Virginia’s U.S. Senator Mark Warner held a lengthy telephone briefing with members of the Virginia press today, stressing his resolve to make sure that federal relief measures in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and the “social distancing” measures being taken in the effort to mitigate its effects will be directed as working people first, and not just corporations or banks.
He said he is prepared to submit a “disaster level unemployment relief” bill aimed at getting to all working persons hit by this crisis, and not just the 26 percent of the workforce that qualifies for normal unemployment benefits. This would include self-employed, temporary and hourly piece workers who would have access to cash through a self-certification process. He is also pushing for forbearance policies to prevent landlords, mortgage companies, student loan debt holders and any businesses from ordering the evictions of any person or business hit by the health care, economic distress or added family responsibilities during the crisis.
Warner said he was angered by the actions of some large banks last week to deploy their balance sheets to buy back stock shares of their own rather than having them available for short term financing to the public. “We are in a period when millions of businesses will be asking for aid,” he said with business off as much as 90 percent with many.
But he said that as the full weight of mitigation policies kick in, including better public education and response, tests finally getting out to the public, legislative packages moving to provide relief and wider “macro economic tools” such as cash outlays to all persons across the board, “using the analogy of a baseball game, we have advanced to maybe the third or fourth inning of this game, though with still a long way to go.”
“My touchstones will be these three things,” he said, “to get assistance needed to workers, to be able to look back when this is over to see that 90 percent or higher of the workforce will be retained and to insure that there is no misuse of aid by corporations or any others to ‘feather their own nests’ at the expense of the people who need help the most.”