A Pandemic is Not an Excuse to Suspend Progress in Society

Opinion by Derek Wallentinsen (part 3 of a series)

This series was created to highlight examples of threats to progress being made in the name of the virus crisis. Part 1 (Blue Review, April 14) covered the Department of Justice seeking to indefinitely detain people without trial. Part 2 (Blue Review, April 21) focused on the suspension of environmental protection rules by the EPA. This last entry follows the money – specifically, corporate bailouts vastly larger than ever before seen:

The Senate, then the House, recently passed the largest corporate bailout in US history. President Trump quickly signed it into law. While providing desperately needed economic relief to struggling workers and the unemployed, it also established a legal basis for a $4.5 trillion fund to bail out large corporations — with little to no restriction. “We oppose the Senate’s looting of America by big corporations,” the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) said in a statement. “Over and over, the American people are told there is ‘no money’ — for student debt relief, for Medicare for All, for a Green New Deal, to create millions of jobs and save our planet. And now, at the moment when the American people are most in need, our coffers are being looted by the wealthy and well-connected.”

The new law would establish a $4.5 trillion corporate bailout fund overseen by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, with few substantive constraints. Congress and the president opted to help the little guy, but also are bailing out big corporations and the rich with minimal oversight. With little delay, Trump announced that he plans to refuse congressional oversight of the bailout – a move that stirred outrage among Democrats (“Unacceptable’: Dems Fume After Trump Announces Plan to Refuse Congressional Oversight of Corporate Bailout Funds,” Andrea Germanos, March 28, 2020, Common Dreams).

We Democrats believe in strong oversight and regulations of banks and financial institutions, as set out in our platform. This is not something we can let sneak past us in this crisis.
Even war powers invoked by the administration because of the virus crisis don’t excuse removing constitutional safeguards, protecting Big Business over the environment or further increasing wealth inequality. A crisis is for cool heads and decisions that don’t hurt the future welfare of New Mexicans, Americans, and people worldwide.

Derek Wallentinsen is a naturalist writer-photographer and a longtime New Mexico resident. His pictures and writings have appeared in such places as Planetary Astronomy Magazine, Sky and Telescope, Southern Sierran and in the last 20 years at numerous locations on the World Wide Web.