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Former Washington Journalist
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With US unemployment soaring to 14.7 percent–and 20.5 million Americans losing their jobs in April alone–all as fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is reimagining what the economy could look like after the pandemic, potentially working for more working-class Americans.
US unemployment has hit levels not seen since the Great Depression, nearly a century ago.
The US economy has largely been shuttered for weeks as a result of state stay-at-home orders and lockdown conditions in place to try to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Congress has been pumping trillions of dollars into the economy through various economic stimulus and rescue packages.
At this point, Donald Trump and a number of state governors have begun looking at reopening their state economies.
“I want to talk a little bit about this idea of — that a lot of people are talking about, is this idea of ‘going back to normal’ and what does that mean,” said Ocasio-Cortez, who has emerged as a spokeswoman for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. “Because I think when a lot of people are talking about going back to normal, I think that means something really, really different for each and every one of us. And for me, I know that normal is — was not working for our community.
“It’s funny because earlier today I was having a conversation with some folks, and a couple of weeks ago, a couple of days ago — time is all kind of flowing together at this point — there was this huge, like, kind of Fox News firestorm, because I said that for a lot of workers, and suggested that a lot of workers perhaps shouldn’t go back to work if they’re going back — if they’re being ordered to go back into unsafe conditions.
“And by unsafe, we don’t just mean people lacking [personal protective equipment] PPE, which is, of course, super important, but also it’s unsafe for us to be working 70, 80-hour work weeks, over two jobs, with no health insurance, and a completely precarious way of life,” she said. “And that was normal.
“I think one thing that we need to kind of realize is that we’re not going back to normal. And that is for better or for worse. I think that for those of us here in New York City, I think we’re starting to internalize that, that something very fundamentally has impacted us and has shifted, but I think a big issue that a lot of other people in the country don’t quite understand is what’s coming, is that what we are really experiencing right now is not the depths of this crisis. This thing is just starting,” she said.
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