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In conversation with Trevon Logan

Summary:
Policy recommendations to deal with the immediacy of the coronavirus recession Hipple: Given the reality of how disparate both the health and the economic impacts of the coronavirus are, what are some recommendations you would have for policymakers to address these issues? In particular, what are policies they need to be thinking of that they might not be thinking of if they’re unaware of these disparities and the historical inequalities that they’re stemming from? Logan: Well, one those policies has to be an aggressive move to do testing. Doing so is going to prevent the spread of this virus from getting worse and is going to have a positive impact on African Americans because they’re disproportionally affected. We must have aggressive testing.

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Policy recommendations to deal with the immediacy of the coronavirus recession

Hipple: Given the reality of how disparate both the health and the economic impacts of the coronavirus are, what are some recommendations you would have for policymakers to address these issues? In particular, what are policies they need to be thinking of that they might not be thinking of if they’re unaware of these disparities and the historical inequalities that they’re stemming from?

Logan: Well, one those policies has to be an aggressive move to do testing. Doing so is going to prevent the spread of this virus from getting worse and is going to have a positive impact on African Americans because they’re disproportionally affected. We must have aggressive testing. We must have personal protective equipment for those essential employees who are on the front lines. We must continue to enforce social distancing to prevent the spread of the disease, taking into account that many people are not able to do so in their personal spaces. And we must protect the families of workers as we’ve seen these outbreaks at manufacturing plants and at food processing plants. This is due to community spread that takes place in workplaces that become hot spots. We then have to ensure that workers are safe in their environment when they do return to work. All of these things are not necessarily racially specific, but they would help because African Americans are disproportionally impacted by policies in these areas.

Hipple: On the economic side, what are some of the economic policies that you think policymakers will need to consider? For example, they have already passed a couple of large stabilization packages aimed at boosting Unemployment Insurance and sending checks directly to Americans. Will this be enough? Will they need to do more? Are there other economic policies that they should consider to both try to stabilize the economy and then, looking long term, trying to bring it back online?

Logan: I think one of the first things you want to deal with and extend would be unemployment benefits. Workers impacted will be impacted for quite some time. The recovery from this recession will be slow and uneven. And a slow and uneven move back from and rebound from what we’re experiencing, say, in early March is going to have a disproportionate impact on African Americans. Unemployment benefit extensions and enhancement would greatly help, particularly to protect consumption.

I also would think that we would want moratoriums on some types of payments, such as mortgages and rent for those who have been impacted negatively by the coronavirus. And these moratoriums have to then extend those payments to the end of, say, a mortgage instead of having a lump sum payment after a short reprieve from these sorts of payments. Those are two really solid policies right there that would actually help.

Another policy that they should be extending is the small business lending and Paycheck Protection Program because this recession has negatively impacted a lot of the African American entrepreneurs and their very small businesses that have had difficulty accessing the availability of capital in this federal lending program. And this lending program has to be extended. We need every small business that can possibly hope to survive, say, a six-month decline in demand to be able to. And so, we need to have those lending facilities operational and actually get those payments to those businesses much faster than we currently have.

Another aspect that needs to be extended or thought about would be deferment on other sorts of debt, for example, student loan payments, which, once again, would help people to preserve their consumption and living standards as well as we could hope for in this economic collapse.

Finally, we also need support for state and local governments. One of the things that is happening is their revenues have declined considerably right now. And many of these states are providing critical social services, and they will have to make cuts in those social services right at a time when the need for those social services is probably at an all-time high. So, we have to provide fiscal support to state and local governments so that they can provide the necessary services to the public.

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