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Thomas Gallatin / Mar. 17, 2020

Debating a COVID-19 Aid Package

Trump's task force issues new guidelines, while Congress debates how much to spend.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, it has become evident that the virus holds the most danger for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. In light of this, President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 task force yesterday called on Millennials in particular, those least likely to suffer significant negative health effects from the virus, to do their part in helping to stop its spreading. Speaking at a press conference, White House coronavirus task-force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx called Millennials the “core group that will stop the virus.” She added, “They are the group that communicates successfully independent of picking up a phone. They intuitively know how to contact each [other] without being in a large social gatherings.”

Millennials are the largest generation and the ones most likely to be out and about. Thus, Birx asserted, they are the ones most likely to spread COVID-19. Birx then admonished them: “We’re protecting the Greatest Generation right now, and the children of the Greatest Generation. And [Millennials] need to communicate with each other.”

Also on Monday, Trump released a set of new guidelines for Americans to follow titled “15 Days to Slow the Spread.” The guidelines encourage avoiding gatherings larger than 10 people, as well as staying away from “eating or drinking in restaurants, bars and food courts,” opting instead for “drive through, pickup and delivery options.” Trump noted, “If everyone makes … these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) called for the government to give every American adult $1,000 in an effort to mitigate the growing financial squeeze brought about by the pandemic. He’s the first Republican to propose something akin to former Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s “Universal Basic Income.” If the goal is to ensure Americans have more money during the COVID-19 crisis, however, a better idea would be enacting what Trump has called for — a temporary payroll-tax cut. That’s not great either, but there are no good options before us.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday proposed a $750 billion plan that “would boost hospital capacity, expand unemployment insurance, increase Medicaid funding, provide aid to small businesses, and grant immediate forbearance on federal loan payments,” as reported by National Review. “We will need big, bold, urgent federal action to deal with this crisis,” Schumer argued. The White House, meanwhile, pitched an $850 billion “stimulus” package.

Unfortunately, it’s almost always the case that politicians use crisis to expand the government’s role in everyone’s lives. Still, Washington politicos aren’t wrong about COVID-19 exacting a serious economic toll across the country. Especially hard hit have been restaurant workers, as Americans have heeded warnings and stayed home. We won’t know for months what the real economic cost will be.

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