As Republicans try to blame Democrats for blocking the passage of a deeply flawed coronavirus response bill offering federal bailouts to big corporations — without ensuring that the money will be used to benefit their workers rather than merely their senior executives and shareholders and allowing the swamp dwellers of the Trump administration access to a half a billion-dollar slush fund with little accountability over how the funds will be spent — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a statement attacking the GOP plans as inadequate to address the concerns of ordinary Americans and outlining the principles that her party will fight to see included in their next version of the legislation.
“The Senate Republicans’ bill, as presented, put corporations first, not workers and families. Today, House Democrats will unveil a bill that takes responsibility for the health, wages and well-being of America’s workers: the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act,” Speaker Pelosi begins her press release.
Pelosi then provides a list of five areas that the Democratic Party vow to concentrate their efforts on in taking responsibility for solving the pandemic-inspired crisis.
“For our workers and small businesses: our bill requires that any corporation that takes taxpayer dollars must protect their workers’ wages and benefits – not CEO pay, stock buybacks or layoffs. It gives our small businesses fast relief with grants and loans to tide them through this crisis. And it strengthens Unemployment Insurance so that it can replace the average wages of our workers who are losing their jobs and hours.”
The primary and most important constituency of the Democratic push for economic protections in this turbulent time of sudden financial collapse is the legion of workers and small, family-owned businesses that risk failure and bankruptcy without federal aid.
The provisions Pelosi promises the Democratic proposal will include ensures that these people and local businesses will get priority in the legislation and that corporations won’t simply take federal dollars to pad the paychecks of their senior executives and up their share values at the expense of those workers who enable their businesses to exist at all.
“For our doctors, nurses, health care workers and first responders: It gives hospitals and other health institutions the desperately needed funds to provide treatment and care to all those who are sick and to ensure they have the Personal Protective Equipment to protect health care workers and first responders. It protects our health care workers by requiring the Administration to enforce our stronger Occupational Safety and Health Administration protections. At the same time, it calls for the president to invoke the Defense Production Act immediately.”
Ensuring that our healthcare system is reinforced and medical personnel are properly protected at a time when that system is threatened with being overwhelmed with an influx of new patients should be a no-brainer bi-partisan promise.
However, Donald Trump’s reluctance so far to invoke the Defense Production Act to mandate that U.S. manufacturers are producing the essential supplies necessary to see the country through this health emergency belies the president’s glee at naming himself a “wartime” president.
“For our families: It gives direct payments to America’s families in a robust way and strengthens Child Tax Credits and the Earned Income Tax Credit. It gives more workers the security of guaranteed paid family and medical leave, including those caring for our seniors. And it makes coronavirus treatment free for the patient.”
Speaker Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues want to ensure that Republican fantasies of trickle-down economics don’t become enshrined in the emergency legislation by guaranteeing that federal payments are made directly to the consumers whose requirements for money for basic necessities outweigh any need to restore the stock market losses suffered by wealthy investors who don’t live paycheck to paycheck like 78% of Americans do.
The purchasing power of the money given to suddenly unemployed workers will lift the economy back much more swiftly than any corporate bailouts. If the money that was given to financial institutions during the last Republican-induced economic meltdown in 2008 was instead used to pay off the mortgage obligations of individuals instead the nation would have seen a fraction of the housing foreclosures — a huge subsequent profit center for wealthy investors who snapped up the foreclosed homes at bargain prices — that it then experienced.
“For our students: Pumps nearly $40 billion into schools and universities, with $30 billion directly provided to states to help them stabilize their funding for schools and nearly $10 billion to help alleviate the harm caused by coronavirus on higher education institutions, while providing them with added flexibility to continue operating during the crisis. The legislation also helps current borrowers with their student debt burden and GI bill benefits. We also bolster SNAP and other initiatives to address food insecurity.
The Democratic coronavirus relief bill will address the damage that the extended shut down of schools and universities across the country has caused to both students and to educational institutions while helping to confront the student debt crisis and bolster efforts to fight hunger and nutritional deficiencies during the crisis.
It is the last of the areas addressed by Speaker Pelosi that in the end may be the most important in ensuring that the American way of life can eventually return to pre-coronavirus crisis normality.
“For our Democracy: Ensures that states can carry out this year’s election with billions in grant funding for states through the Election Assistance Commission and a national requirement for both 15 days of early voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail, including mailing a ballot to all registered voters in an emergency.”
The measures that Democrats have proposed to protect our November elections and ensure the ability of every qualified citizen to cast a ballot and chose leaders suitable for handling the next crisis that rolls our way — if passed along with the other measures being proposed — can be the most important transformative aspect of the Democratic bill, if the electorate learns the lessons from the Trump administrations handling of the crisis to date and the GOP attempts to use the crisis to further line the pockets of their corporate benefactors.
Ignore the political propaganda from the right complaining that the Democrats are obstructing Republican efforts to get the nation back on track.
The mission statement that Speaker Pelosi has outlined here proves that the Democrats are trying to craft a bill that will help the Americans who need assistance the most while preventing another looting of the treasury by greedy oligarchs like during the last financial crisis.
You can read the entire press release about the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act from the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi right here.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.