Two indicators of leadership values: the relief bill in Congress & the decision to stay home or go back to work. Who do we listen to? Who do we protect? How do we decide? We will learn a good deal in the coming days but much is clear already.
Tonight: Jonathan Metzl wrote “Dying of Whiteness” a book recommended by one of our supporters, Greg Corning. Metzl studied Midwestern people who consistently vote against their own best interests – voting all the time for the elites’ interests. He’s giving a talk online today at 6 p.m. Mountain Time. RSVP via this link: Jonathan Metzl – “Dying of Whiteness” & more. It should be a good discussion given our recent writing about how rural America is dying due to those policies that undermine their economic interest.
Resource: “Things You Can Do to Fight Loneliness and Boredom While Self-Isolating.” This is a good set of recommendations from the State of NM website newmexico.gov
Action – Stay Calm, Sew On: Homemade masks needed by medical providers. La Familia Medical Clinic has issued a call to those who can sew and those who have a sewing machine, skills, and time. While handmade masks are not useful for those delivering direct medical treatment, they can be protective for those working in important support roles. And they are not available….unless folks use their skills and time to create these masks. Scroll toward the end of this post to find fabric requirements and links to video and other resources to help you. And let us know if you are going to take a stab at this. Write to RetakeResponse@gmail.com.
Trump, Coronavirus & the Perfect Storm: A Nuanced, Crisis Situation Managed by a None-Too-Smart Sociopath Narcissist. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
First, there is no question that this is an economic crisis of enormous magnitude. Everyone would agree that lifting lock-down and shelter-in-place policies would be welcome. But health experts uniformly indicate that if these restrictions are eliminated now or soon, the virus will accelerate out of control and overwhelm our medical system — with millions dying. I have seen no one with any credible medical background dispute this. And in breaking news, the World Health Organization just declared that the US will be the next epicenter to the pandemic while India has mandated that all 1.3 billion people in India remain inside their homes.
But capitalist America is about to show its colors as the GOP version of the stimulus package appears to be all about padding the profits of Wall St and protecting the wealth of the 1%, while the Democratic version–which certainly addresses Wall St– also offers significant relief for working and poor Americans. The chambers are in a stalemate said to be nearing resolution. How this relief package plays out will tell us a good deal about the ruling elite’s priorities. See bottom of post where a summary of the Democratic House proposal drafted by Rep. Maxine Waters is provided.
There is another decision on the horizon that will also demonstrate the priorities of the governing powers: when do we return to work? Here, we have a clear cut choice: listen to medical experts from throughout the world and stay home for at least another 3-4 weeks, at least OR listen to Fox News, the US Chamber of Commerce and corporate execs and get those workers back to their cogs. We aren’t making much money these days.
Truth is, most Americans could shelter in place for as long as needed with a proper relief package that addresses both the needs of working Americans who stay home and may lose income or their jobs and the needs of small business so they can restart operations once the pandemic has run out of steam.
In fact, a silver lining to this pandemic is that it is forcing many of us to revisit what it is like to just be, not to be breathlessly racing from one appointment, one shop, one task after another. This will be the fodder of a future post: what would America look and feel like if we had sensible workloads, sensible social supports, human-centered fiscal priorities, and political priorities that placed the needs of individuals and the planet in the center?
But today, we have a crisis on our hands, so first to the issue of returning to work. And here we should feel comforted by being led by an almost 100% unified public health community that says one and only one thing: stay home.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has been a beacon of candor and an antidote to Trump’s non-stop misinformation: insurance will cover tests and treatment – wrong; anyone in America who wants to be tested, can be tested – wrong; states have the resources to manage the lack of protection supplies on their own – wrong; China is at fault for not reporting to the world about the virus three months earlier – wrong.
The list is endless. And when you have a president spouting utter falsehoods that are not just controverted by his own experts, but by the growing experience of most of America, you begin to realize that our leadership can’t be trusted to make the right call….on anything. And so, our future may well be in the hands of the medical experts surrounding the president. And here we are lucky to have Dr. Fauci….for now.
In an interview published on Sunday in the journal Science, Dr. Fauci, described the challenges of working with the Trump administration during the coronavirus pandemic. In the interview, Fauci stated that off camera Trump listens to him and can be swayed. The interview also outlines how before each of the press conferences, medical experts surround the president for over an hour scripting his every word….then he goes off script and says just about anything. When asked how he felt when Trump would go off script and ad lib with utter falsehoods, he replied.
“I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time,” Fauci said.
However, Donald Trump doesn’t take kindly to advisers who offer him advice and guidance that doesn’t settle with his often misguided and misinformed instincts. Fauci can’t shadow Trump 24-7, and Trump has others he also listens to. There are reports that he has been fielding calls from the US Chamber of Commerce and other big business executives who are concerned about one and only one thing: making money. And the mandates for maintaining public health are compromising their profits.
Trump also listens to Fox News, and so Sunday night he was watching The Next Revolution, when host Steve Hilton commented that Dr. Fauci preferred “overreacting” to a pandemic. Hilton went on to say that it was “easy for him [Fauci] to say [stay home]” because the doctor will still have a job no matter what. “Our ruling class and their TV mouthpieces—whipping up fear over this virus,” he added. “They can afford an indefinite shutdown, working Americans can’t, they’ll be crushed by it.”
Later in the broadcast, Hilton stated that “the cure can’t be worse than the problem.” Just a couple hours later, Trump tweeted.
WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”Trump Tweet 12:30 am Monday
Donald Trump has made a habit of ignoring his advisers (those who actually understand finance, healthcare, pandemics, the climate crisis…) and going on his own, often misguided, but now deranged instincts. Now, despite by being surrounded by people who have devoted their lives to healthcare and disease control, Trump is apparently listening to Fox at midnight to form his thinking. And with Fauci’s patience running on empty and his frustration with Trump being expressed publicly, we should worry that he will be deposed, with Steve Hilton selected to lead the CDC. I am only half kidding. Trump just appointed the attorney and lobbyist for Safari Club Intl., an animal trophy hunting advocacy group, to lead our wildlife protection efforts. Anything can happen in Trumpland.
As a reminder of what is at stake, click here for an interactive map of CDC projections by state. It projects the number of deaths in America, depending upon which public health policy we follow: doing nothing (apparently Trump’s current thinking); a loose “Texas-style” shelter in place (in place in NM until today); shelter in place (as proposed now by our governor); and Wujan-style lock down (as approximated now in California, Washington, New York and an increasing number of other states). The difference is staggering. Millions will die if we return to work soon. And yet, our president feels profits trump people.
And why is so important to “flatten the curve?” In the video below, Dr. Emily Porter does the math, giving an optimistic projection in every instance, and arrives at the staggering conclusion that 98% of those who would need a ventilator in the country would not be able to get one. And they would die. This is very scary….and Trump is considering stopping the only tool we have to reduce these projections: patience and remaining home.
And then there is Congress and the debate on a virus relief and economic stimulus package. Here we will see the priorities of our leadership. Given the fluidity of the process and the scope of the bills (the Senate version is 250 pages and the House version is over 1,400 pages), it is impossible to tease out the details, details that could change any moment. But Politico does a good job of laying out the differences. Click here to read the Politico analysis.
And according to Vox, the main issue separating the Democrat and House versions is:
The main hang-up on the bill is Democrats’ objection to $500 billion that would go to big companies and industries hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. As the bill is currently written, much of the use of that money would be under the discretion of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Democrats want rules and regulations around the funds to direct them to the workers — not CEOs.”Vox: ” The Senate impasse over the massive $1.8 trillion coronavirus stimulus, explained”
But Politico‘s piece points to far more differences than that: “The House measure would boost emergency funds for agencies, mandate “green” rules for airlines, eliminate a payroll tax suspension, kick in additional help for hospitals, schools and food banks, and more.” These differences are huge, as states at the forefront of the crisis are facing immediate and critical shortages of ventilators, protective equipment, and testing capacity and so Democratic increases in emergency funds is a huge improvement on the Senate bill.
Time will tell how this plays out, but the seeds were sown long ago, creating the conditions in which we are finding ourselves, completely over-matched by the virus. Truthout (once again) published a piece about how a Medicare for All system would have been far better equipped for this moment, while also acknowledging that it is not the medical system but the public health system that is the first responder now. And decades of budget cuts have left us with the current absence of public health capacity.
