Tell Congress: COVID-19 Relief Should Be a #JustRecovery!

Congress is doing what it said couldn't be done: Passing a $10-trillion Green-New-Deal-scale economic stimulus, the biggest in American history.

The only trouble is, so far, this massive stimulus package is anything but green. 

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: COVID-19 relief should be a #JustRecovery!

farmer holding a wooden box filled with freshly harvested vegetables and produce

Fossil fuel companies and polluting agribusinesses are lining up to demand the largest share of relief money.

It’s not too late for Congress to stop corporations from siphoning relief money to the top 1 percent of income earners—and instead make sure aid gets to those who need it most. 

Congress should restrict the use of relief money for efforts that directly address the coronavirus pandemic, provide for human needs and prepare for future crises, including those related to climate change. 

If relief goes to the rich, it should come with a wealth tax to return it to those who need it most.

What would a Just Recovery look like?

1. It would make health the top priority, for all people, with no exceptions.

People are dying from COVID-19 because they don’t have health insurance. Healthcare workers are dying because they don’t have access to personal protective equipment. 

Coronavirus is starting to hit hard in rural America where a fourth of farmers and farmworkers lack health insurance. More than 100 rural hospitals closed last year, leaving rural healthcare providers unprepared. Rural hospitals must get their fair share of the $100 billion in coronavirus relief funds earmarked for hospitals. This is needed to prevent more rural hospitals from closing and to reopen shuttered rural hospitals as a safety valve for urban hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.

2. It would provide economic relief directly to the people.

The economic fallout from shutting down the economy to deal with the coronavirus has inspired calls, from both sides of the aisle, for a universal basic income, at least for the duration of the crisis. Instead, Congress opted for increasing unemployment benefits and making a one-time cash payment.

3. Rescue workers and communities, not corporate executives.

So far, the biggest chunks of money in Congress’s COVID-19 relief bills have gone to corporations not people. Small businesses will be required to keep their workers on payroll to get relief, but big corporations won’t.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides more relief with fewer restrictions to large corporations than to small businesses. Large corporations are getting $500 billion, which will be stretched to $4 trillion through the magic of banking. Stock buybacks and executive compensation would have some limitations but for the most part, corporations can spend this money as they wish. Small businesses are getting $377 billion in Small Business Administration loans for a prescribed set of expenditures necessary to stay afloat. Up to eight weeks of money borrowed to pay employees, a mortgage, rent or utilities can be forgiven.

Food stamps and child nutrition ($25 billion) and farmers ($24 billion) weren’t left out. But much more needs to be done to prevent hunger and interruptions in the food supply.

4. Make a down payment on a regenerative economy, while preventing future crises.

It’s not too late for Congress to put guardrails on the massive infusions of cash it’s pouring into the economy. That’s why we’ve joined in calling for stimulus money to be directed toward:

• Creating millions of good, family-sustaining jobs with strong labor standards

• Countering systemic inequities by directing investments to the working families, communities of color and Indigenous communities who face the most economic insecurity

• Tackling the climate crisis that’s compounding threats to our economy and health 

All three goals can be achieved simultaneously through public investments to rebuild infrastructure, replace lead pipes, expand wind and solar power, build clean and affordable public transit, weatherize our buildings, build and repair public housing, manufacture more clean energy goods, restore wetlands and forests, expand public services that support climate resilience, and support regenerative agriculture led by family farmers.

5. Protect our democratic process while protecting each other.

Election experts say vote-by-mail is the single most effective way to salvage the November election. Currently, only five states hold all their elections entirely by mail: Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Hawaii. Another 28 states and the District of Columbia offer "no-excuse" voting by mail. The remaining states require voters to provide a legitimate reason for why they can't show up to the polls.

Mailing ballots to all registered voters is our best chance of pulling off the first pandemic-plagued presidential election in American history. Congress included $400 million to safeguard elections in the coronavirus stimulus package, but that’s far less than what states will need to implement voting by mail.

It’s not too late for Congress to get it right, by directing relief funds to those who need it most.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: COVID-19 relief should be a #JustRecovery!

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