REPORT: Policy priorities for the federal response to COVID-19’s economic fallout

As the coronavirus pushes the nation into a recession, the response by federal policymakers will determine the extent of the economic harm on families and small businesses. Only bold action to protect public health and household incomes, provide relief to small businesses, and buffer state and local budgets from painful cuts will allow Americans to weather the storm.

A new report by MECEP policy analyst James Myall outlines policy priorities for Congress and the Trump administration to limit the economic toll on Americans from the ongoing pandemic. Priorities discussed in the report include:

Protecting Americans’ health and economic security | Policy goals include:

    • expand paid leave
    • protect workers from retaliation if they use leave
    • freeze debt collections, student loan payments, and evictions

Prioritizing business relief on small firms, and tie federal funds to worker protections | Policy goals include:

    • focus federal aid on small businesses, which have less cash on hand to see them through extended closures and “stay home” orders
    • ensure relief funds are used to prevent layoffs and meet payroll
    • prohibit corporate bailouts from being used to enrich shareholders and corporate executives at the expense of workers

Buffering state and local budgets facing steep revenue losses | Policy goals include:

    • increase funding for Medicaid, which will see a surge in demand and comprises one-fifth of the state budget
    • safeguard federal funding for other essential state and local services

“While the record-breaking stimulus bill under consideration in Congress is a good start, we know that relief from the economic crunch will be a marathon, not a sprint,” Myall said. “More action will be needed at the federal level to ensure all American families and businesses can afford basics while the coronavirus puts our economy on deep freeze, and to ensure a speedy recovery is possible once the public health emergency subsides.”

Click here to read the full report.