Virus Throws Millions More Out of Work, and Washington Struggles to Keep Pace

Apr 09, 2020 · 84 comments
Dave (New York)
Probably the most thoughtful look at the history of the coronavirus , the present situation, and the future was discussed tonight on the PBS program Firing Line in a half-hour interview with host Margaret Hoover and former FDA chief Dr Scott Gottlieb.It will be on PBS again on WNET tomorrow night at 10 pm. I would urge anyone wanting an insight into where we are headed and what we are facing to watch it.
George S. (NY & LA)
What's particularly telling about this is that these are still early days. We've been locked down, staying at home for less than a month. Even as Trump and company posture about re-opening the economy, major sections of the US are only now or still have yet to face the full brunt of this pandemic. The collapse of businesses small and large has only begun. And soon, as we peruse the newly empty storefronts of failed retail operations, there will be the consequent mortgage defaults of landlords suddenly bereft of rental income. We've had an unprecedented period of employment these past months. Yet the upshot is that so many of these people were working in gig economy -- here today; gone tomorrow jobs. How many Uber and Lyft drivers will survive as ridership plummets? And how many of them will consequently default on their auto loans? How many seniors in tourist-oriented towns who relied on Airbnb rentals to meet the mortgage payments will now see their incomes collapse as tourists disappear? And indeed, in those tourist-oriented towns, how many boardwalk ice cream and taffy shops will survive an empty Summer? Congressional trillion-dollar stimulus packages are salves relying upon now gutted Federal bureaucracies to actually provide the relief. How much money has actually moved to small businesses so far? There is a deep economic downturn just beginning. It will be devastating to millions. No, we're not about to re-open; we're in the process of closing.
Candlewick (Ubiquitous Drive)
I wish Jim had expounded on the government's efforts to (also) limit assistance to the millions now unemployed- namely from the new Secretary of Labor, Eugene Scalia (son of Antonin-let-them-eat-cake- Scalia). In office just 6 months, Scalia-the-younger has been quietly rewriting guidelines making it almost impossible for Gig Workers and the self-employed to qualify for unemployment during the COVID-19 outbreak; although Congress' intent was to include them. According to a Washington Post article today, Mr. Scalia has gone on Fox lamenting the lazy-government-dependent Unemployed Worker [ my words]. I listened to his interview, and even the Fox host had to remind him these are PEOPLE behind the numbers. “We want workers to work, not to become dependent on the unemployment system,” Scalia wrote with Small Business Administration chief Jovita Carranza. “Unemployment is not the preferred outcome when government stay-at-home orders force temporary business shutdowns.” (Washington Post).
marfi (houston, austin, texas)
What a vicious circle? Any good news we receive on the virus is the result largely from social distancing and the associated quarantine measures which, alas, create the unemployment surge we are now witnessing. Now, of course, is the time when it pays to be a citizen of the U.S., the wealthiest country on earth; that is, provided that the wealthiest country on earth is not already over-extended. The required policy responses will invariably entail economic policies that are less than optimal. But that's okay, because when this country mobilizes for a crisis, as does in wartime, nothing can stop it.
Savage Vegan (Canada)
It is a function of scale and right-wing ideology, the US is just too large to do what France and Germany did, and more, because of Trump’s boundless incompetence, and years of Republican mis-direction, you don’t have a properly prepared federal government to execute even a perfect plan. The weaknesses in each country’s system is being exposed. The EU members suffer from being economically joined at the hip without being a proper federation. China exposed a need for draconian control to get anything done, Iranians are dying because of theocratic incompetence, and so forth. The harsh reality is that the bubble of safety and prosperity that has encased the world since the 20th century is bursting, and humanity is being inexorably carried back to face the Hobbesian reality of the natural world. Today, it is the plague of Covid-19; what will it be tomorrow? The four horsemen are saddling up.
Jack (California)
There is no question that many small businesses will never open again, or will go out of business this year due to reduced spending in their industry-like any connected to travel, restaurants, advertising and public relations, HR, consultants, etc. And it was absurd for the White House to think that businesses would remain open with many cities and states having the necessary "shelter-in-place" orders or because people just were not buying like before corona. People and small businesses do not have the cash to pay as normal for even a month without a paycheck or adequate revenue. Why is the SBA STILL working out the technical things and guidelines? Those things should have been worked on as soon as it was likely that a federal business loan program was being worked on in Congress with the final guidelines completed within a few days after the president signed the stimulus bill.
