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CEI Experts Blast Attempts to Politicize COVID-19 Relief Bill

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WASHINGTON, DC – While the nation suffers, Washington has descended into an unseemly squabble over the latest COVID-19 relief bill. Politicians from all quarters are attempting to expand government power for their own benefit. Trying to add collective bargaining, renewable energy, or any other provisions that have nothing to do with addressing the health emergency or providing immediate support for the economy is failing the American people in the midst of a crisis. Granting small groups of government officials unreviewable discretion over who gets aid is counterproductive and bad policy. CEI experts offer frank evaluations of the various proposals. 

President Kent Lassman:

“The veil has dropped and the current public health crisis is demonstrating with crystal clarity to Americans who among the political leadership is serious. Pandemic level disease coupled with a massive freeze on economic activity are the conditions for steps that promote the distribution of useful public health knowledge, ease short-term economic dislocations, and enhance long-term resilience. We see very little of this in today’s legislative activity.”

Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews:

“The license to distribute public funds to individuals, businesses, or industries at the discretion of an individual or even a single government agency is an invitation to monumental error and abuse. Whether Secretary Mnuchin, his successors, or any new committee are granted ‘special powers', the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars in collateralized loans and loan forgiveness is a matter for laws that must be subject to the cleansing antiseptic of open, public, debate by officials accountable to the electorate. The administration wants the power to decide which businesses survive with an unprecedented financial intervention. That has induced opportunists to insist upon building in elements of the wish list presented in Congress today.” ​

Director of CEI’s Center for Energy & Environment Myron Ebell:

“The demands by House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer are an irresponsible attempt to use a real crisis to promote climate payoffs to special interests. At a time when the economy needs shoring up, they are proposing policies that will make it harder for the airline industry to recover and tax credits for green energy that will raise electric rates for consumers and make the grid less reliable.”

Head of Center for Economic Freedom Iain Murray:

“Using a public health emergency to try to cancel personnel management reforms in the federal government is the height of opportunism, but that is precisely what the Democrat leadership is doing. The President has changed rules that force the taxpayer to pay for union employees to do union business, but the draft House bill reverses that. This has nothing whatsoever to do with COVID-19. 

“The Democrats’ demands also require far-reaching and permanent changes to American corporate government, such as the requirement that any firm receiving aid permanently has a third of its board elected by employees, and massively burdensome reporting to government on such pettifogging details as what the company is doing ‘to foster a sense of purpose in the workplace.’ This is preposterous.” 

Senior Fellow Ryan Young:

“The Democrats’ demands require firms seeking federal aid to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour. Small businesses across the country are struggling to make payroll. An unexpected increase in payroll costs could put far more workers at risk of losing their job than under normal times. At the very least, workers would see cuts to their non-wage pay such as insurance, meals, parking, and other benefits. These tradeoffs would appear at precisely the worst time.​”

Senior Fellow Marc Scribner:

“The House Democrats’ proposals for the airline industry would condition emergency assistance upon effectively turning it into another government agency. From giveaways to unions to environmentalist pandering, Speaker Pelosi’s Faustian bargain demonstrates her unseriousness and rank opportunism. This toxic blueprint not only fails to address the immediate challenges of this crisis, it threatens the long-term viability of the industry she is pretending to help.

Senior Fellow John Berlau:

“The vague and open-ended SEC disclosure mandates are unrelated to good corporate governance and will divert company resources from innovating, hiring new workers, and paying back what they owe taxpayers. Companies and their shareholders should think twice about jumping into a government ‘life preserver’ with strings that could sink them.”

Research Fellow Patrick Hedger:

“The telecommunications provisions of the House Democrats’ COVID-19 bill can best be summarized as pure waste. Billions of dollars would be allocated for providing laptops and other smart devices to people who may or may not need them with little specific eligibility criteria, opening the door for rampant abuse. The broadband programs subsidize Internet services that are several times more than what most Americans need. Finally, the bill imposes strict controls on Internet Service Providers that are entirely superfluous in light of the voluntary commitments from hundreds of companies secured by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai through his Keep America Connected Pledge.”