New MECEP report outlines policy priorities for federal response to COVID-19’s economic fallout

Scale and scope of relief from Congress, Trump administration will determine the human toll of the coronavirus-fueled recession

AUGUSTA, Maine — 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.

The Maine Center for Economic Policy on Thursday released a new brief outlining policy priorities for Congress and the Trump administration to limit the economic toll on Americans from the ongoing pandemic.

“While the record-breaking stimulus bill under consideration by Congress is a good start, we know that relief from the economic crunch will be a marathon, not a sprint,” said James Myall, a MECEP policy analyst and the report’s author. “More action will be needed at the federal level to ensure 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.”

Policy priorities outlined in MECEP’s report include:

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

    • strengthening and expanding income supports such as unemployment insurance, SNAP, and TANF
    • expanding paid leave
    • protecting workers from retaliation if they use leave
    • freezing debt collections, student loan payments, and evictions

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

    • focusing federal aid on small businesses, which have less cash on hand to see them through extended closures and “stay home” orders
    • ensuring relief funds are used to prevent layoffs and meet payroll
    • prohibiting 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:

    • increasing funding for Medicaid, which will see a surge in demand and comprises one-fifth of the state budget
    • safeguarding, not slashing, federal funding for other essential state and local services

Click here to read the full report.