Sanders Calls for ‘Unprecedented Legislative Response’ to Coronavirus Crisis—Not Corporate Bailouts

Jerri-Lynn here. Where is Joe Biden on any of this?

Today is a momentous day in American politics. Congress is considering a multi-trillion dollar bailout plan, an attempt to calm free falling markets and shape the American economy for the foreseeable future. Alas, it looks like Congress is scrambling to implement a stimulus plan that can best be described as business as usual.

As Noam Chomsky pointed to on Matt Tabbi and Katie Halper’s Useful Idiots podcast, Useful Idiots: Noam Chomsky on the Primary, Media Criticism, and COVID-19: “There’s a concept of economy and efficiency. You should have just enough beds for what you need tomorrow. You shouldn’t prepare for the future. Right? So the hospital system’s crashing. Simple things like tests which you can easily get in a country South Korea, you can’t get here. So the coronavirus, which should be controlled in a functioning society, is going out of hand here. We’re just not ready for it. What we’re good at, what our leaders are good at, and have been very good at for the last 40 years, is pouring money into the pockets of the rich and the corporate executives while everything else crashes.” [Emphasis added.]

Will what happens today be any different? I hope so. I fear that as is so often the case, Chomsky is correct. Don’t touch that dial. Stay tuned to see what happens next.

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

Sen. Bernie Sanders is raising the alarm over the Senate economic stimulus bill being drawn up to combat the domestic effects of the global coronavirus pandemic, warning that the legislation is being unduly influenced by lobbyists and business interests—not the American people.

“Now is not the time to allow large corporations to take advantage of this horrific crisis by ripping off U.S. taxpayers and profiteering off of the pandemic,” the Vermont senator said in a statement Sunday.

The $1 trillion stimulus bill is being drafted in the Senate and the chamber’s leadership aims to vote on the legislation on Monday. Reportedly included in the bill are a number of provisions assisting industries affected by the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak—huge bailouts that Sanders said were too much to ask the American taxpayer for in a time of crisis.

According to Sanders:

Just in the last few days, we’ve seen numerous examples of lobbyists and their agents fighting for special favors: the airline industry is asking for $50 billion, the private space industry is asking for $5 billion, the hotel industry wants $150 billion, the National Association of Manufacturers wants $1.4 trillion, the International Council of Shopping Centers wants a guarantee of up to $1 trillion, Adidas wants to sneak in a long-sought provision allowing people to use pretax money to pay for gym memberships and fitness equipment—even when many gyms and retail stores are closed nationwide, and corporate pork producers are using the coronavirus to push Congress to expedite guest worker visas, even at a time when international travel and immigration is largely shut down.

Negotiations are continuing between Senate Democrats and Republicans and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. On an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Mnuchin said that a deal was close between the two sides and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I’ve been speaking to Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, the speaker, and I think we have fundamental understanding,” said Mnuchin. “We look foward to wrapping it up today.”

As Politico‘s Jake Sherman reported Sunday, there are still a number of outstanding issues to be resolved.

Democrats hope to add to unemployment benefits for workers and paid sick leave, while limiting corporate abuse of bailout money. The bill is expected to include cash payments for workers.

Sanders, in his statement Sunday, called for bold action to protect the American people.

“In this time of unprecedented crisis, we need an unprecedented legislative response that focuses on the emergency health care needs of the American people and that puts working families and the poor ahead of CEOs and huge corporations,” said Sanders.

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  1. KLG

    This could be the legislation that finally proves to my fellow members of the PMC that there is little effective difference between the alternative right wings of the one bird of prey lording over us from Washington DC…”corporations must keep workers ‘to the extent possible'” Indeed. If that is not seen as the invitation it is, there is no hope for these people.

    1. jsn

      To the extent people hear about this, they may notice the conspicuous lack of coverage in the MSM. Share widely, elevate the cognative dissonance!

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The PMC support little effective difference between the two parties. The PMC would prefer zero effective difference between the two parties except for virtue-signaling Wokeness symbols.

  2. Richard H Caldwell

    Sent to my congresscritters just now.

    In re: COVID-19 economic response, I urge you to:

    1.) Completely and adamantly obstruct, block, filibuster, and absolutely oppose the adoption of any measure that provides emergency federal grants or “loans” (aka “bail-outs”) to any corporate entity, in particularly public companies, defense contractors, airlines, oil & gas speculators, and all financial institutions. No repeat of 2008 — I do not want to see open revolt in my country, which I believe bailouts will provoke. I want you to help the real economy, not the financial casino economy.

    2.) Enact a federal emergency unemployment measure to 100% backstop state plans and provide full earning replacement for all citizens (to be mandated to and implemented by the states; see #6).

    3.) Enact a federal measure to provide grants to state and local governments to 100% replace shortfalls in budgeted revenue.

