Senate stimulus package leaves Hoosiers hanging

Since the widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S., congressional leaders and the Trump administration have given trillions of taxpayer dollars to corporations and banks to “stimulate the economy” and “avoid seeing these companies close.” Last night the Senate passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package. It’s expected to pass in the House soon, although negotiations might take time. Based on the latest reports, the massive bailout for the 1 percent, among other things, guarantees:

  • $450 million to the Emergency Food Assistance Program
  • $500 billion in grants, loans, loan guarantees, and investments to passenger airlines, cargo air carriers, national security companies, the hotel and cruise industry, and others. Much of this is in the form of outright grants.
  • $350 billion in loans for small businesses
  • $2.2 billion to the Defense Department
  • $324 million to the State Department for unspecified “emergency evacuations”
  • $25 million to the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts

Meanwhile, the people are left with crumbs. The bill includes one-time payments of up to $1,200 to individuals or $2,400 to married couples, with an additional $500 for each child. These payments will barely cover Hoosiers’ needs, as the average cost of living per month in Indianapolis for individuals is $1,900 and $3,700 for a family of four. Those averages are for groceries, transportation, utilities, and rent/mortgage, and don’t include auto, credit card, or other monthly bill payments.

Stay-at-home orders have triggered major losses in the stock market and led state and federal officials to offer tax breaks and deals to businesses, but have made meager, if any, attempts to save workers from losing their homes and experiencing food insecurity. The freefall of the stock market, massive layoffs, and politicians siding with wealthy elites over the people exposes the fact that our economy is built on the backs of low-wage workers.

Companies across Indiana are laying off thousands of Hoosiers to save their own profits, and more will soon follow. At this time last year, 3,100 people filed for unemployment in the state. As of March 17, over 22,500 workers filed. Instead of guaranteeing jobs and wages after the public health crisis subsides, the state and business sector laying off workers, prioritizing profits over the people who make their companies run.

Indiana doesn’t require employers to offer paid sick leave, but in a pale attempt to ease workers’ worries, the federal government has compelled the state to guarantee some paid leave and increased unemployment payments, at least for the next four months. If the government can offer these benefits during a public health crisis, why can’t they be available year-round? As workers, we demand that the government bails out the people, not Wall Street!

If you agree, sign this petition to Governor Holcomb and Mayor Hogsett!