WASHINGTON, D.C. — American consumers are seeing relief as the U.S. Labor Department’s latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report shows a slowdown in rising prices, with the year-on-year increase in core prices having risen at the smallest rate “since September 2021”. Even shelter costs, which have been a major driver of inflation in recent months, slowed significantly in October at half the rate as the month before. The slowdown comes amid Biden administration actions to improve fairness in the rental market, including a Renters Bill of Rights and a crackdown on abusive junk fees in rental housing to lower costs for renters across the country.
Despite easing costs, housing remains unaffordable for many Americans, artificially so in many cases. Last week, government watchdog Accountable.US sent letters to nine state attorneys general encouraging their offices to look into whether major rental companies recently sued for illegal rent-pricing fixing in Washington D.C. may also be engaging in the same behavior in their states where the companies also run thousands of rental properties. The lawsuit brought by the District of Columbia Attorney General Brian Schwalb accuses 14 rental companies of wrongdoing including AvalonBay, Equity Residential,Mid-America Apartments, and Camden Property Trust. In the letter, Accountable.US raises concern that these companies’ alleged price-fixing practices may extend beyond the D.C. border after previously documenting their histories of profiteering or misconduct at the expense of struggling renters.
This inflation report is welcome news, but it’s clear that too many corporations remain consumed with greed and are price gouging consumers, especially in the housing sector. Profiteering corporate landlords continue to jack up rent and fees on everyday families despite reporting often-record profits and billions of dollars in extra handouts to wealthy investors. Some have even stooped to alleged illegal rent-fixing. While congressional Republicans in the pocket of corporate CEOs and lobbyists insist on giving corporations even more tax breaks that never trickle-down to anyone else, the Biden administration is putting consumers before corporations. The administration’s efforts are focused where it matters: lowering costs for Americans by cracking down on greedy corporate practices like junk fees in rental housing.”
“Without accountability, corporations will never stop trying to bend or break the rules to pad their profits, and American consumers will keep paying the price,” added Carrk. “By working to end junk fees and price gouging, the Biden administration is holding corporations accountable and putting money back in the pockets of everyday people, which in turn helps grow the middle class.”
Tony Carrk, Executive Director of Accountable.US.
The latest CPI report follows a damning new report from Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) that found that while inflation rose by 14 percent from July 2020 through July 2022, corporate profits rose by 75 percent over the same period — five times faster than inflation. The report underscores how corporations have grossly profiteered and price-gouged consumers throughout the pandemic even after the 2017 Trump Republican tax bill rewarded them with a giant tax giveaway – lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent while adding nearly $2 trillion to the national debt and shortchanging critical priorities that help grow the middle class. Sen. Casey’s report is consistent with findings from government watchdog Accountable.US which has for over two years documented corporate greed at the expense of everyday families across numerous industries, including pharmaceutical companies, corporate landlords, big food, big oil, and utility giants.