It’s Time to Bail Out People, Not Corporations

April 24, 2020

Illustration of people relying on a dollar bill to walk over a break in the ground

It’s no secret that America — and the world — is struggling right now. We’re worrying, we’re grieving, and many of us are still very, very sick. Our economy is also feeling the effects of COVID-19, with unemployment claims surging to 22 million last week, and an estimated unemployment rate of 17% this month — the highest it’s been since the Great Depression.

Last week, many Americans started to receive stimulus checks as part of a $2.2 trillion coronavirus response bill known as the CARES Act (“CARES” stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security). Every little bit helps, but let’s be honest: for many people, that check was cold comfort — an effort to perk up the economy and the corporations that run it, not a true effort to help everyday Americans who are struggling to put food on the table.

But guess who did benefit from the CARES Act? Big corporations — like United Airlines — that nabbed $500 billion of the relief bill, as well as some millionaires who will enjoy tax cuts of up to $1.5 million. In contrast, individuals received $560 billion, and small businesses got just $377 billion — and that money was used up within a week.

It’s pretty bad out there. And it’s probably going to get worse, especially for people who are already vulnerable. So that’s why Ben & Jerry’s joined forces with nearly 100 members of Congress and more than 1,000 progressive groups to call for an immediate People's Bailout to prioritize public health and economic relief for workers and families, not corporations — and we’re calling for it NOW. Here’s why we want you to join us.

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What Is the People’s Bailout?

The People’s Bailout is a relief and recovery package by the people and for the people. It all started with a letter from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) urging fellow members of Congress to take particular care of people who were already struggling before a global pandemic took hold. That plea to remember — and help — our most vulnerable people turned into a rallying cry amplified by advocacy groups including the Center for Popular Democracy, Greenpeace, MoveOn, Sierra Club, the U.S. Climate Action Network, and the Working Families Party ... and the #PeoplesBailout movement was formed.

The People’s Bailout is founded on five core principles:

  1. Health is the top priority, for all people, with no exceptions.
  2. Provide economic relief directly to the people.
  3. Rescue workers and communities, not corporate executives.
  4. Make a down payment on a regenerative economy, while preventing future crises.
  5. Protect our democratic process while protecting each other.

We believe that the needs of those hardest hit by this crisis should be at the center of the response. And we believe that a People’s Bailout will achieve that. Here’s what it’s all about:


Put Health First

While it’s true that coronavirus doesn’t discriminate, it’s also true that Black and brown people are getting sick and dying at a disproportionately higher rate than white people. Because many “essential workers” are people of color who (literally) can’t afford to stay home from work, they’re more likely to contract the virus — and also less likely to have the health insurance or resources to fight it.


Bail Out People, Not Corporations

Remember the Great Recession of 2008, when — even though it was everyday Americans who were suffering — the government decided to bail out the banks and corporations instead? That’s right; we bailed out JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America — the very entities that caused the recession.


Focus on the Folks Who Need the Most Help

We need to avoid the mistakes of 2008 and focus our efforts on the people who need it most: everyday Americans. Why? Because millions of Americans are struggling. They're spending their stimulus checks on necessities, like food, gas, and groceries. They need our help. And so do those who were left out of the original relief bill, like unauthorized workers and immigrants.


Support the Peoples’ Bailout

Even as we turn on our megaphones to demand swift and unprecedented action from the federal government to take care of its people, we’re heartened by the commitment from front-line healthcare workers to hold the line, no matter the cost. We cheer for the citizens and the companies who have pivoted to making masks and PPE, like Burton, Orvis, and Vermont Glove Company, among others. We tip a hat to Shake Shack’s CEO Randy Garutti, who returned his company’s $10 million stimulus loan and critiqued the system that made it possible for a company with 8,000 workers to get a small business loan in the first place.

There are bright spots out there. And we invite you to join with Ben & Jerry’s and thousands of other advocacy organizations, members of Congress and everyday people like you and to support a bailout we can believe in: one for all people.


Take Action Now!
Support the People's Bailout