Jim R (Omaha)
I read and sympathize with the comments lamenting how we have had to shut down the economy to deal with this pandemic. But the only way to have avoided that, which essentially follows from having to treat everyone as if they are infected, would have been to have sufficient widespread testing to identify the asymptomatic people who were the primary spread of the contagion and employ a more targeted approach. I think that would have been much easier to implement in less densely populated areas. But the administration sabotaged the US ability to test in that manner. So here we are. And the less populated areas where it could work are still among the lowest tested per capita. I have yet to hear why that decision was made, and continues to be the case, and any attempt to ask is considered "nasty" and any answer refused. So other than just tell people to ignore it until they get sick what other option are we left with?
Dave (New York)
I'm pretty sure there is an earthly planetary awareness that is sick and tired of human beings using the planet as a garbage dump as if they own it and destroying the beauty that has painstakingly evolved over aeons and intended to continue . I think the virus was evolved for exactly this purpose...to pose a serious existential test to human beings and their blindly thoughtless behaviors, schemes, and destructive inventions. It's going to be a very costly, life-altering prospect for humans to show their inventiveness, mettle, decency , and ability to co-operate at high cost to overcome. And probably equally as likely as unlikely. I doubt that the interests of Wall Street were considered.
Paul W (Denver)
The media, including NYT, pushes coronapocalypse, then says the government isn't doing enough to help the people who have lost their jobs and businesses. Classic. It's almost as if they want more, more, more government spending, more, more, more government agencies, more, more, more printing of money. Or you could, you know, let people go back to work.
Keep Clam (Puget Sound)
The Trump administration bungled the pandemic response; they'll bungle this, too.
Geo (New York)
@Keep Clam Typical partisan govt save me response
Melanie Lovell (Colorado Springs)
@Geo The government shut businesses down, so it stands to reason that the government should get them open again. This is not 2008 when greed and irresponsibility were rewarded with bailouts. This is about the governments -- state and federal -- making the most draconian, harmful decision possible for small businesses. They bear responsibility for that decision.
sgc (Tucson AZ)
Seems that the "business genius" in the White House has no idea how to handle this crisis, or help the American people.
Ma (Atl)
The comments and narrative are so expected and typical. We are in a global pandemic. It is not the fault of the current administration. I'd like to see the headlines and coverage if the Dems were in the WH. I am certain that nothing would be different with regards to the spread and impact, but the NYTimes would be touting their efforts. Of that I'm certain. When the narrative is so predictable, do we really have honest reporting? In the mean time, people are losing their jobs, their businesses, their emotional well being.... regardless of politics, what does the NYTimes propose as a fix as they sit and write these negative articles hourly?
Geo (New York)
@Ma Tax the rich....bankrupt the middle class with more "free" entitlements....centrally plan everyones life to work for the State...Y'know fascism or China
Paul O (NYC)
My impression is that Washington will be using this crisis to line their own pockets - and all the federal money this pandemic appears to release for aid – will really go to individuals in the White House and their "team" - to give themselves enormous wealth - at the expense of the citizens of the United States.
Geo (New York)
@Paul O If you think its just the GOP you live in a fantasy world....Stop the partisan nonsense and WAKE UP!!
Jamie (New York City)
Putting aside the fact that most small businesses have been shuttered since early March, and loan applications under the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) did not even open until April 3rd; or the fact that the PPP application process, as documented by the New York Times, has been an unmitigated disaster; the program is misconceived by design. The Payroll Protection Program is intended to discourage layoffs, but the expanded unemployment benefits, passed under the same congressional package, actively encourages layoffs. Loan forgiveness under PPP is available as long as businesses re-hire workers by June 30th. Savvy (but maybe unsympathetic) small business owners, therefore, have furloughed staff and are timing their PPP loan applications closer to the businesses re-opening, thus scoring “free” payroll costs under both government programs. How could the bill allow this, and what does this say about Congress’ understanding of how small businesses work? Granted, unemployment insurance will put money back in workers’ pockets, but this ignores the social and psychological costs of being unemployed, and the pain of dealing with local unemployment offices (already stretched thin in a normal economy) should not be understated. The federal relief should have gone much further – like it has in other countries – to keep works on payroll for the duration of this crisis, and to penalize small businesses who try to double dip.
Geo (New York)
@Jamie Is running up all this 12 trillion of additional debt in a more efficient manner your answer?
