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Coronavirus – What should the government be doing? What sorts of policies should we prioritize?

Claudia Sahm

I think there are two approaches that we need to see. One, there has to be a public health response. The federal government needs to put hundreds of billions of dollars out to public health. We need to see free testing available to individuals. We don’t want anybody that doesn’t have health insurance to avoid the doctor if they feel sick. And people who can’t work, for whatever reason, need to have paid family leave. They need to have their jobs protected.

But then you’d have the paychecks protected, too. We need federal government money that should be very specifically earmarked for people directly affected by the virus.

In addition, because we have this downward spiral taking hold, there needs to be support for consumers and businesses because everyone’s freaking out. The fact that no one knows who’s going to be affected is making it worse, so everyone is pulling back on their spending.

Sean Illing

The Trump administration is considering a payroll tax cut. Is that a good idea?

Claudia Sahm
It’s a terrible idea.

Sean Illing
Why?

Claudia Sahm

It doesn’t work. It’s too little and it’s not going to move fast enough. And I say this because in the last decade that I worked at the Federal Reserve Board as a forecaster, I tracked the effects of the payroll tax cut on households in real time and it doesn’t work well.

First of all, it comes out in dribs and drabs. You’re going to get a little bit in every paycheck. President Trump has talked about that little boost to paychecks happening through the end of the year. He doesn’t want a tax increase before the election. But households don’t need $25 in the next two weeks, or $50 in the next four weeks. They need $500 right now, because if you wait and you put it out in these little increments, it’s no good to people who end up losing their job or getting sent home without pay.

We have the ability, since the virus is not affecting broad areas of the country right now, to get ahead of it. If we can push out to these workers a sizable amount of money, then that gives them some financial cushion if they do end up being in this group of individuals who are directly affected.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Coronavirus: What is going on with the stock market? – Vox

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