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Consumer Reports: Coronavirus Relief Bill Will Provide Some Help for Consumers, But Does Not Do Enough to Put People First

CR urges policymakers to go further to help American families and individuals hard-hit by financial fallout from coronavirus 


WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Congress sends the White House a massive relief bill to address the economic impact of the coronavirus, Consumer Reports says the package contains some immediate assistance for consumers, mixed among record funds that will go to corporations, and much more work is needed to help the millions of people who drive America’s economy.


More than 70,000 people signed a CR petition to Congress and the White House to urge them to make the financial well-being of families and individuals a central priority of any legislation aimed at addressing the impact of coronavirus.


The final bill includes provisions to provide one-time cash payments to most Americans and bolster the unemployment insurance system, while extending an unprecedented level of taxpayer assistance for potentially millions of large and small companies.  It also provides families some protection from eviction and foreclosure. 


However, the bill does not include key provisions that would prevent Americans from falling into debt during the emergency, or ensure that they have a path back to stability when it is over.


Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports, said, “The economic recovery we will face due to the Coronavirus pandemic will necessitate a long-term approach reflecting the ongoing, evolving needs of families, workers, and consumers. We know that there will be significant financial hardship for millions and we must ensure that our government is responsive to the very people who are the engine of our economy and not simply to corporations.”


Anna Laitin, Director, Financial Policy, for Consumer Reports, said, “The top priority for lawmakers should be to put people first.  This bill will provide some needed help for people who are feeling the impact of the crisis on their lives and their livelihoods. But it does not do enough to put people first. Our nation, and the companies receiving record taxpayer funds, cannot succeed without a strong consumer base.”  


Laitin said, “We still need comprehensive reforms to help prevent Americans from falling into long-term debt during this emergency. We must ensure that Americans are in their homes and do not risk the loss of essential utilities, including broadband internet.  And we need to ensure that Americans are protected from those who would take advantage of the crisis by price gouging.


“This bill provides oversight for the companies that are getting billions of dollars of taxpayer money, but it does not require those companies to make any real changes to protect the very people who are rescuing them.  We will be keeping a very close watch over these industries to make sure consumers are treated fairly, throughout the crisis and afterwards,” Laitin added.




NOTE: CR is collecting stories from people around the country who are suffering severe economic consequences as a result of the current public health crisis.  CR can help connect reporters with people willing to be interviewed about their hardship experiences. To learn more, contact Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org

Hundreds of individuals have shared with Consumer Reports their fears and concerns about their current situation and their financial future. They told CR about work hours being cut, layoffs impacting themselves and their communities, businesses closing up shop, and contract work drying up. They worried about newborn babies, older parents, and simply being able to keep food on the table and a roof over their children’s heads. Each story is a reminder of the human cost that extends far beyond the public health crisis.

Consumer Reports has a statement of principles that the nonprofit has shared with policymakers as a guide for developing responses to address the national emergency.