Tim Davenport (Corvallis, OR)
"...efforts were too small and came to late...to prevent businesses abandoning their workers." — I didn't "abandon" anybody, I had to lay one person off and face laying off another, leaving me alone in a shoe shop of three employees, due to a drop in business of 95% compared to last year's figures, in what should be the height of spring selling season, with invoices for new merchandise coming due. I "abandoned" nobody and I'm doing the best I can with the choices before me to keep incomes stable — be that through a PPP loan/grant (still waiting to see the first dollar of that!) or through getting employees safely onto the unemployment rolls for the financial security of that. The fact is that the "stay at home and hide" disease abatement strategy advocated by the epidemiologists and pushed through by decree by state governors always had a gargantuan economic price tag, a bill which was not adequately subjected to cost-benefit analysis with their draconian one-size-fits-all policy decrees. The economies of rural areas were needlessly and thoughtlessly trashed in the real need to contain urban hotspots. There still is no endgame, no exit strategy, no finish in sight. We now have disease and a universal economic meltdown, with a government rolling the printing presses to paper over the collapse with cash — next on the horizon, financial collapse. That doesn't even bring up the question of an authoritarian coup in November. Have a nice day.
Observer (midwest)
@Tim Davenport : Yours is an articulate and insightful comment. This article lamely tries to lateral the blame for surging unemployment from hysterical one-size-fits-all policy of public and media pooh-bahs onto the shoulders of bureaucrats who were "unprepared" to cope with 13,000,000 newly unemployed in three weeks and the failure of countless thousands of businesses. Well, how could they possibly have been prepared? Expect more of this blame-shifting as the Big Back Pedal gains momentum. The carnage from this hysterical fiasco will impoverish the world for years. I have run a company and sympathize with small businessmen, such as yourself, who are so cavalierly sacrificed to whatever epidemiologists wake-up and think about over coffee each morning.
Geo (New York)
@Tim Davenport Bingo!.... The socialists believe they have a right to own your labor and can redistribute it as they please through taxes. The socialists/fascists want to live forever off of other peoples money and taxes and/or debt....What both sides of the aisle are doing to keep power is mortgaging the millennial's and the country's future with immediate debt and no structural reforms except bigger govt entitlements and more debt....A pox on both sides as we go the way of Rome!!!
Chris Lynn (Marietta, GA)
@Tim Davenport I understand your pain and frustration, but it is not true to say that the trade-off between public safety under Covid and economic damage has not been thought through. Here, for example, are two papers addressing the issue directly: https://www.nber.org/papers/w26882.pdf https://drive.google.com/file/d/1x8I2XqDDPPUKn5zLa8qtEkQMe3EUsfP4/view The conclusions, broadly, are that it is better to have extreme measures now than pay the economic price of an extended recession - and the cost in human lives - caused by a resurgence of the pandemic.
Chris Lynn (Marietta, GA)
You mention the German & French schemes to pay companies not to lay off workers. This system is much more efficient than the US approach of giving workers extra unemployment benefits. In the case of Germany's 'Kurzarbeit' scheme, it was tested during the 2008 crisis and ready to go into action immediately the pandemic hit. The US, by contrast, is floundering, with state unemployment agencies, the IRS and the SBA totally unprepared for the demand. The general responsible for improving the supply of PPE to health workers said last week that he 'did not want to disrupt the supply chain' because it would be inefficient to deal directly with hospitals. The supply chain for putting money in peoples' pockets is via their employers - and the same argument applies.
LouviniaP (Los Angeles)
And on March 5 the NYT published “As Bernie Sanders Pushed for Closer Ties, Soviet Union Spotted Opportunity” while the candidate was preparing to rally voters in Michigan. Let’s just hope the work the media and the Democratic Party has done to undermine Bernie’s campaign and propel Joe Biden to the fore is enough to undo their handiwork in 2016. Unfortunately, unlike Bernie, Mr. Biden has been nowhere to be seen and offered little by way of leadership, advise, or compassion as the nation battles this deadly beast (save for pushing to move ahead with primaries that should have been postponed or proffered by mail-in ballots). Now, the Biden bet is the last chance to staff Washington with capable administrators, and Lord knows we need that now more than ever. In the meantime, I will continue to watch as Mr. Sanders fights for the millions of people whose hurt continues to mount day after day.
RAE (Michigan)
It was inevitable that something would come along eventually and expose how weak and unbalanced the economy really is. When over half of the working people cannot even afford to pay for a $400 emergency, something is drastically wrong, folks. The FED keeps propping up the stock market so that investors can continue to reap their gains, while the average working person struggles to live paycheck to paycheck. Wealth inequality has been getting worse and worse in this country for years and now is comparable to what we had in the 1920s. Everyone knows what happened right after that. The sad thing is that none of this is going to change while the GOP is in control of the presidency and the Senate. We had a chance to nominate and elect someone who finally wanted to fight for the working person, Bernie Sanders, and we blew it. It's really hard for me to be sympathetic to the plight of a working person who voted for GOP candidates in the last election (or any recent election). We get the kind of government we deserve, folks.
