More than $1 trillion is needed
We’re all familiar with the phrase, “A day late and a dollar short.”
What brought that to mind this week was the announcement by the Republicans in Washington of their $1 trillion economic pandemic plan that would supplement the $3 trillion bill that Congress passed last spring.
The original bill did a number of things, most notably increasing unemployment benefits by $600 per week for the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
That original plan also was notable for what it did NOT include, namely, funding for state and local governments whose tax revenues have all but evaporated thanks to the pandemic.
The new GOP plan reduces the unemployment benefit from $600 per week to $200 per week and provides little funding for cash-strapped state and local governments that already have been laying off their employees, with more to come.
By contrast, the Democratic plan — which was passed by the House of Representatives fully two month ago — calls for another $3 trillion that would continue the $600 weekly payments for the unemployed and provide much-needed funding to state and local governments.
There are two things that are undeniably clear as the pandemic rages in the months ahead : First, the national unemployment rate will remain in the range of Great Depression levels for the foreseeable future and second, state and local governments will be required to implement massive cutbacks in the months ahead without substantial financial assistance from the federal government.
The Republican plan significantly fails to address both of these looming crises. By contrast, the Democratic plan, which the Republicans have failed to discuss for two months, will alleviate the worst of the pandemic’s effects on the everyday lives of every American.
Or to put it another way, the Republicans are, “A month late and at least a trillion short,” and their inaction of the past two months is threatening both the economic and social stability of the country.
Schools must be safe to reopen
We will be the first to concede that we do not know what exactly must be done in order to reopen our state’s public schools safely in the face of the pandemic.
However, what we do know is that a large study in South Korea (which, by the way, has been a world model for suppressing the pandemic) has shown that children ages 10-19 are highly-efficient at transmitting the coronavirus to others, particularly the adults with whom they have contact.
As much as we would like to see our schools reopen for many reasons, it just does not seem possible to do so in a manner that safeguards not only the children, but also school personnel and the family members of the children.
Kids bring home plenty of germs and bugs from school even in the best of circumstances. It is inconceivable that we will be able to stop them from transmitting this highly-contagious virus if they return to school as usual in the fall. Maybe the experts have it all figured out — we can only pray that they do.