside experts, unions, and community organizations; and
Propose complementary measures to ensure adequate supply of relevant goods and services, expand productive capacity, and meet climate and public health standards in the application of any price controls or regulations.
Click here to read statements in support of the Emergency Price Stabilization Act from a range of individual economists and experts, including James K. Galbraith, Robert Reich, Isabella Weber, and Mark Paul.
“Though Wall Street tycoons would have us believe otherwise, retail prices for essential goods like food and energy are not set by simple supply and demand. They are egregiously manipulated by corporate giants that have achieved monopoly-level dominance over their markets,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Setting reasonable maximum prices for everyday needs would reduce out-of-pocket costs to consumers while curbing excessive profiteering by opportunistic corporations. This common-sense legislation is needed more than ever.”
"Corporations are reaping record profits while working people's wages are falling behind inflation,” said AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director William Samuel. “This bill will ensure that we have every tool available to help working people cope with rising prices."
“Even before the pandemic, millions of America’s lowest-income and most marginalized households were struggling to keep roofs over their heads, always just one financial shock away from falling behind on rent and being threatened with eviction, and in the worst cases, homelessness,” stated Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Today, these same households are facing new threats with historic levels of inflation and skyrocketing rents. Just as some states have in place laws to prevent price or rent gouging after natural disasters, Congress should consider similar protections like those included in the Emergency Price Stabilization Act for renters coming out of a global pandemic.”
"The rent is too damn high, and it is past time for the federal government to regulate the private rental market by setting price controls," said Tara Raghuveer, Homes Guarantee Campaign Director, People's Action. "Rent inflation is a national emergency, both a crisis for millions of tenants who can't afford their home, and a threat to our economic security as rent drives core inflation. Corporate landlords are using inflation as an excuse to raise rents, and they are raising rents beyond inflation; they are rent gouging. Congress and the President must act immediately to regulate rents, to curb inflation and to correct the imbalance of power between tenants and their landlords. This bill is a critical step in the right direction."
“It’s time to take emergency pricing power out of the hands of corporate profiteers and put it in the hands of publicly accountable officials,” said Matt Kent, Competition Policy Advocate at Public Citizen. “The Emergency Price Stabilization Act gives the federal government the tools necessary to step in on behalf of consumers when prices soar due to C-suite profit seeking during successive global emergencies. Crucially, the bill provides a targeted policy path for combating inflation without hiking interest rates, putting people out of work and tilting the economy into recession. ”
“Rising costs are squeezing working people across the country, and politicians and policy makers keep insisting that the only way to stop it is to cut jobs and take money out of people's pockets by raising interest rates,” said Natalia Salgado, Working Families Party Director of Federal Affairs. "Rep. Bowman’s bill would give our government more and better options for fighting inflation by going directly at the prices set by firms with concentrated economic power. Working families need the government on our side and this is one important way to put it there."
Original co-sponsors of the legislation include: Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Mark Takano (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.)
Organizations endorsing include: AFL-CIO, SEIU, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, National Nurses United, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Food & Water Watch, Public Citizen, Indivisible, MoveOn, 1199 SEIU, Jobs with Justice, United for Respect, Community Change Action, Homes Guarantee Campaign, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Housing Law Project, Housing Justice for All, Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE), NY PIRG, New York Communities for Change, Working Families Party, Fight Corporate Monopolies, Center for Popular Democracy Action, People's Action, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth US, Sunrise Movement, Social Security Works, Campaign for NY Health, Unrig our Economy NYC, National Employment Law Project, Labor Network for Sustainability, Taproot Earth, Democracy Collaborative, Sane Energy Project, Climate and Community Project, and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
Click here to read a summary of the bill.
Click here to read the full text of the bill.