Pennsylvania — Working class Pennsylvanians from Lancaster to Philadelphia and Erie to Reading voted to send new leaders to Washington in 2020. Now, they're looking for Congress to deliver for working people. But as lawmakers debate a budget package that would be a major step towards funding a people's recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, Pennsylvania Stands Up is unveiling a new report authored by People’s Action and Demos that reveals disturbing lobbying efforts by major corporations to undermine popular elements of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
Just 20 corporations or groups representing them — including Comcast Corporation, Pennsylvania-based members of the National Association of Realtors, and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield — have spent more than $201 million on lobbying so far this year. Some of these corporations, like Comcast, have lobbied for narrow infrastructure investments that would boost their profits at the same time as they fight proposals in the $3.5 trillion package that would require them to pay their fair share of taxes to fund programs that would benefit working families.
Pennsylvania voters strongly support the proposals included in President Biden's Build Back Better proposal — and they support taxing big corporations and the wealthy to pay for them, according to polling conducted by Data For Progress in May and August. With many families still struggling to recover from the pandemic, Pennsylvania voters support fully funding investments in long-term care, relief for renters and homeowners, Medicare and Medicaid expansions, family leave and child care support for working parents.
"I've been homeless three times in my life. Now, I have a place of my own, but I'm still scared I could lose it," said Jontel Toland, a Lancaster resident and member of Lancaster Stands Up. "Over the summer, I found myself with no income for two months. I owed my landlady back rent along with my other bills. It's so hard for me as a single man, and I know it's even harder for parents with kids. Lawmakers in Washington should support President Biden's full $3.5 trillion budget, instead of listening to corporate CEOs, who want to boost their own profits while fighting funding for programs that would support folks like me and millions of other Pennsylvanians."
As Congressional Democrats debate how to pass the two central pieces of President Biden's Build Back Better Agenda, the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Pennsylvania Stands Up has joined hundreds of other people's organizations in calling on House members to vote NO on the IIJA bill until the larger $3.5 trillion budget resolution is passed. To date, Rep. Brendan Boyle (PA-02) is the only member of the PA Democratic Delegation to publicly commit to doing so.
"We are pleased that Pennsylvania's Democratic delegation to the US House has been supportive of President Biden's wildly popular Build Back Better agenda," said Jacob Swenson-Lengyel, PA Stands Up's Director of Communications and Narrative. "But the entire delegation should put the needs of everyday working families ahead of profits for wealthy corporations like Comcast. That means joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus to vote NO on the proposal to pass one piece of the Build Back Better agenda without the other. As Democrats look toward tough re-election campaigns next year, they'd be nuts to ditch the most popular parts of the president's plan to appease greedy CEOs."
The report, Behind the Curtain: The Corporate Plot to Upend Democracy, focuses on six key issues areas in which corporations are working to derail critical provisions in the $3.5T budget package:
- increasing taxes for corporations and the ultra-rich;
- lowering drug prices;
- providing affordable healthcare;
- investing in public and affordable housing;
- tackling climate change; and
- providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people.
“We pulled the curtain back on corporate America, and it isn’t pretty,” People’s Action Campaigns Director Sondra Youdelman said. “They’ve spent more than $201 million in lobbying this year alone in a pathetic power grab. We’re proud to work with Demos to expose their desperate attempts, and urge Congress to do its job and pass a budget package for the people.”
The full text of the report may be found here.