Geo (New York)
@RAE Will socialism by Dems work? Has wealth inequality gone down with socialist dem policys?.... Please look at the last admins record on wealth inequality as it might shock you to know how it grew larger than any other admin's in US history
RAE (Michigan)
@Geo I'm aware that wealth inequality worsened during the Obama years. I do fault Obama for not trying to do more to address it, but let's face it - McConnell and his cronies in the Senate blocked just about everything Obama tried to do that would have helped working people, so no changes were going to happen with GOP control of the Senate. Had Bernie Sanders been nominated and elected in 2016, as should have happened, I guarantee he would have made a much stronger effort to address wealth inequality. Of course, the Senate would have attempted to block those efforts also, because they have to protect their wealthy donors that got them elected in the first place. People like McConnell really don't care whether working people suffer or not....as long as they can insulate themselves from us, and not share one penny of their wealth (much of which was acquired on the backs of working people), they're happy.
Ron Boschan (Philadelphia)
Banks and the government have proven they are inept at rapidly distributing cash to small businesses to save companies and save jobs. That is precisely why Nancy Pelosi, the House and the senate have to try to get the next package right rather than rush to pass another bill. Perhaps accountants, payroll services or tax services that already have accounts with these businesses could do a better job and should be given an opportunity to serve. Give Pelosi, and other Representatives credit for at least allowing small businesses the ability under the CARE act to borrow $100,000 from their pension plans to at least have a bridge loan to save their businesses until funds arrive. Maybe a tax holiday on pension plans would provide additional relief. PS a shoutout to Rep Houlahan for suggesting pension plan assistance.
Paul W (Denver)
@Ron Boschan get it right? They'll never be able to do that.
Ltj (Florida)
Anyone who thinks the Trump Administration will do a good job administering any kind of aid during this crisis--health, economic, or other--needs their head examined.
Paul W (Denver)
@Ltj Ya, they should probably institute a shovel-ready jobs program and cash for clunkers, those worked AWESOMELY.
Geo (New York)
@Paul W Lol...and wealth inequality didnt grow a "smidge" from '08 to '16.....:)
Mary Comfort (Aptos, CA)
Next Horseman up: Famine.
Thomas (Hollywood)
“I’m not asking for a handout,” Mr. Mitchell said, but “we need some additional help, or else America’s not going to have a restaurant industry to come back to.” I fact, a handout is exactly what you are asking for -- and what your employees need. You're just afraid to use the term you have used as a convenient derogatory slur against others when they needed help.
Geo (New York)
@Thomas Govt dependency is all about freedom obviously
Stephen (USA)
Do not be afraid. Here's a link to build up that courage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLt02JvWogg&t=19s
Steve Beck (Middlebury, VT)
I have a headful of quandary and am suffering from major cognitive dissonance. Is not this what the American public wanted, a drowned Federal government and the chance to pull yourself up by your bootstraps? Get workin' people as you are on your own and please get ready for four more years because it is hard to beat the incumbent.
Stephen Beard (Troy, OH)
Too little, too late. The story of our times with the Trump administration in charge. I wonder if he'll blame the Chinese, Hillary's emails, or his favorite target the lamestream press for his own debacle.
mlbex (California)
We all live more simply and do less for just a month, and suddenly the economy is in a black hole. This lays bare the fiction that you can have anything resembling a sustainable economy without socialism. That's the only way to get money into the hands of people who you don't need, and who will either starve, become criminals, or revolt if you don't do it. This truth is so self evident that it got Trump to support and sign the biggest socialist bill in history. When we get past this virus, we'd better figure out how to create a balance between individual ownership (capitalism) and collective responsibility (socialism), instead of demonizing one or the other. We're going to need both.
Geo (New York)
@mlbex Lol.... Capitalism and socialism cant coexist as they are diametrically opposed and will eventually fail due to govt and constituent greed
mlbex (California)
@Geo Right and wrong. Very few things, including this are binary or "all or nothing." That kind of thinking limits options. Right: The greed and malfeasance are a problem in every society. Controlling them is necessary to have a decent society no matter h how socialist or capitalist it is. Wrong: They already coexist in different ratios in every human society (roads, schools, post office, etc... all socialist). Getting the mix right and having good governance is more important than trying to be all capitalist or all socialist.
backfull (Orygun)
The Trump kleptocracy was not able to legally eliminate public social, environmental and health care systems, so its members have done their best to make them inefficient. In the name of "killing the beast," federal agencies, and their counterparts in red states, have been understaffed and burdened with unworkable systems and procedures. What was just unscientific, illogical and cruel in normal times has morphed into an unmanageable economic crisis thanks o their lack of vision.
