News Release

Economic Plans for Addressing the Pandemic

JAMES GALBRAITH, Galbraith at operamail.com

MICHAEL LIND, mlind40 at outlook.com
Lind is a New America fellow and Galbraith teaches at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. They recently wrote the piece “Needed: A Finance Agency to Handle the Financial Meltdown from the Coronavirus” for the Boston Globe. They write: “Congress should create a time-limited government corporation, a Health Finance Corporation. It should be modeled on the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, created during the Depression and used to support the New Deal and the World War II mobilization.”

NANCY ALTMAN, via Linda Benesch, lbenesch at socialsecurityworks.org, @SSWorks
Altman is president of Social Security Works and just wrote the piece “Learning From FDR: The Coronavirus Pandemic Requires Long-Term Solutions” for Forbes. The piece quotes one of Roosevelt’s closest advisers, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. She explained the thinking in a nationwide radio address: “We cannot be satisfied merely with makeshift arrangements which will tide us over the present emergencies. We must devise plans that will not merely alleviate the ills of today, but will prevent, as far as it is humanly possible to do so, their recurrence in the future.”

EILEEN APPELBAUM, via Dan Beeton, beeton at cepr.net
Appelbaum is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which just released the report “Concrete Solutions to Mitigate the Health and Economic Impacts of the Pandemic.” It includes many recommendations, such as: “Inject immediate economic stimulus to develop the expansion of physical space dedicated to urgent medical care. That includes both the conversion of appropriate spaces as well as, where applicable, adding tents, trailers, and other temporary adjuncts. …

“Make paid sick leave expansion both real … and permanent. A minimum number of paid sick days should be no less than 80 hours for full-time workers, pro-rated hours for part-time, and should be a federally-mandated employment standard, similar to minimum wage.”

A section is titled: “Avoid Bailout for Highly-Concentrated Industries that Could Have Taken Out Insurance Policies,” and states: “If the current cruise ship industry couldn’t foresee health issues, given its history, its shareholders deserve to be cleaned out on their investment. Bankruptcy law exists for a reason — a bankrupt cruise industry does not mean additional unemployed cruise ship workers, it means they will be working for new owners who, in theory, have the foresight to buy insurance that includes pandemics.”

The same applies to other massive businesses. If airlines go bankrupt, the retirement benefits of tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of workers could be damaged through no fault of their own. It is not a worker’s job to make decisions on insurance! We recommend ensuring a prepackaged bankruptcy policy that protects these benefits, which are often the lowest priority under bankruptcy law, as was done with the auto industry. Some federal money as an inducement might be necessary, but that’s significantly less money than if shareholders were to be made whole for investing in imprudent management.”