Trump Still Has His Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Wrong

Trump Still Has His Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Wrong

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Janet Ybarra
Democrat
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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I don’t understand Donald Trump.

He’s made it clear that the tanking stock markets, the broader economy and their effects on his potential for reelection are more important to him than the human cost in suffering and death from the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic itself.

However, unlike his fellow Republicans–notably Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mitt Romney of Utah–Trump remains stubbornly married to a payroll tax holiday as really the only direct-to-the-people form of economic stimulus.

If what Trump is trying to do is merely package another federal goodie give-away to the well-off, disguised as economic stimulus, then that’s what a payroll tax holiday is for.

What it won’t do is either help the broadest number of Americans weather the current crisis, or provide the biggest stimulus to the US economy.

“High-income people don’t spend as much of their income as low-income people do,” said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “If what you’re trying to do to stabilize the economy is getting people to consume, giving high-income people money won’t help that.”

Meanwhile, Cotton and Romney are each advocating some variation of putting direct cash into the hands of all Americans–something like a version of the universal basic income (UBI) former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has long touted.

A former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama is recommending including a one-time payment of $1,000 to every American adult and $500 for every child in any economic stimulus program.

Jason Furman, now at Harvard University, said that he has spoken to experts and that the virus “that it is not realistic to expect it to go away in two months, and that if it did, it could come back even more virulently again in the flu season next year.”

If Trump’s so concerned with his own reelection, he ought to let go of his ideological rigidity and embrace some of these other ideas actually designed to help the most Americans (read potential voters) as possible.

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