This crisis needs a New Deal
Traditional macroeconomic tools and models of circular flow will not work for this crisis. The economic disruptions are not driven by changes in aggregate demand or money supply. They are driven by specific epidemiological forces that command responses and targeted government policies that mandate adaptive behaviors.
We need to respond with selective, targeted, command style economic tools that direct funds specifically where needed: unemployed people losing income and health insurance, massive new investment in health care, and state and local governments providing essential services while losing essential funding.
Just sloshing money at the circular flow by sending everyone checks and juicing up business coffers whether they need funds or not won’t solve these massive but specific problems. It will create unsustainable debt and short term market distortions.
This call for the use of targeted command economy tools is not a call for Soviet communism or Venezuelan socialism. It is a call for a new version of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. It is not a call for the abolition of markets — it is a call for a very American, collaborative effort to make markets work by stepping in with public funds to do the things they can’t and help markets bounce back when they fail.
When Wall Street crashed in 1929, old neoclassical economic theory had to give way to the pragmatic, targeted relief and innovation of the New Deal. A century later, we are in the same kind of crisis, calling for analogous innovation.
Everyone in the state should have watched NOVA this week. If they haven’t, it should be a state requirement. After watching the show on COVID-19, every person in the state should take a quiz on the show. If they fail the quiz, they should not be allowed to leave their home.
This requirement should be mandatory for the White House too! People need to be informed about the real consequences of this pandemic before they leave home or storm their state governments!
Workers and their health
Let me get this straight: President Trump has ordered essential workers, particularly those working in high-risk food processing plants, to return to work. If they refuse, they could be ineligible for unemployment benefits, including health coverage at a time when they need it the most. This to me is one of the most unconscionable and cruel actions of the Trump administration.
Instead of protecting workers and their health, Republicans in Congress are exacerbating this unfair and inequitable system by continuing to push for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
When Sen. Susan Collins supported the GOP tax giveaway in 2017, she also voted to eliminate the ACA’s individual mandate. This change, of course, prompted the GOP to take legal action to invalidate the ACA. Collins’ fingerprints are here. If the Supreme Court overturns the ACA, how many Mainers will become uninsured during this pandemic? One estimate from the Urban Institute indicates that the increase will be 164%.
On May 6, President Trump repeated his rallying cry to overturn the ACA. In the middle of this pandemic, this reaches a level of cruelty unsurpassed by any president and his political party. Let’s not forget that Collins’ actions have enabled this situation. Does she deserve to be re-elected in November? I think not.
Vote by mail
With all the uncertainty and safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, would you consider voting by mail in the July 14 primary election, using an absentee ballot? Imagine the satisfaction of having time to consider the issues, ask and research questions, and vote from home.
All voters are eligible to vote absentee in Maine. Five states, overseas residents and the U.S. military have been using vote by mail with nearly glitch-free results. The military has used vote by mail successfully since the civil war.
It gives the post office business and increases voter turnout. You can request your ballot at maine.gov and find contact information for your town clerk. Let your voice be heard with a vote by mail.