CNN: We need a grassroots stimulus package
“We should learn from the past and meet the challenges of this pandemic head-on, this time to deliver meaningful, grassroots relief directly to American families.”
The coronavirus relief package awaiting a Senate vote should not be delayed, and we must pass it immediately. But we need to do more.
The US is heading toward a recession, and Speaker Pelosi has already announced plans for an additional emergency response package. This is the right approach. We must act quickly to enact a major fiscal stimulus package that wards off economic disaster. This legislation must meet the challenge of the crisis we face by taking the next steps crucial to safeguarding our public health, including truly universal paid leave. And it must learn from the lessons of our response to the 2008 financial crash.
First, this stimulus must be large enough to match the challenges that families and communities face. In 2008, the stimulus package was too small, too tilted towards ineffective tax cuts, and too unwilling to make the structural changes needed to address serious damage to our economy. Once economists figured this out, Congress refused to pass another stimulus bill. The economic fallout was predictable: a sluggish recovery that left too many working families behind. Based on the latest projections of the likely economic harm of coronavirus, I have called for an immediate $750 billion stimulus – roughly 3.5% of GDP.
Next, the federal government should focus on recovery from the grassroots up, not Wall Street down. This means focusing on helping people directly, and, in doing so, addressing the gaping holes in our economy that leave families one lost paycheck away from defaulting on their mortgage, car, credit card, or student loan payments.
Any stimulus package must also pass an important test: federal money that goes to big corporations or specific industries must be used to help their employees. Funds must come with strings attached to ensure that the money goes to maintain payroll, not to enrich shareholders or pay executive bonuses. Giant corporations that receive substantial loans from taxpayers should be required to set aside one or more board seats for a representative elected by the company’s workers. Violations should trigger criminal penalties and clawbacks.
When the 2008 financial crisis hit, the federal government responded with a bankers’ bailout. The rich and powerful got richer and more powerful. We should learn from the past and meet the challenges of this pandemic head-on, this time to deliver meaningful, grassroots relief directly to American families.
Read the full op-ed on the CNN website here.
By: Senator Elizabeth Warren
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