It was a day of firsts. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre gave her first briefing as President Joe Biden’s top spokeswoman and had her first dust-up with one of her interlocutors.

Jean-Pierre appeared to get caught flat-footed by a question about how raising corporate taxes would combat inflation, asked in response to a Biden tweet.


“Look, we have talked about, um, we have talked about this past year, about making sure that the wealthiest among us are paying their fair share, and that is important to do,” Jean-Pierre said. “That is something the president has been working on every day when we talk about inflation and lowering costs, so it’s very important that as we’re seeing costs rise, as we’re talking about how to, you know, build an America that’s equal for everyone and doesn’t leave anyone behind, that is an important part of that as well.”

The initial question was raised by Fox News’s Peter Doocy, a frequent sparring partner of former White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “The president’s Twitter account posted the other day, 'If you want to bring down inflation, let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share,” he asked, after congratulating Jean-Pierre on her promotion. “How does raising taxes on corporations reduce inflation?”

“Um, so, are you talking about a specific tweet?” Jean-Pierre asked in response. She then defended higher corporate taxes as a Biden economic pledge.

“But how does raising taxes on corporations lower the cost of gas, the cost of a used car, the cost of food for everyday Americans?” Doocy followed up.

“So I think we encourage those who have done very well, especially those who care about climate change, to support a fairer tax code that doesn’t charge manufacturers, workers, cops, builders a higher percentage of their earnings, that the most fortunate people in our nation, and not let that stand in the way of reducing energy costs and fighting an existential problem, if you think about it, that is an example,” Jean-Pierre shot back. “To support basic collective bargaining rights as well.”

The White House has been under pressure to deal with inflation, which recently hit a 40-year high, during a tough election year for Democrats. Biden has frequently fallen back on his preexisting agenda being the solution to cutting costs, even as experts have argued that his spending plans have made the problem worse.


Jean-Pierre was prepared for a question about Amazon chairman Jeff Bezos’s criticism of Biden on taxes and inflation.

“Look, it’s not a huge mystery why one of the wealthiest individuals on earth, right, opposes an economic agenda that is for the middle class, that cuts some of the biggest costs families face, fights inflation for the long haul, right, and that’s what we’re talking about, that’s why we’re talking about lowering inflation here, and adds to the historic deficit reduction the president is achieving by asking the richest taxpayers and corporations to pay their fair share,” Jean-Pierre said. “That’s what we’re talking about.”