Email from Robert Reich, 10 May 2020 (2)

Continuing the text from Robert Reich:

Epidemiologists estimate 90% of the deaths in the US from the first wave of Covid-19 might have been prevented had social distancing policies been put into effect two weeks earlier, on March 2nd.

No nation other than the US has left it to subordinate units of government – states and cities – to buy ventilators and personal protective equipment. In no other nation have such sub-governments been forced to bid against each other.

In no other nation have experts in public health and emergency preparedness been pushed aside and replaced by political cronies like Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who in turn has been advised by Trump donors and Fox News celebrities.

In no other advanced nation has Covid-19 forced so many average citizens into poverty so quickly. The Urban Institute reports that more than 30% of American adults have had to reduce their spending on food.

Elsewhere around the world, governments are providing generous income support. Not in the US.

At best, Americans have received one-time checks for $1,200, about a week’s worth of rent, groceries and utilities. Few are collecting unemployment benefits because unemployment offices are overwhelmed with claims.

Congress’s “payroll protection program” has been a mess. Because funds have been distributed through financial institutions, banks have raked off money for themselves and rewarded their favored customers. Of the $350 billion originally intended for small businesses, $243 million has gone to large, publicly held companies.

Meanwhile, the treasury and the Fed are bailing out big corporations from the debts they accumulated in recent years to buy back their shares of stock.

More tomorrow.

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