AC Jones (Pennsylvania)
A $10 million loan for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants? Seriously? If they need that much, they were already in trouble, before COVID-19.
OT (NY)
The government's handling of the release of these funds has been nothing short of useless. Businesses had no choice but to lay off millions because access to the bailout money is nearly impossible. And there are some here who will argue we should increase government control..
Jack (Portland, OR)
Any business owner who's ever howled about the evils of socialism should be prohibited from getting taxpayer assistance. Apparently socialism isn't bad when it benefits business owners. The forgivable loan program is so badly structured that a business doesn't even have to be harmed by this crisis to get the loan, and the ease with which businesses can avoid using that money for its intended purpose (paying employees) is obvious. Yes, many business owners will use the loans to pay their employees, but many others won't, and they know there won't be repercussions. Just take the money and use however you see fit. How does a man (Mr. Cameron) who has more than 21 restaurants with 4000 workers qualify for a forgivable loan as a small business? Obviously SBA counts each restaurant as a separate business, but that's wrong and everyone knows it. And he has the nerve to say he's not asking for a handout? A forgivable loan, by definition, is a handout. Also, he's wrong when he says there won't be a restaurant industry without this aid; there will be, although it might be owned by a different set of entrepreneurs than now. But that's the way a free market's supposed to work.
S. Stoner (Monterey)
@Jack There are two SBA loans. The PPP is for small businesses with under 500 people. He might qualify because he laid off almost all his employee so he now has under 500. Congress did not address this issue so it is up for grabs. He also could be applying for a SBA disaster loan, with has the higher limit and is not forgivable. Both the PPP and the disaster loan carry a 4% interest rate for a maximum of 4 years.
John (New York)
Isn't this all about perceptions? The government isn't willing to acknowledge that we are in a depression. There is no 'light switch' to flip. Millions of people are unemployed now and millions more will be unemployed after the virus is gone. America has been on a credit binge fueled by free money. Those obligations aren't going away. The business models that were once viable in a vibrant economy are no longer valid in a depression. The law of supply and demand will determine what businesses survive, not pumping money into 'ghost businesses'. The government is, in effect , 'kicking the can' just as it did in every other economic crises. The government has never addressed the fundamental flaws of greed and corruption that have underpinned every past recovery. The rich get richer and the rest try to survive. Evidently it is willing once more, to ignore reality, and ultimately place the country in greater jeopardy. The ultimate question for America to decide is how much longer they are willing to ride this roller coaster.
Geo (New York)
@John Thank you for your sanity but as De Torqville said " I suppose it will all be over when the people finally realize they are being bribed with their own money".... sadly its not even money anymore as its debt now!!
A.A.F. (New York)
The virus has clearly illustrated that in the great economy Trump has been bragging about for the past 3 years, not only were Americans living paycheck to paycheck but so were businesses.
Geo (New York)
@A.A.F. Obama admin was so much better.... Just put the record amount of debt and the record inequality aside and focus on his "coolness"
ArtSpring (New Hampshire,USA)
@Geo Record amount of debt under Obama? Trump put that to shame in his first two years (or doesn't that matter?). Seems you have the same ODS that Trump has. Put aside your Randian dystopia for a few minutes, will ya?
Jess (Salt Lake City, UT)
I have bee shocked by how relatively little reporting there has been of the real and severe pain people will suffer from losing jobs and businesses. The lifeblood of our country has been people who are willing to take entrepreneurial risk-to invest their heart and sole as well as their capital and probably friends and family money into creating something that provides goods or services for value. Many of those people and the employees that work with them will be crushed by this. Not only that, but underserved communities may be left without the few businesses in the neighborhood that they rely on. To be clear I am a democrat, I have donated time and money to democratic campaigns and causes my whole life. However, on this one, I am not so sure stay at home was well considered. Yes having people die for want of a ventilator would be awful but have we fully considered the awfulness of tens of millions unemployed in a country where most live paycheck to paycheck? Have we considered the pain of workers left with no way to feed their families other than waiting for hours in line at food banks? It may not kill the body but it could certainly kill the spirit.
