For Immediate Release
Don’t Double Down on Failure: Vote NO on the Heroes Act
WASHINGTON - The American Economic Liberties Project released the following statement after House Democrats unveiled legislative text for the Heroes Act, the latest legislation to respond to the coronavirus crisis:
"This bill delivers charity in place of justice, and Congress should vote it down,” said Economic Liberties’ Executive Director Sarah Miller. “Without addressing corporate power, additional aid to the people will ultimately end up in the hands of banks, monopolies, and landlords. While the need for humanitarian assistance is urgent, fundamentally this bill is not a serious attempt to grapple with power. It includes important programs, such as aid to states and localities, unemployment insurance, nutrition assistance, and hazard pay, but doesn’t address the roll-up of power happening throughout the economy that results in systemic exploitation of workers, consumers, small businesses, taxpayers, and communities.”
“The bill has no prohibition on corporate mergers. It bails out corporate lobbyists and corrupt mortgage servicers. It funnels money to monopolistic insurance company executives. And it has no constraints on private equity firms currently using public money from the Federal Reserve to cherry pick corporate assets on the cheap. Even some of the positive aspects, like a provision authorizing crackdowns on price gouging, are poorly conceived, for example allowing the corporate lobbyist-dominated Federal Trade Commission to block state officials from acting.
“We opposed the first CARES Act because it encouraged, rather than put the brakes on, the consolidation of corporate power. That bill was structured to support massive aid to the stock market, and a trickle of aid to the rest of us. Progressives should demand this bill address the injustices deriving from this consolidation of power in addition to humanitarian needs.
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"Our economy is being restructured whether we like it or not, so we need structural solutions to our current predicament. At the very least, the House should pass a merger moratorium, which is supported by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of Americans. And we encourage the House to pick up Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Senator Josh Hawley’s idea to have the government directly support payrolls,” added Miller.
Problematic provisions in the bill include:
- A Corporate Lobbyist Bailout: The bill makes Paycheck Protection Program funds available to 501(c)6 trade associations, which is the institutional vehicle for corporate lobbying.
- A Dark Money Group Bailout: The bill extends Paycheck Protection Program funds available to 501(c)4 trade associations, which is the institutional vehicle for dark money political spending.
- No Merger Prohibition: This bill has no mechanism to block or slow pandemic-related corporate mergers. Already, Amazon is rumored to buy AMC theaters, and Uber is in talks to buy Grubhub.
- Tax Cut for the Wealthy: This bill includes a repeal of the State and Local Tax Deduction, which primarily benefits the wealthy.
- Bailout of Mortgage Servicers: This bill extends Federal aid to mortgage servicers, who were the thinly capitalized entities at fault for the foreclosure crisis. These servicers have fought attempts at reform of their industry to make their business safer and are now demanding a no-strings-attached bailout.
- Subsidies for Health Insurance Monopolies: Rather than extending Medicare or Medicaid to the unemployed, this bill would fund COBRA, subsidizing health insurance monopolies and offering nothing to millions of Americans whose jobs never offered health insurance to begin with.
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Economic Liberties works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. AELP believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.