The COVID-19 pandemic poses deep and intertwined structural threats to an American economy that was already fragile. When the virus struck, the US had far greater wealth and income inequality than other advanced nations, and far larger coverage gaps in health and social insurance—from paid leave to unemployment insurance. As always, those inequalities were starker for Black and brown Americans.
Though Congress has intervened with trillions of dollars in stimulus and relief, these rescue packages have been poorly designed. In Four Priorities for Pandemic Relief Efforts, Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz explains that it is not too late to make different policy choices. To preserve lives and livelihoods and build economic resiliency, he argues, policymakers should focus on four:
- Reducing contagion and containing the pandemic with further support for our health care and social insurance systems, including paid leave;
- Funding state and local governments;
- Keeping workers in jobs with a paycheck guarantee program that sends money straight to firms to support their workers; and
- Providing broader-based liquidity and debt relief for individuals and households.