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As lawmakers on Capitol Hill and officials in the Trump administration continue to hash out the specific contours of what an economic package will look like to respond to the downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic, debate continues over how much of this potentially $1 trillion or more legislation will be devoted to aid to big industry versus direct aid to the American people.
Just in the United States, 15,219 have been sickened, and 201 have died, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Figures are much higher worldwide.
Meanwhile, US stock markets have tanked in recent weeks, as the effects of the disease outbreak have become well-known.
“By now it is clear there must be and will be some sort of enormous federal rescue package to stem some of the economic destruction we’re currently undergoing. There’s no shortage of ideas floating around,” said MSNBC host Chris Hayes. “President Trump for one seems focused on bailing out big industries including hotels, a type of property he himself owns. Senate Republicans unveiled a plan for a trillion dollars of payments. With less money for the bottom 70 million tax filers.”
Given that the way out of this crisis seems to be social distancing and quarantine conditions, any economic rescue legislation ought to focus on direct help to average people, not the sort of massive corporate bailouts which were common after the 2008 financial meltdown, according to Robert Reich, former labor secretary in the Clinton administration, and a popular progressive activist in the decades since.
“This crisis demands that people stay home. We want to make it so that employers and employees have every possibility of staying home and getting the kind of income support they need as fast as possible,” Reich said. “No bailouts to companies, particularly big companies. Big companies can get the loans they need at almost zero interest rates.
“Big companies got a huge tax break just two years ago that they used to basically buy back their shares of stock and give big investors and executives a field day,” he added, referring to the Republican-passed tax reform legislation. “No, you don’t want that. Save the taxpayer money. Make sure it’s used for people who need it to stay home and maintain their incomes while they’re home.”
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