    4.) Enact a debt/lease/rent standstill that will suspend all payments and the accrual of interest and imposition of fees on all instruments that rent out assets, tangible or intangible, at all levels, from citizens through to bondholders and government entities.

    5.) Enact a measure making Medicare-for-all as proposed by Rep. Pramila Jayapal permanent federal law with immediate emergency implementation.

    6.) Enact a federal jobs guarantee to provide market-rate public employment to all who want it (at federal, state, and local levels).

    7.) Adopt Modern Money Theory (see Dr. Stephanie Kelton, Dr. Randall Wray) as the stipulated federal govt. understanding as to how fiscal programs are to be funded and as to the management of resources and inflation. End austerity thinking and the myth of “pay-go” and requiring balanced federal budgets.

    8.) Enact a measure to place the Federal Reserve and all Federal Reserve banks under the direction control of Congress and end private bank ownership of the regional banks.

    9.) Enact a measure to require the US Postal Service to provide insured depository banking services to all citizens.

    All of this for the entire duration of the emergency except for #5-9, which are permanent.

    1. notabanktoadie

      9.) Enact a measure to require the US Postal Service to provide insured depository banking services to all citizens. Richard H Caldwell

      Accounts at the Central Bank are inherently risk-free so why not allow all citizens (at least) to have those alongside those of depository institutions?

      In other words, let’s have equal protection under the law when it comes to the use of the Nation’s fiat in account form.

      As for local post offices, those could serve as convenient branch locations but the accounts themselves should be at the Central Bank.

    2. Edr

      Well, I think the revolts and demonstrations may be difficult because …….virus.

      The Hong Kong demonstrators seem to be sitting quietly at home.

  3. Bobby Gladd

    A staple phrase of legislative language is the regulatory discretionary authority statement “as the Secretary shall determine.” Obamacare had about 1,100 mentions, the Trump “Tax Reform” law 369.

    Count ’em up once we see a final bill.

    Mnuchin. Are we comforted?

  4. the suck of sorrow

    Were my library open I would try to borrow “Shock Doctrine”. Because we are facing the same old, same old which is socialism for the well-off and rugged individualism for the overwhelming rest of us.
    I have a twitter account but rarely use it. What I would like to start is a thread entreating the Democratic Party to invalidate the primary results so far. Clearly time will allow for people to make a more informed choice after the pandemic enters a first dormant phase.
    Senator Sanders is the only Presidential candidate makeing sense. We need him in the Oval Office.
    I’m racking my little pea brain trying to cough up a snappy hash tag to trend for a complete redo for the primaries. Pounding the pulpit for hand-counted paper ballots is also necessary.
    I am not ashamed to ask for constructive criticism nor some creative help.

    1. mistah charley, ph.d.

      see recent remarks by naomi klein

      In a new video for The Intercept, where she is a senior correspondent, Klein argues it’s vital for people to fight for the kind of transformative change that can not only curb the worst effects of the current crisis but also set society on a more just path.

      to see more look at the intercept, and democracy now, websites

  5. Katiebird

    I don’t see how families survive this. Very few Congresscritters seem to understand that people need regular income, even during a time of crisis like this.

    Also, would it be so awful for them to look ahead to some worse case planning? What happens if things get horrible and the grocery stores can’t open because all staff is too sick to come in. Or truck drivers stopped deliveries. How do people get fed? Is there a plan for this?

    1. Katiebird

      If something useful to people does not get passed, will we see the rise of a dangerous blackmarket trend? Where people who can provide services to people with money for cash?

      Everyday I hear Trump say that we have to pay people to stay home. Yet None of these proposals seem to do that.

    2. Jules

      governors from different states are already saying if will infect over half and up to three quarters of the population. However this does not mean supply chains are going to suddenly collapse. And the trucks are going to stop rolling. The goal is to slow the spread and reduce the burdens on the hospitals. over the next couple months as different parts of the country experience reduction in new cases, restrictions will be loosened. In those areas the population and hospitals will be constantly surveilled, and if there is a spike in new cases movement will again be limited briefly. It looks like in the U.s. and in particular the highly concentrated areas most people will be infected before a vaccine is ready. Again the goal is to slow the spread, and allow the hospitals to take care of the severe cases and not become extremely overburdened like Italy.

      As far as food and supply chains. The consensus seems to be that much of the of domestic “food” supply chain should not be disrupted. I can imagine military personnel stepping in to fill in for long haul truckers in the event it becomes necessary.

      However, I wonder about the non processed foods, such as vegetables and fruits. As most around here probably understand, our agricultural system relies heavily on migrant labor from Mexico. Well over 100,000 young men and women get temp visas to come into the u.s. and work the fields and go back to Mexico every single year. These folks often live in very tight quarters with limited rights, what happens when there are massive outbreak in this population group? I would hope they planning for this. im afraid to admit im expecting a complete mess. So perhaps expect some shortage for veg and fruits down the line? Perhaps the miserable heat and humidity these workers often work under will not be a hospitable environment and will experience a reduction in the transmission rates? Lots of unknowns.
      Just my two cents.

      1. JBird4049

        True. I would also point out that a reason for this are the extremely low wages. Some Americans would probably be fine with the work if they could make a decent living. Maybe not enough but it would be a start.

    3. fajensen

      How do people get fed? Is there a plan for this?

      The military should have done lots of disaster planning all the way back from the cold war. The question is if they have the logistics (supplies, trucks, distribution centres, legislation, people) readily available or it has all been contracted out to Halliburton & Co – and whether SLA’s and Contracts have replaced those “inefficient” physical storages and equipment!

      Personally, I think the military will soon provide hospital services, not only because they are going to be desparately needed, but also because it is very much more needed to Never have Medicare for All.

      If the military can really ride in and “fix the situation” then society does not have to change and everyone will be most happy!

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Just on Noam Chomsky’s point about having enough hospital beds, I think this is an issue with public as well as private systems. Its very hard to argue for surplus beds ‘just in case’, when there are numerous other good places to spend health money that would help people immediately. I would say that a key issue in hospital management has been the introduction of ‘lean, just in time’ systems (thanks MBA’s!), which may be more efficient and reduce waste, but have resulted in hospitals simply having no build up of essential stock.

    I would point out that the countries that responded best so far seem to have one thing in common – they have a paranoia about a nasty neighbour. South Korea and countries like Finland and Sweden have long had extensive preparations for attack by their larger or more obviously deranged neighbour and so have very detailed plans for calamitous emergencies. As David has been saying btl here before, most European countries has very extensive civil preparation systems during the Cold War, which where either allowed decay or deliberately dismantled.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Assuming that we come out of this with a government that functions in the public interest (a bit of an “ask”, I admit), one could imagine mandatory certification requirements for medical facilities that include the ability to rapidly reconfigure ordinary wards for acute and critical care (with mandatory reserve equipment for this purpose), new construction regulations that require ventilation systems to be configured to make all rooms negative pressure, etc, etc. It would greatly increase the cost of owning a hospital — perhaps so much so that the only feasible owners in future would be public authorities with access to sovereign money.

    2. jackiebass

      The problem with health care is it is now viewed as a pot of gold just waiting for someone to rob. Decisions are made based on profit rather than providing better quality. Any excess is viewed as waste and needs to be eliminated. Having businesses designed so they rely on a supply chain designed to deliver just on time needed supplies works great in normal times. In an emergency ir quickly can break down. A personal example may help. I have an emergency fund set aside for something unexpected like a car repair or a new appliance because the old one kicked the bucket. People can argue that this is wasteful.The money could be spent or invested to make more money. As long as there is no emergency , they are correct. The problem with this happens when the inevitable emergency happens. Then you are screwed.

    3. Otis B Driftwood

      What is troubling about this is what seems to be the absolute lack of any sort of planning for this sort of emergency. Did no one in authority think that a pandemic might happen and model how to ramp up hospital capacity, supplies and staff?

      Not that there was much to begin with, but it’s hard to have any faith at all in our institutions. Again, Trump is not the cause but the symptom of much larger problems.

      1. Jules

        There have been a number of mock exercises over recent years, where these scenarios are gamed out. Heck, there was one very recently during Trumps admin. They gamed out a worldwide pandemic with viruses such as the coronavirus. They predicted the kind of shortage with medical supplies and PPE the u.s is currently experiencing. Yet here we are.
        Then there was event 201 from the end of 2019. I believe it was john hopkins that gamed out the scenario of worldwide pandemic. This one has been making the rounds in conspiracy theory circles past couple months. I almost hesitate to even mention it. Im not interested in promulgating nonsense. I only mention it to point point the level of awareness to the threat was clear.

    4. JTMcPhee

      Current US hospital and long term care facility practice is to overload the system (nurses, doctors, techs, housekeeping) at the best of times, nurses with too many patients to safely care for, doctors working to metrics, other staff similarly abused. Nurses and staff are “sent home” if the “census” dips below MBA-defined numbers, and a lot of nurses, because they care and also because they would be fired if they did not just suck it up and do double or triple duty even though that puts them in jeopardy of making mistakes. More and more work from fewer and fewer workers for les and less pay and benefits with less and less job security under more and more human and machine overseers demanding compliance with dumber and dumber metrics. The model is a constant whether for-profit or the few mostly fake “non-profit” institutions.

      One large local hospital, hobbled by several serial sales and acquisitions, has had whole floors of rooms setting idle, and to meet insurance Corp demands they kick patients out before really safe.

      Ship, there is so much wrong that I recoil from thinking about it. On top of all the rest. Just too much.

  7. Eureka Springs

    I thought Sanders speech was very good, presidential, strong leader, succinct, issue specific with concrete material solutions. I really hope it’s edited into a single video and shared widely. It’s a shame it wasn’t broadcast on all TV out there.

    AOC was good. Omar was just awful. Id pol, rambling, repeating, more uh’s than Nixon. I couldn’t force myself to waste expensive and limited bandwidth for more than a few minutes. She should watch herself / her vids and learn very fast or be eliminated from these presentations. If ever there was a time to drop the id pol rambling breakdown of groups for – All of us, it is now.

    All three failed to inform of the problems in passing their solutions rested inside the D party as much if not more than anywhere else. This failure, there is no excuse for it. They did not lead in terms of unified suggestions of actions which would help. Not even a lil list, a link to congressional phone numbers and asking all these people stuck at home to call. Where’s DSA, Our Revolution, etc., on this kind of action… are they out looking for Biden too?

    Biden won the name repetition, meme war yesterday. It was insanely stupid to waste time on that where’s B? question… gave him more attention than he would have ever received had he been on every Sunday talk show. Beyond stupid, self defeating.

    AOC and Omar should have stuck closer to Sanders script, because it was all-inclusive and right now getting money directly to people immediately is most important, imo. I expect lots of hungry people to start committing desperate acts in the next 7 to 14 days. I know lots and lots of people who are entirely without work or safety net now. None of whom were effected this way in the ’08 crash.

    All that said we are screwed…. Sanders made it clear as day (compared to any other sitting politician out there), what the difference in government could and should be.

    1. divadab

      Well wtf IS Joe Biden? Getting his blood replaced? Where is his supposed leadership? What a complete flipping hack. Less than useless. Abysmal.

  8. Tom Stone

    Our leaders are insane, they are inviting Chaos.
    Not an organized resistance, even with a pandemic raging they think they can suppress anarchy with the Military and the Police forces.
    In the middle of a pandemic?
    Good luck with that.
    Here’s a data point, every major ammo distributor and every gun store in the country has been completely sold out of the common calibers for more than a week.
    When hundreds of frightened armed people show up at our hospitals demanding immediate treatment how will it be handled?

    1. David in Santa Cruz

      In other circumstances this comment might have been dismissed as paranoid, but I’ve been watching the sales of guns and ammunition with great interest. Can it be coincidental that the Alameda Co Sheriff’s first big shelter-in-place enforcement action in Oakland/Berkeley was at a guns-and-ammo emporium?

      I seriously doubt that there will be much in the way of gunpoint demands for medical treatment — hospitals are protected by armed police. I do however suspect that we’re going to start seeing shoot-outs between members of the unemployed-yet-armed-to-the-teeth citizenry over all those hoarded caches of food and toilet-paper

  9. Tom Doak

    We should all get out in the streets to protest this bailout.

    Oh, but we are required to shelter in place until after it’s passed. (the bailout not the virus)

    We are being held hostage by terrorists we elected.

  10. Samuel Conner

    One wonders if the Senate will finally lose its infatuation with the 3/5ths cloture rule.

    1. Off The Street

      That 3/5 is a double-edged sword, and prior generations have seen some wisdom in maintaining it. Not sure I’d trust anyone in DC pushing some 51/49 issue through the Senate, especially when the electors are kept in the dark about just what is happening, or not happening, and who is paying whom.

      The new cui bono and who, whom updated for our modernistic era.

  11. Kris Alman

    Colorado’s Multi-Agency Coordination Center appears to be the hub “for State, federal, and local agencies to come together in a central location to coordinate the response to emergencies and disasters.”

    I learned this after submitting a form to volunteer in my home state (which is not CO) and read the following: “The information shared on the platform may be subject to public disclosure under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) unless there is a state or federal regulation protecting the data.”

    Any thoughts on this?

    1. Kris Alman

      I see that Indiana has a hub too. No mention of Covid in this Jan. 20th article. It became a hub around a month before Pence became the Covid czar.

      The Gary Chicago International Airport will be home to Northwest Indiana’s first multi-agency coordination center, a project officials say has been more than five years in the making.

      The project, estimated to cost up to $10 million, is part of a public private partnership initiated by the Northwest Indiana Information Sharing & Security Alliance (NIISSA).

  12. Synoia

    With all this money being created (postulated) and distributed…where will it end up? In who’s investment portfolio?

    People who spend the money will not hold it long term…so who will the ultimate owner of the money be?

    We want this stimulus, but in addition should we be looking at wealth holders with large tax rates?

Comments are closed.