By a vote of 96-0, the United States Senate Wednesday night passed an enormous coronavirus stimulus package that would provide some desperately needed economic relief to struggling workers and the unemployed while establishing a $4.5 trillion fund to bail out large corporations—with little to no enforceable restrictions.
Progressives didn’t mince words in response to the unanimous vote, which sends the largest bailout legislation in U.S. history to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, where it could pass as early as Friday before heading to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
“At the moment when the American people are most in need, our coffers are being looted by the wealthy and well-connected.”
—Progressive Change Campaign Committee
“We oppose the Senate’s looting of America by big corporations,” the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) said in a statement. “Over and over, the American people are told there is ‘no money’—for student debt relief, for Medicare for All, for a Green New Deal, to create millions of jobs and save our planet. And now, at the moment when the American people are most in need, our coffers are being looted by the wealthy and well-connected.”
Embedded in the nearly 900 pages of legislative text—the product of negotiations between the leaders of both parties and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive—are provisions that would slash billions off the tax bills of retailers and restaurants, provide billions in loans to aerospace giant Boeing, and make large hotel owners eligible for small-business benefits.
But the largest—and, to progressives, most alarming—component of the Senate package is the $4.5 trillion bailout fund that the bill would place under the control of Trump’s Treasury Department with almost no meaningful oversight.
“COVID-19 emergency spending bill: $250 billion for direct payments to Americans, $250 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $4 trillion to bail out corporations,” tweeted Judd Legum, author of the Popular Information newsletter. “Seems like the balance is off a bit.”
While Democratic lawmakers touted restrictions on corporate bailout funds that they won in negotiations with the White House—such as a ban on stock buybacks and limits on executive compensation—the version of the bill that passed Wednesday includes language that analysts said would allow Mnuchin to simply waive those restrictions at his discretion.
“Jaw-dropping corruption,” Public Citizen said in response to that section of the legislation….