The debate over Medicare for All in the age of Covid-19 is complicated by the fact that it is our public health agencies – and not the medical care system – that serve as our first line of defense against novel epidemics. In that regard, we’ve shot ourselves in the foot with a 12-gauge shotgun: year after year of underfunding of our federal, state and local public health agencies has left us ill-prepared for the Covid-19 challenge (as evidenced by the testing fiasco). How we finance medical care, however, is also critical. On the most basic level, containing the coronavirus will require those infected to seek medical care, so that they can be diagnosed and isolated. Fear of devastating ER or hospital bills, however, could keep some home – or at work. As a Taiwan government spokeswoman, lauding her country’s single-payer system for its successful containment of Covid-19, told NBC News, “Taiwan’s health insurance lets everyone not be afraid to go to the hospital. If you suspect you have coronavirus, you won’t have to worry that you can’t afford the hospital visit to get tested.”Truthout: “The Virus of Capitalism Has Infected the COVID-19 Fight”
Truthout goes on to lay out an argument for having a government-run public health system, how the profit incentive in the medical and public health systems undermines efforts to actually deliver public health in favor of delivering private profit. It also underscores how the claim that government can’t be trusted emerged with Reagan in the 70s and has infected public discourse to such a degree that private sector solutions are favored in almost all instances to public sector governance of systems and services.
Retake agrees with Truthout, that far more of what America needs must be delivered through public systems, not a private sector driven by a thirst for profit. And hopefully, this is one of the oh-so-costly lessons learned from this pandemic.
With thirty million Americans without insurance of any kind and millions more likely to lose their coverage as they lose their jobs, they are ill-prepared to cover the costs of testing and treatment. While Trump announced that HE had brokered a deal with the health insurance industry to cover all testing and treatment, his claim was quickly rebutted by the health insurance industry indicating: testing yes, treatment, not so fast: there is money to be made there.
Truthout gets at the crux of the matter and returns me to my opening comment: the pandemic will tell us a good deal about who we are as a nation and hopefully a good deal about what we should become.
The priority of the people (for the most part) is to stay safe, to get well if they fall ill, and to do what must be done to eventually return to some semblance of a normal life. The priority of the capitalists is to get the money machine going again, to take full advantage of the crisis in the name of profit, and to defend their well-staked financial turf from any reforms that may be proposed in the aftermath.
U.S.-style capitalism is also a virus, and it has infected every aspect of this situation. Worker safety, insurance coverage and costs, medical preparedness, and vital supplies — even the bill intended to rescue the country from some final financial calamity: All have been perverted and disrupted by the profit motive that never, ever, ever sleeps.”Truthout: “The Virus of Capitalism Has Infected the COVID-19 Fight”
Hang on, friends. We are in for a rough ride at best and millions dying a solitary death in hospital hallways at worst. I wish I had an “action” that actually makes sense other than to stay home. Ideas?
Paul & Roxanne
Sewing instructions and a summary of a Democratic House version of relief follow.
STAY CALM AND SEW ON!
SEW FACE MASKS for our FRONTLINE HEALTHCARE WORKERS!
If you can sew, you can help healthcare workers continue their critical work. Sew surgical masks and donate them to local health clinics and more. We can do this – check sewing baskets, find your fabric scraps, and tell crafty friends. Below are patterns and instructions with several variations.
Let’s sew masks and have them ready when our healthcare workers need them.
Thanks Deb for this great resource list!
FIND YOUR LOCAL HEALTHCARE CLINICS & OFFER MASKS
For examplehere in New Mexico, La Familia Medical Center is requesting masks now. You can make masks and mail to/drop off at: La Familia Medical Center, 1035 Alto Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501.
INSTRUCTIONS, PATTERNS, VIDEOS and TIPS
Pattern for sizes of mask: https://www.owensborohealth.org/app/files/public/25436/face-mask-pattern.pdf
Instructions and resources: https://www.joann.com/make-to-give-response/
Easy-follow instructions w/ pdf and video: https://www.deaconess.com/How-to-make-a-Face-Mask
Video – basic instructions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL9D6ZFtZHM
Video – Bias tape surgical mask with flexible nose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRdpEqwuF_0
Written instructions: https://sweetredpoppy.com/how-to-sew-a-bias-tape-surgical-face-mask-with-flexible-nose/
Video – Alternatives to elastic ear loop fasteners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kwFaRFHKhY
Tighter-fitting mask: https://freesewing.org/blog/facemask-frenzy/
Face-mask pattern: https://freesewing.org/fu-facemask-freesewing.org.a4.pdf
One health center offers these tips, please READ before you start:
- Recommended fabric for the outer portion of the mask includes heaver, non-stretch fabric such as denim, duck cloth, canvas, twill, or other tight woven fabrics.
