Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has shamed Republicans in Congress for fighting for proponents of the $2trn coronavirus response bill that she characterised as nothing more than a corporate giveaway that would exacerbate American income and wealth inequality going forward.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said during a floor speech before the House of Representatives voted on that bill that her home district has been devastated by the virus — and criticised the billions of dollars that Republican senators have demanded be given to American industries in the proposed stimulus package.
“I represent one of the hardest hit communities in the hardest hit city in this country, Queens, New York. Thirteen dead in a night,” she said. “Our community’s reality is this country’s future if we don’t do anything. Hospital workers do not have protective equipment. We don’t have the necessary ventilators.”
She continued, pivoting to the stimulus bill: “But we have to go into this vote eyes wide open. What did the Senate majority fight for? One of the largest corporate bailouts with as few strings as possible in American history. Shameful. The greed of that fight is wrong for crumbs for our families and the option that we have is to either let them suffer with nothing or to allow this greed and billions of dollars which will be leveraged into trillions of dollars to contribute to the largest income inequality gap in our future.”
“There should be shame about what was fought for in this bill and the choices that we have to make,” she said.
The Democrat-controlled House voted through the bill after the Senate — which is controlled by a Republican majority — approved the measure, which includes $500bn worth of loans that the Treasury Department will divvy up to struggling industries, including the airline industry and elsewhere.
Democrats have so far succeeded in ensuring that protections for ordinary workers were included in the bill, as well, including the distribution of $1,200 to Americans over the coming weeks.
Despite those inclusions, progressives have blasted the bill for its bailout of American industries including the airline industry, which has been criticised for pumping profits into stock buybacks that benefited shareholders but left them vulnerable to the kinds of economic shocks now being seen as a result of the global pandemic.