|It has been an exciting week. On Monday, I participated in a webinar hosted by the Progress Policy Institute’s Mosiac Initiative titled, “Bringing Diversity to Economic Thought.” On Friday, I will lead a discussion for the Lehigh-Northampton Chapter of Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children on how quality, affordable child care is an essential precondition for a successful economic recovery.
In an article published by Newsweek, I am quoted along with 11 other economists and policy experts. Below, I provide more elaboration about the quote.
I suggest policymakers focus on the vulnerable, defined as those at risk for poor economic, educational, health, or political outcomes. Below, I focus on those at risk for poor economic and educational outcomes.
Poor Economic Outcomes
There must be a new relief package with the following provisions:
- Households with dependent care responsibilities should be allowed to receive stimulus benefits for an adult up to age 26 (similar to provisions under the Affordable Care Act), especially if the adult had been living independently, is a college student or recent grad, or has been impacted by the pandemic (unemployed, reduced income, or at high risk for contracting the virus). This would be a revision of the All Dependents Count Act.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance should provide a benefit amount that is at least equal to a 40-hour workweek at the Federal minimum wage ($290/week). However, it would be better if the benefit amount were equal to the national (or state) median gap between individual median gross income and state unemployment benefits, which would help higher-income workers with limited wealth replace earnings.
- Workers should also be allowed to apply for benefits if their job puts them or members of their household at a high risk of contracting COVID-19, i.e., comorbidities that make the virus more deadly.
- Workers should be allowed to apply for benefits if dependent care is unavailable.
- Pandemic Small Business Assistance would provide for the following:
- A grant equal to the median revenue loss for small businesses, as defined by the SBA. The loss would be calculated based on the sector/industry of the business.
- Business owners could apply for a loan to make up the gap between actual revenue after loss due to COVID-19 and the pre-pandemic median industry revenue.
- A grant to allow businesses to purchase personal protection equipment and alter space to minimize the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Poor Educational Outcomes
Provide grants to school districts to:
- Assist parents with setting up micro-schools/pods, with a preference given to low-wage frontline essential workers.
- Allow teachers/teaching assistants who are vulnerable to the coronavirus to work in micro-schools/pods.
- Increase high-speed internet access for students learning remotely.
Recommendations #1 and #2 could provide each micro-school with a portable hotspot, which would reduce the cost of providing each student with internet access.
Be well this voting season.
|But I am also reminded that many this Labor Day weekend will have worked hard and will still find themselves without health care coverage to receive treatment for any illness, not just COVID-19. They will have worked hard and will find themselves without an adequate unemployment system to replace wages. They will have worked hard and will find themselves without equitable representation in government or policy-making organizations, and without a livable wage.
This Labor Day, as we celebrate the contributions workers have made to the prosperity and well-being of our society, let us remember that there is a difference between humility and systemic humiliation.
Have a safe holiday weekend!