Coronavirus economic crisis: What more can the government do to help workers?

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This Japanese restaurant on Main St. in Culver City is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. March 18, 2020. Photo by Amy Ta/KCRW

President Trump today invoked a Cold War-era law to respond to the novel coronavirus: 

“I’ve also just invoked the Defense Production Act to help facilitate distribution of essential supplies if necessary. We’re working with Congress to provide major additional relief to the workers, small businesses, and the hardest-hit industries. We want to make sure that everybody is able to continue on, so that when we recover, all of these companies and these great businesses -- both very, very small and very, very large -- they’re not going to be broken up, and you’d have to put them back together. That would take a long time.”

There are now more than 10,000 reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. Trump also said his administration is trying to stop the economic hemorrhaging. The dramatic drop in the stock market has wiped out nearly three years of economic gains in a matter of weeks.

The White House has unveiled a $1 trillion stimulus package in response to COVID-19. They’re asking for $500 billion in direct payments to Americans, and another $500 billion in loans for businesses. 

Trump hopes to start sending checks in two weeks: $1200 for every adult and $500 for every child. That could be repeated in May if this crisis isn’t better by then.

Credits

Guests:
Ian Shepherdson - chief U.S. economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, which advises Wall Street firms and hedge funds, Megan McArdle - Washington Post - @asymmetricinfo

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Alexandra Sif Tryggvadottir, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin