House Democrats’ HEROES Act Is a Huge Giveaway to the Rich

On Friday, House Democrats passed the HEROES Act, a bill meant to outline Democrats’ core principles in their negotiations with Senate Republicans about additional stimulus measures to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

The legislation has some good items. It would help ensure that all voters can vote absentee this fall, an absolute necessity given that COVID-19 isn’t going away. The bill includes another round of $1,200 stimulus payments to individuals, which is less than progressive lawmakers wanted, but at least it’s money that normal people get. Undocumented immigrants would get checks this time. It has funding for hazard pay for essential workers.

But if this indeed is a message bill rather than a final proposal, then the newsiest part of the legislation is Democrats’ desire to send a reassuring message to monied interests — one that deliberately lets corporations and billionaires know that the party is intent on fortifying the industry groups that already control Washington.

Since the pandemic started, 27 million Americans have lost their employer-based health insurance. Instead of covering the uninsured through Medicare or Medicaid, Democrats decided it would be better to pay COBRA premiums through January for people who have lost their health insurance. COBRA is expensive and wouldn’t help Americans who were already uninsured — but the move would deliver more revenue to the health care industry that wants the governmentto pay top-dollar to keep people on the insurance plans they just lost.

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