alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

Elizabeth Warren holds Treasury Secretary Mnuchin's feet to the fire over bailouts: 'You're boosting your Wall Street buddies'

Elizabeth Warren LGBTQ Town Hall Screengrab

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday accused Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin of looking out for his friends on Wall Street instead of U.S. workers after the former Goldman Sachs banker repeatedly refused to say whether he would require companies that receive coronavirus bailout funds to keep their employees on payroll.


The Massachusetts Democrat pointed out during a virtual Senate Banking Committee hearing that the CARES Act—which President Donald Trump signed into law in March—gives Mnuchin and the Federal Reserve broad authority to determine what, if any, conditions are attached to taxpayer bailouts.

When Mnuchin said that the CARES Act airline bailout program contained "very specific requirements to keep jobs," Warren replied, "That's right, and the rest was left up to you, and what you're saying is that you won't do it."

"We're in a situation where 35 million Americans have filed for unemployment," Warren continued. "You're in charge of nearly half a trillion dollars. You're boosting your Wall Street buddies and you are leaving the American people behind."

Watch:

David Dayen, executive editor at The American Prospecttweeted that Warren's exchange with Mnuchin "was the only one in this Senate Banking hearing so far that got to the heart of the matter."

"There is essentially nothing in the Fed money cannon term sheets that stops a company from taking bailout money and firing workers," Dayen wrote. "That's the bottom line. Giant companies with ready access to a menu of multi-trillion-dollar programs have no restrictions on using the money to support workers. We're bailing out capital, investors, and executives. That's it... Workers bear all the risk. Period."

Warren also asked Mnuchin whether he would commit to holding corporate executives criminally liable for misusing taxpayer bailout funds.

"We will review that," Mnuchin said.

In a letter (pdf) sent Monday to Mnuchin, Fed chairman Jerome Powell, and Federal Reserve Bank of New York president John Williams, Warren said she is "disappointed that you have not established strong requirements for [bailout] programs to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used wisely and in support of workers and the economy as a whole."

"You must ensure that—unlike in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis—companies that rip off taxpayers and the executives that run them are not let off the hook with minimal fines, no criminal liability, and no requirements that they even admit guilt," Warren wrote.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close