Schumer taps key Warren staffer as watchdog on stimulus spending

Third Way Think Tank / Flickr Senator Chuck Schumer at Third Way...
Third Way Think Tank / Flickr

Sen. Chuck Schumer made a critical appointment Monday, naming Bharat Ramamurti to the Congressional Oversight Commission. This commission is one of the layers of oversight Democrats built into the $2 trillion stimulus package, otherwise known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Ramamurti is a longtime aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and, Schumer says, “a ferocious advocate for consumers who will fight for transparency and hold bad actors accountable.”

Ramamurti has been working with Warren since 2013, when he joined her staff to work on banking and economic policy—specifically the implementation of Dodd-Frank, the Wall Street reform law. So the guy who helped oversee the government, the Federal Reserve, and the Wall Street response to the Great Recession is now going to be doing the same thing in this economic upheaval, and that’s a good thing. He’s going to be there, carrying on Warren’s laser focus on the American consumer.

We know this is true because Ramamurti’s last job was as Warren’s deputy policy director in her presidential campaign. You know all those plans she had, including the three plans for a response to an epidemic? He helped write them, and, Mother Jones reports, “was a key voice in creating Warren’s ‘two cent’ wealth tax on households with assets greater than $50 million, and particularly instrumental in devising her corporate accountability agenda.”

Mother Jones’ Kara Voght spoke with Ramamurti following Schumer’s announcement. He told her: “We’re looking at a huge sum of money [in the emergency relief bill], and we’re in an unprecedented crisis. The question we need to ask is, ‘What impact does that money have in the functioning of our economy?’ That’s the goal of the commission.

It ultimately gets to the question of, What is the corporation and what is it going to do with that money?’ Ramamurti told Voght. Is it going to be used to keep people on payroll? If not, is it being used in the short term to provide some amount of compensation? Theres a possibility for the Treasury to put limits on buybacks—is it going to do that?

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