By Jason Walsh, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance.
Congress took the first major step last week to address the immediate economic impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic when it passed legislation to provide paid time off to some workers and boost unemployment insurance, among other measures. Now they are negotiating another step forward, but facing an economy that will probably lose millions of jobs by this summer, two things are abundantly clear: we need more and we need it now.
Congress must develop an economic stimulus package focused on working people and the public good. This can’t just be a quick bailout of a few industries with close ties to the president. Some companies will need support, but that support shouldn’t be going to CEOs and investors, and it must come with conditions to avoid permanent layoffs, secure jobs, and provide safe and fair working conditions. We cannot hand over billions of dollars without standards that ensure the money is used wisely and that workers see the direct benefit.
Such a stimulus package must safeguard working peoples’ jobs, homes, and livelihoods. In addition, it must shore up the critical public services, hospitals, childcare, and transit needed to stave off an even graver economic crisis.
Congress must develop an economic stimulus package focused on working people and the public good. This can’t just be a quick bailout of a few industries with close ties to the president.
It must also include investments that will provide for a sustained economic recovery. America’s has neglected our infrastructure — both the physical roads, bridges, water lines, broadband, and transit systems and the “social infrastructure” made up of the public sector, health care and education systems, and community-based resources — for decades. The Coronavirus pandemic is the latest test of our systems and our communities are not equipped to deal with a major crisis — be it a virus, a hurricane, wildfires, or a workplace disaster.
We cannot hand over billions of dollars without standards that ensure the money is used wisely and that workers see the direct benefit.
Investment in a forward-looking recovery is critical to assure American families, workers, businesses — and markets — that we will rebuild a fair and resilient economy. Revitalizing and modernizing the basic systems we rely on to provide us energy, education, health care, and transportation can provide a much-needed jolt to our economy by creating good-paying jobs in communities around our nation while building for the public good. We can also use this opportunity to make the much-needed, major reinvestment in America’s manufacturing sector to retool industry to lead in making the products, materials, and technologies of the future.
The immediate relief passed this week will help some Americans dealing with the economic harm caused by the Coronavirus. The long-term relief and investment in America’s basic infrastructure and social systems must build a stronger, cleaner, and more inclusive economy for every American. The ancillary benefits of those investments will pay dividends for decades. Repairing our broken infrastructure systems will also reduce pollution and improve public health for generations to come.
It is time for leaders elected by people to step up and pass an economic stimulus and recovery package for the people and the future we’ll build together. And they should do it now!