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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) took to the Senate floor as he voted no on Senate Republicans’ coronavirus package, which bails out corporations without the necessary worker protections. Brown continues championing working Ohioans in Senate negotiations on a coronavirus stimulus package. Brown has said from the beginning that any package must help workers, not Wall Street, unlike previous stimulus packages that only benefitted top executives and corporate boards.
“We have bailouts and handouts for corporations – but workers are told to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, to take personal responsibility. The American people will not stand for it. Not again. Especially not this time. We should be coming together to fight a pandemic, and to support workers who are getting hurt,” said Brown.
Last week, Brown published a list of pro-worker demands amid the coronavirus pandemic and calls for taxpayer money to be used to help curb economic hardship. Brown’s requirements are simple: No corporate bailouts without putting workers first. Brown says if taxpayer money is going to be used to help assist corporations during this economic uncertainty, it needs to go to the people who make this country work.
Read Brown’s full list of requirements HERE.
Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, can be found below:
The American people are watching – they are scared, and angry, and they want to see their leaders come together to help them.
They want us to act fast – but they also want us to get this right. It doesn’t matter how quickly you pass something if it doesn’t actually help the people it’s supposed to.
We worked throughout the weekend, around the clock to write language for a bill that would put workers first, that would help people stay in their homes, and that would give aid to small businesses.
I was in touch with Senator Crapo and with my colleagues of both parties.
But then Leader McConnell released his bill yesterday, and what we saw was NOT a bipartisan, consensus bill that gets help to the people who need it.
The American people are smart – they can tell the difference between a real economic relief package that helps American workers, and an unaccountable corporate bailout.
The people we serve remember 2008, when taxpayers spent billions of dollars bailing out big banks.
We were told we had to do it, to save our economy from complete collapse. We were told that if we saved the banks, people would be able to keep their jobs and their homes.
As we all know, that’s not what happened.
Congress gave Wall Street a blank check with taxpayer money, and millions of people still lost their jobs and lost their homes – there were more than 10 million foreclosures.
In the middle of a crisis, rushing to save the economy, Congress and President Bush crafted a bailout that did nothing to hold corporations accountable – nothing to make sure that the aid actually ended up in the pockets of workers.
Nothing to make sure that the whole country would recover together.
And we’ve seen the results.
Wall Street more than recovered. Corporate profits soared. Executive compensation exploded.
But wages have remained flat. Workers eventually got new jobs – but they paid less, they had less job security, fewer benefits, and less power in their workplaces.
We saw a similar story after 9/11.
The country was in crisis. We needed to help save large sectors of the economy from collapse. Congress stepped in to help – but that help never made it down from the C-suite to regular workers.
Over and over, it’s the same story.
In a crisis, people in this town move heaven and earth to help Wall Street, to help corporate CEOs.
Workers are always an afterthought.
We have bailouts and handouts for corporations – but workers are told to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, to take personal responsibility.
The American people will not stand for it.
Especially not this time.
We should be coming together to fight a pandemic, and to support workers who are getting hurt.
And we should not be giving a dime to corporations without making sure that aid goes to the people who make this country work.
That means holding corporations accountable.
Yes, sometimes it is important to our economy to help out industries that are hit by crises—and this time is one of them—but it’s critical that money ends up in the pockets of workers.
And we know from experience that corporations can’t be trusted to do that on their own.
It’s why we need strict strings attached to any taxpayer money.
Leader McConnell’s plan does the opposite.
It funnels hundreds of billions of dollars to big corporations without any accountability.
It does nothing to help people who are struggling to pay the rent or pay their mortgages.
It does nothing to make sure companies use taxpayer dollars to keep workers on the job.
It doesn’t give taxpayers a stake in the companies they’re being asked to bail out.
It does nothing to prevent CEOs from getting a payout while laying off workers.
Think about this:
The only rule Leader McConnell has put in this plan is to tell some companies taking bailout money, you can’t pay your CEOs more than they made in 2019.
In 2019 corporations were making record profits.
So these corporations will be free to pay CEOs like they’re still making record profits, while slashing workers’ wages.
Even worse, CEOs will be able to make stock buybacks to pump up their shares.
The President said he supports banning stock buybacks, but this bill has a toothless prohibition that isn’t even a speed bump in deterring most CEOs.
In fact, not only does the McConnell plan not ask corporate CEOs to share any of the pain, it actually gives corporations special rollbacks on regulations.
For companies looking for any excuse to get out of protecting consumers, they’re not going to let any crisis go to waste.
There’s also a $100 billion slush fund that they’ve already let slip the Administration could pay to Goldman Sachs.
They say it’s for “administrative expenses.”
I think restaurant servers who have been laid off, and small businesses owners who have had to close their doors, and nurses who are forced to reuse masks, can think of a better use for $100 million.
Instead we need a plan that puts workers first.
That means no corporate bailouts without investing in the Dignity of Work.
That means if you’re taking taxpayer money:
- No stock buybacks
- No sending jobs overseas
- No outsourcing your jobs to independent contractors
- No golden parachutes for executives
- No using taxpayer dollars to bust unions
- No wage cuts
- No healthcare or pension cuts
And it means actually helping people stay in their homes.
A pandemic is not the time to be throwing people on the streets. It’s pretty hard to shelter in place if you’ve got no place to go.
That means moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
It means forbearance for homeowners who are struggling – allowing people to delay mortgage payments. And that shouldn’t depend on what type of loan they have – every family should have the same opportunity for relief.
And it means emergency help for renters who are dealing with lost wages and lost jobs, and help for homelessness and housing providers who need help protecting people and protecting public health.
Americans are scared right now, and they’re angry.
They’re angry the president had chance after chance to get ahead of this crisis, and he failed.
We have to show the leadership the president has failed to demonstrate.
We have to show the people we serve that we have learned from Congress’s past mistakes.
We have to come together to put money in people’s pockets. We need to help people stay in their homes. We need to invest in the health care workers who are on the front lines of this crisis. We need to mobilize American manufacturers.
We know we can get through this, together. Let’s put partisanship aside. Let’s come together for the people we serve.