Wayne (Brooklyn, New York)
@Jess what you are suggesting might come down to the biblical story of Noah and his ark. Take, for example where I live in NYC, so many people forced like cattle onto the trains in the mornings then evenings. Each up in the other's face. I seriously think that is one reason why NYC has the most cases in the world. Look at California with twice the population of the state of New York yet only a few cases and not as many deaths. California, even though it's densely populated in some areas, does not have the mass transit like we do. Many people commute in their own vehicles. Also they got a head start when they quarantined people on military bases returning from China. They knew what was coming. In New York people who are American citizens said they got off the planes and no one asked them anything. Also from Italy the hot zone in Europe. Now they are saying that the virus that hit NY really most likely came from Europe not China. If we go along with what you suggest we will overwork the health care system. I went to the supermarket early this morning and passed the the hospital near where I live. They attended another refrigerator morgue to the one they already have sitting on the street outside the hospital. BTW we have been getting more deaths due to prior infections but less admissions to the hospitals due to coronavirus infections. That means stay-at-home is working. If we let up and let people go back to work our health care system will collapse. Means more mass burials.
Jess (Salt Lake City, UT)
@Wayne I completely understand your point and it has been well reported. I suggest only that the issues warrant consideration of diverse views and perhaps may support a more localized approach. The polarizing of the public debate is not constructive.
Wayne (Brooklyn, New York)
@Steve some of what you say is untrue. "A study by Imperial College London estimated that 3.1% of the Swedish population was infected (as of March 28) -- compared to 0.41% in Norway and 2.5% in the UK. As for deaths, by April 8, coronavirus accounted for 67 fatalities per 1 million Swedish citizens, according to the Swedish Health Ministry. Norway had 19 deaths per million, Finland seven per million. The number of deaths rose 16% on Wednesday." https://www.bing.com/search?q=sweden+coronavirus&qs=FT&pq=sweden&sc=8-6&cvid=FC16E44D9FF840938E8D295AEA9A062D&FORM=CHRDEF&sp=1 Sweden did not have any ban on people visiting nursing homes. Now the rate of infection in nursing homes climbed. People were not going to die anyway as you say. The only reason they died is because they came in contact with someone spreading the virus. By flattening the curve means the virus will not be spread around. It also means those who are affected will either shows symptoms of being affected or be silent carriers; that's where people need to be tested. Herd immunity only comes about when people contracted the virus and build immunity. We learned that there was no permanent immunity to SARS...lasted about 10 months only. This virus is not like chicken pox where you let kids play with each other so they could contract it to build immunity. It can put you in the hospital or put you in a morgue. Sweden has about 7 times the infection rate as their neighboring country, Norway.
george eliot (annapolis, md)
Gee, I guess that's why I haven't gotten SecTreas Munchkin's disaster check yet, that was being direct deposited yesterday.
S. Snow (Cumming, Georgia)
all you need to know is that the Bankster..got that moniker for a very good reason.
Steve Beck (Middlebury, VT)
@S. Snow "I'm from the Bank and I am here to help" said Ronald Ray-gun.
tav gauss (north carolina)
Benefits coming too late? how about not at all?
RLW (Chicago)
This could have been much less severe if we had a real leader as POTUS who early on proactively put the federal government in charge of stopping the spread of this virus and prepared for the onslaught of the effects of a major epidemic as soon as he was made aware of the impending danger. Instead we had an incompetent political adolescent who went about calling the impending epidemic a "Hoax" and refusing to take appropriate action for fear of spooking the "markets" and endangering his re-election chances. With Trump everything in this world is all about Trump. Of all the possible humans who might have been in charge of the U.S. Government's response to a global pandemic the Electoral College chose the absolutely most incompetent.
Geo (New York)
@RLW Is this the time for partisan rhetoric?.... Perhaps you would be better off not bloviating bias but instead helping those in need out instead of expecting the govt to do it.... Govt doesnt exist to help you but rather to give you an opportunity to help yourself and your fellow man out....Sadly JFK has been forgotten by the new socialist govt dependency mentality
George S (New York, NY)
@Geo The government was created and made subject to the sovereignty of the American people. The Preamble of our constitution reads, “ We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare...”. These are not merely warm fuzzy words, they have real meaning and import that drives the existence of governance. Given the depth and scope of the situation we now find ourselves in fits perfectly in with the need to insure our collective domestic tranquility and general welfare. In a large, industrial action such as ours, individuals are ill-equipped to just “helping those in need”. As a regular (ie, not wealthy, powerful or connected) citizen I am powerless to provide PPE’s or ventilators where needed, I cannot help out shuttered businesses with loans, I cannot insure national supply chains and emergency resources are fulfilled and staffed. The list goes on and on. Yes, all Americans should (and many, many do) help out locally as best they can. But it is precisely for this type of nationwide, devastating situation that we rely upon, nay, DEMAND, that the government we support and fund step up and do what we cannot. Platitudes about partisanship, “bloviating boas”, etc. are nothing but cover for those in charge who are failing to do their jobs. Contrary to your post, our government DOES EXIST to help its citizens when urgently needed!
Ma (Atl)
@RLW Say what you will, you have every right to your opinion. However, you can find anywhere on the Internet, even Snopes, that the current president never called the pandemic or coronavirus a hoax. "President Donald Trump likened the Democrats' criticism of his administration's response to the new coronavirus outbreak to their efforts to impeach him, saying "this is their new hoax."
Opinioned! (NYC)
I’ve been tuning in to the BBC as early as January and I am seeing that the American lockdown or shelter in place or stay at home or self-quarantine is not working if you compare it with Asian and European and Arab countries whose citizens need a pass to go out and could only go out for only food and/or meds—and only one per household at that. Violators are either fined or imprisoned or both. Last February, the BBC reported that the US is 3 weeks behind Italy. When the American lockdown commenced last March it was but a mere suggestion—and it remains to be so. Just look at the park picnickers in New York, the spring breakers in Miami, the churchgoers in South Carolina, Alabama, New Hampshire, etc. We could be two months behind Italy at the way we do our lockdown the American way. And now when the infection rate is nowhere near its peak, talks of “reopening the US” because the moneyed class are losing their moolah is being peddled. Here’s the thing: rushing back to work will only make it worse. Look at the resurgence in Asia especially in Singapore, the most germaphobe country on this Earth. Also, the economy will not bounce back when the workers are sick. This virus, while deadly, is easily defeated: 14 days of no one getting out and it fails to find a host and then it dies. But only a few Americans are taking this 14 days seriously and now a lot are suffering.
LV LaHood (Lawrenceville,NJ)
Bernie Sanders was a man three months ahead of his time. From the airline industry to the hometown florist, we’re all socialists now. And by the way, what does it mean now to keep your healthcare plan when you can’t keep your job?
Geo (New York)
@LV LaHood We are all socialists now...and thats why we are economically collapsing....
Candlewick (Ubiquitous Drive)
@LV LaHood Indeed. Very few are capable of paying the entire amount of their employer-provided health insurance under COBRA. Our president has also refused to re-open enrollment under ACA even though insurers fully expected him to do so.
DataDrivenFP (California)
@LV LaHood Meanwhile, Scalia, the Secy of "Labor" is busily finding ways to limit eligibility and duration of unemployment benefits. Wouldn't want the poor people to get too used to eating, now. It's not good to have them too well fed. It makes them lazy. Also sleeping outside is good. It gives them some motivation. /s https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/10/labor-secretary-eugene-scalia-faces-blowback-he-curtails-scope-worker-relief-unemployment-crisis/#comments-wrapper
CSP (Georgia)
Like so many things in Washington DC, the PPP was a decent idea poorly executed. The reliance upon the private banking industry to push these loans out has been a disaster. My own long-standing bank, Bank of America, initially balked at providing a PPP application as our nonprofit business did not have a "lending" relationship with them, only a 14-year banking relationship. They then reversed course, but not soon enough to prevent us from being at the back of a very long line. We have been paying our employees for three weeks now out of savings. This cannot go on much longer and they will soon join the ballooning unemployment lines. Why the Treasury Department, which knows exactly how much my payroll is each week, could not actively push out funds to legitimate, tax-paying businesses without involving the private banking industry is beyond me. Maybe next time....
Michael (Massachusetts)
@CSP The Government could not push funds to your non-profit business directly, without involving the private banking industry, because the banking industry would lose an opportunity to profit. It is the same reason Republicans want to pas a bill to provide $250 Billion to small businesses, but have balked at also providing funds to State Governments, which have been largely on their own, and hospitals, most of which are non-profit. Republicans see businesses as job creators, which I think we can all agree is true, but they fail to see that Governments are job creators also, as are non-profit organizations, including hospitals. While they applaud front line workers in the pandemic as heroes, Republicans don't want to provide any financial assistance to these entities without passing it through the profit filter first. Profits over people - the Republican Way.
Thomas (Hollywood)
@Michael Perfectly put. GOP and Trumpoids can't have money reach the people who need it without the banksters getting their vig. Socialism is only good for Mnuchin's buddies.