- Recommended fabric for the inner lining and filter pocket can be other cotton, cotton-blend non-stretch fabric. It can be thinner and softer, but again recommended minimal or non-stretch.
- Launder fabric in HOT water & dry fully in dryer BEFORE sewing to prevent future shrinkage.
- Use unscented detergent, no fabric softener or dryer sheets please.
- Polyester or other less breathable fabric will not work, due to moisture from breathing.
- If reusing fabric, it must be clean and in good shape. Worn or dirty fabric will not be protective.
- Elastic should be in good shape, with plenty of stretch and of an appropriate size to fit over the ears. 1/16 inch round cord or 1/8 inch braided work best.
- Fabric ties can be sewn on the mask – 4 ties (one tie on each of the 4 corners). Ties should be approx. ¼ inch in width, sewn so there are no frayed edges, and long enough to be tied into a bow on the top of the head for the top corners and behind the head for the bottom corners.
PROPOSALS TO HELP THE ECONOMY DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS
Protecting Consumers and Bolstering the Economy
- At Least $2,000/month for All Adults and $1000 for Each Child. The Federal Reserve would be directed through a money-financed fiscal program, to fund automatic stabilizers in the form of at least $2,000 for every adult and an additional $1000 for every child for each month of the crisis. Adults would be eligible to withdraw these funds from financial institutions or receive them directly in the mail via the IRS. This funding tool would enable the Federal Reserve to more directly stimulate the economy and provide families with the ability to purchase necessities like food and medicines. This provision would also prevent payments from going to millionaires and billionaires.
- Suspend All Consumer and Small Business Credit Payments (mortgages, car notes, student loans, credit cards, small business loans, personal loans, etc.) during the pandemic. This bold step would enable consumers and small businesses, including small farms, to weather the crisis by eliminating debt payments for the duration of the crisis at a time when many Americans will be confined to their homes and unable to work or bring in income. Borrowers who make payments during this period, should have their payments applied to their accounts as timely. Borrowers with payment suspensions should not accrue any interest or fees during the payment suspension period, and should be provided with affordable options to repay arrearages.
- Establish a Facility by the Federal Reserve or Treasury to Reimburse Creditors, and Servicers for Lost Revenue and Expenses, Including Payment Advances. This provision would finance the suspension of the credit products listed above to ensure that financial institutions remain solvent as a result of millions of consumers not paying their bills.
- Suspend All Negative Consumer Credit Reporting During the Pandemic. There would be a total moratorium on negative reporting during the pandemic and for 120 days thereafter. Afterwards, consumers could add their names to a database for continued protection, similar to Chairwoman Waters’ legislation related to suspending reporting during a government shutdown. In addition, consumer credit reporting agencies would be prohibited from lowering a consumer’s credit score. Rep. Sherman introduced a version of this bill last week, and the House passed similar legislation focused on consumers affected by a government shutdown as part of H.R.3621, Comprehensive CREDIT Act of 2020.
- Prohibit Debt collection, Repossession, and Garnishment of Wages During the Pandemic. This provision would ban the collection of all consumer debt, including medical debt, and prohibit the garnishment of wages or repossession of assets during the pandemic, and for 120 days after the pandemic ends.
- Ensure Protections for Territories. This provision would ensure that persons residing in U.S. 2 Territories receive the same protections and relief of this Act as persons residing in states. Support for Renters, Homeowners, and People Experiencing Homelessness
Support for Renters, Homeowners, and People Experiencing Homelessness
- Provide $5 billion in Emergency Homeless Assistance. This funding would enable state and local governments to finance housing and health related services including by paying for emergency use of hotels and motels, for the hundreds of thousands of people currently experiencing homelessness, and as a result, are at greater risk of contracting the disease.
