WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – Joe Biden railed against the United States coronavirus stimulus packages in an interview published on Saturday (April 25), calling corporate America “greedy as hell” while demanding legislation that includes stricter conditions on business bailouts and more oversight of the Trump administration.
In the interview with Politico, the former vice-president said the next stimulus Bill should be “a hell of a lot bigger” than the first US$2 trillion (S$2.8 trillion) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or Cares, Act and assailed big business and banks. “This is the second time we’ve bailed their asses out,” he said of the big banks.
The presumptive Democratic nominee also said banks like Wells Fargo & Co are “only alive because of the American taxpayer” and criticised them for prioritising large corporate clients in securing money from the stimulus package that was set aside for small businesses.
“We knew from the beginning that the big banks don’t like lending to small businesses,” Mr Biden said. “I’m telling you, though, if Main Street businesses don’t get help, they’re gone.”
The interview comes as Mr Biden tries to win over the progressive wing of the party and woo supporters of his former rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Mr Biden has been criticised by some progressives in recent days after a report that Mr Larry Summers, the former Treasury secretary, is one of his economic advisers. Mr Summers has come under fire for his work as a top economic official in the Obama administration, including for being too favourable to big banks during the financial crisis.
He downplayed his role in the Biden campaign in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Friday, saying he is “one of many, many people” the campaign consults and that he doesn’t have a formal role.
Mr Biden said future stimulus packages should include more aid for states and cities and a green infrastructure Bill that includes investments in light rail, clean drinking water and electric vehicle chargers.
He also repeated his call for addressing some of the structural issues in the economy that he says have long been ignored. Coronavirus, he has said over the past few weeks, presents an opportunity to address some of these longstanding problems.
“I think there’s going to be a willingness to fix some of the institutional inequities that have existed for a long time,” he said. “Milton Friedman isn’t running the show anymore.” He was referring to economist Milton Friedman, who popularised the notion of shareholder primacy and pursuit of profit.
In the interview, Mr Biden also contrasted his oversight of the Obama administration’s US$800 billion Recovery Act with President Donald Trump’s leadership. He said the administration is “wasting a hell of a lot of money”, and criticised Mr Trump for firing the Pentagon inspector general who was tasked with overseeing the Cares Act.
“Right now, there’s no oversight,” he said. Mr Trump, he added “made it real clear he doesn’t have any damn interest in being checked. The last thing he wants is anyone watching that US$500 billion going to corporate America, for God’s sake.”