March 18, 2020

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is calling for a much bigger stimulus package than first proposed that offers health-care guarantees and puts money into the economy at the grassroots level -- you know, all those things Republicans refused to allow in 2008?

Warren's plan addresses everything from COVID-19 testing to student loan holders to workers and businesses. She includes employers in her plan, too: low-interest or interest-free loans to help businesses through the crisis as many consumers stay home. Companies would be required to keep workers on the payroll.

More importantly, she's lobbying her colleagues to avoid the damaging corporate excesses we saw the last time. On Twitter last night, she spelled out her ideas:

"We’re not writing blank checks to giant corporations," she wrote. "Any taxpayer dollars that go to help big businesses during the coronavirus crisis should come with the following minimum requirements:

1. Companies must maintain their payrolls and use funds to keep people working or on payroll.

2. Companies must provide a $15 minimum wage within one year of the national emergency declaration ending.

3. Companies are permanently prohibited from engaging in share repurchases.

4. Companies are prohibited from paying out dividends or executive bonuses while they are receiving any relief and for three years thereafter.

5. Companies must set aside at least one seat – but potentially two or more, as the amount of relief increases – on the board of directors for representatives elected by workers.

6. Collective bargaining agreements should remain in place and should not be reopened or renegotiated pursuant to this relief program.

7. Corporations must obtain shareholder and board approval for all political expenditures.

8. CEOs must be required to personally certify a company is in compliance and face criminal penalties for false certifications.

And finally, she says, "Congress must set up an oversight body, modeled on the Congressional Oversight Panel and the SIGTARP program for the bank bailout, but with real funding & subpoena power. We need real accountability to make sure these conditions are met."

Some people leave groceries on a neighbor's doorstep. And other people see big things are broken, and figure out how to fix them in a thoughtful way. God bless Sen. Warren, who heads the latter category.

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