Geo (New York)
@Michael Without profit you cant fund Medicare unless you believe in MMT and infinite debt and want to watch the debt defaults and the whole economy crumble...Econ 101
Sajidkhan (New York, NY)
The current situation created by the virus is unsustainable and even if the vrus is brought down employment will take a long time to return to normal. The only way is to keep the lockdown for the venerable and quarantine the sick. The shut down of the whole country has to be lifted for all those who are likely to get sick and recover. Temporary mild sickness for the majority will be a small price to pay verses the huge loss that will result in far greater unemployment. Inflation has already started. Yesterday I got garlic for $3.00 a pound when it used to be $1.00 a pound. Soon the goods will not just be more expensive they will be in short supply. This virus is like a flood which is affecting just the low lying areas. Yet we are treating it as if it is affecting the high lying areas too. One cure fits all is never the case in medicine. So why are we subjecting everyone to the same medicine? Yes many more will get the virus if the lockdown is lifted but the one's who have a strong immune system will suffer a short and affordable price. By staying at home they are paying an irreplaceable price themselves and costing lasting damage to the rest of the country. Locking down the whole country is causing more damage than what the country will suffer if they lockdown is more prudentially managed. In fact lifting the lockdown will save the total destruction of the economy. Our leaders are not weighing the real cost of the shutdown and the virus is hurting more than necessary
Michael (Massachusetts)
@Sajidkhan Sounds like, to you, people are expendable, but not profit.
Michelle (Richmond)
@Sajidkhan How are workers to go to work with a 'temporary mild sickness' when mild is considered the person doesn't end up in a hospital for days? A mild case can and will involve many days of fever, shortness of breath, not feeling well at all, and possible pneumonia. This isn't a bad cold or what many Americans call the flu when they mean food poisoning. It's nice you are offering up several thousands of people to die so the economy can come back. If you're bored, please come volunteer at one of our hospitals here. We have plenty of COVID patients you can help. The economy will come back, possibly/probably changed but so what? Take out the roaring stock markets and look at individual persons' situations; low benefits, low pay, working multiple jobs, gig economy, etc...the economy has been artificially propped up for years. No depression lasts forever, but death does. Don't be so quick to throw others under the bus.
Wilbray Thiffault (Ottawa. Canada)
Who would have thought that an invisible virus can do what nothing else could. Literally stops the economy almost completely. Even the crisis of 1929 could not do that. Nature in action!
Geo (New York)
@Wilbray Thiffault The virus didnt stop the economy. People's irrational fear did
Art Kjos (On The Road)
I object to the thought “abandoned their employees”. As a small business operator when cash flow ceases The is no money to pay employees. And guess what there is no fantasy pot of cash. The owners are still strapped with the costs of the business, the last thing they want to do is loose employees
Angel (Indiana)
@Art Kjos my job permanently closed for this very reason. We were already struggling but the pandemic drove the nail into the coffin.
Shawn (Boston, MA)
@Art Kjos I absolutely agree. That statement is a punch in the gut to small business owners. We, and so many we know, have reacted to the best-available, constantly changing information, as quickly as humanly possible. We released employees when it was clear there would be no cash flow. Not just to protect our investments, but hoping to put our employees at the front of the line when they go to claim unemployment benefits. We small business owners have shallow pockets. Rents rise. Taxes rise. Tariffs have wreaked havoc on our industry. All the while incomes are stagnate and buying power sags. Tell me: Who has been abandoned?
Michael (Asheville NC)
The GOP keeps shouting that they are reactionary only. Only after each job report will Mitch take any new actions. Only after we are in a great depression can we entertain helping workers. Only after all the small businesses start affecting the people who fund his elections will Mitch entertain helping. The scale is known to those of us who are the working class. The unemployment numbers are wrong because most folks cant even file yet. 6.6 million is what we can process per week, not the total. I'd expect 6 million a week for months if the government doesn't cover 80% of affected payrolls for every small business AND freeze debt until this is over. Its so obvious, gonna pull my hair out watching this inaction every day.
Katherine (Salem oregon)
The Old Testament speaks of every seven years having a Jubilee. debts are wiped clean, no one owes anyone and everyone gets a do-over. perhaps now would be the time for America to have a jubilee. instead of bailouts, pay off whatever debt is in people's credit reports. then start bailing out by giving companies whatever they paid taxes on for second quarter last year. this would give people breathing room, companies money to get through a quarter and we can all come out if the chaos in a better financial spot.
Geo (New York)
@Katherine The Jubilee is every 50 years for debt forgiveness....Slaves were released every 7 years
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