- Ban All Evictions, Foreclosures, and Repossessions–Including Manufactured Homes, RVs, and Cars Nationwide. Because businesses are closing and many people do not have access to unemployment insurance or paid sick leave, an eviction and foreclosure ban is needed to ensure that people can safely quarantine in their homes, if necessary. Vehicles should not be repossessed during the pandemic as Americans will need their transportation in order to obtain food or medical care. A foreclosure moratorium should include a ban on initiating judicial or non-judicial foreclosures, moving for order of sale, continuing any foreclosure process, or executing foreclosure sales and post-foreclosure evictions. Los Angeles County is among several jurisdictions that have already instituted a ban on evictions.
- Suspend Rental and Utility Payments for Assisted Renters and Provide Rental and Utility Payment Assistance for Non-Assisted Renters. The Federal government should immediately suspend rental and utility payments for Federal public and assisted housing residents to ensure they have the financial resources necessary to address the expected economic hardships of the crisis. The Federal government should provide sufficient funding for housing providers to account for this loss of revenue as well as increased administrative costs associated with mitigating COVID-19 risks in assisted housing developments. Similarly, the Federal government should provide $100 billion to help non-assisted renters who meet certain economic conditions cover their rent and utility payments.
- Require Forbearance for Mortgages on Rental Properties. To the extent that owners of rental properties continue to have trouble servicing their debt during the suspension of rental and payment and evictions even with the rental assistance fund, they should get forbearance on their mortgages as necessary. The National Community Stabilization Fund, National Multifamily Housing Council, and National Apartment Association support this proposal.
- Provide $10 billion for Community Development Block Grants. This funding will allow state and local governments to have a flexible resource to address the needs of their communities when mitigating the impacts of COVID-19, including establishing teams to perform mobile testing of vulnerable populations, such as people experiencing homelessness, delivering meals to people with mobility issues, and purchasing cleaning supplies. The federal government should waive the cap on the amount of CDBG funds that can be spent on services, including for funds that have previously been appropriated, to allow communities more flexibility to respond to COVID-19.
- Provide Waivers and Authorities to Modify Existing Programs to Respond to the Crisis. The federal government should enable communities, and housing and homeless service providers to tap into current resources to quickly respond to COVID-19 by providing the necessary waivers and authorities to utilize federal funds that have previously been appropriated, including unused CDBG funds. Federal housing programs should also be modified as necessary to ensure appropriate responses to the pandemic. For example, in-person inspection requirements should be waived for the Housing Choice Voucher program, as should in-person appraisal requirements for 3 federally backed mortgages.
- Suspend the Work and Community Service Requirements in Federal Housing Programs. This provision would suspend the work and community service requirements in Federal housing programs for the duration of the crisis to ensure residents do not feel compelled to go to work or participate in other activities to keep their housing.
- Provide $300 million for Servicer Coordinators to Assist Elderly Households. The Service Coordinator Grant program funds the work of service coordinators to support seniors and people with disabilities living in HUD-assisted housing, and will need additional funding to ensure medical and other services are provided to elderly residents who are the most vulnerable to the health impacts of the virus.
- Provide $290 million for Fair Housing Enforcement. $90 million to ensure that fair housing organizations as well as state and local agencies have sufficient resources to deal with an expected increase in fair housing complaints and to investigate housing discrimination, including financial scams that target protected classes, which are already starting to occur. $200 million to ensure that HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity has sufficient resources to ensure robust enforcement of the Fair Housing Act in light of the pandemic, including ensuring that funding amounts in this relief package are implemented in a way that affirmatively furthers fair housing. Assistance to Small Businesses
Support for Small Business
- Suspension of Commercial Rental Payments by Private Sector Actors. This would support small businesses and non-profit organizations that are struggling with the decision to stay open in the face of significant changes in public and consumer demand and with paying their bills.
- Support Additional Grants for Small Businesses. This provision would support at least $50 billion in new grants for the Small Business Administration to provide to negatively affected small businesses, including minority- and women-owned small businesses. (Small Business Committee)
- Tax Rebates for Small Businesses. This provision would rebate 100% of pay roll taxes paid by small businesses this year, and 200% of pay roll taxes paid by small businesses in “hot spots.” (Ways and Means Committee)
- Utilize the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to support small businesses as well as low-income communities. This provision would provide a supplemental appropriation of $500 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, and similar to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, matching funds and limitations on awards would be waived to provide flexibility in deploying resources to vulnerable populations and impacted small businesses.
Support to State, