Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

"Giving polluters a free pass when their negligence kills should be a non-starter," said Friends of the Earth's Lukas Ross. (Photo: Andrew Hart/flickr/cc)

As McConnell Tees Up Next Aid Package With Corporate Liability as 'Red Line,' Polluters Pushing to Secure Shield Against Covid-19 Lawsuits

"Corporate liability waivers are just the next phase of a Trump polluter bailout."

Andrea Germanos

New lobby filings reveal that polluting industries have been working hard to secure legal protection from lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus pandemic—a shield from consequence that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly sees as a "red line" in including in the next Covid-19 aid package.

Environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth (FOE) drew attention to the lobbying reports released this week from the Plastic Industry Association, dark money group FreedomWorks, and companies including fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil and agri-giant Smithfield Foods—whose Sioux Falls, South Dakota processing plant became a coronavirus hotspot.

"Corporate liability waivers are just the next phase of a Trump polluter bailout," FOE program manager Lukas Ross said in a statement Thursday.

The fresh scrutiny comes as roughly 25 million Americans are looking at the end of a crucial lifeline and possible economic "catastrophe" because the $600-per-week increase in unemployment benefits secured under the CARES Act is set to expire this week. Republicans are looking to slash the weekly amount, likely to $200 per week, the Associated Press reported, and McConnell (R-Ky.) appears in little rush to pass the next coronavirus relief legislation.

As millions of workers spent the last three months in economic uncertainty, the new filings show how industries were working to shield themselves from blame should workers file coronavirus-related lawsuits. 

According to FOE, other polluting corporations and dark money groups that lobbied for such liability protection include ConocoPhillips, the American Petroleum Institute, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the Chamber of Commerce, and utilities including Exelon.

The companies' aggressive push hasn't been for nothing, it appears, as Republicans look to make liability waivers a "centerpiece" of their legislative package.

Politico reported Thursday:

McConnell is drawing a red line with liability protection. Businesses, schools, and other organizations would receive protection from lawsuits arising from exposure to coronavirus due to reopening. Lawsuits would be moved to federal courts, and plaintiffs would have to show "gross negligence" by employers in order to win.

Ross accused Republicans of "trying to hold critical relief like unemployment benefits hostage in order to shield their corporate cronies from the law," and said that "[g]iving polluters a free pass when their negligence kills should be a non-starter."

Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of food and agriculture at FOE, pointed out that workers at meat plants owned by companies like Smithfield have been on the front-lines of the public health crisis. "Already more than 35,000 meatpacking workers have been infected and 168 have died due to Covid," she said. 

"Liability waivers will embolden meat companies to further disregard the safety of their workers, the majority of whom are black and Latinx," said Hamerschlag.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·


'Texans Deserved Better Than This': Supreme Court Leaves Abortion Ban in Place

The nation's high court set a date to hear a pair of legal challenges to the "horrific" restrictions.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Like It Never Happened': Federal Judge Tosses Trump Attack on Clean Water Rule

Denying a Biden administration request to temporarily retain the rule, the judge reestablished "the careful balance of state and federal power to protect clean water that Congress intended when it wrote the Clean Water Act."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo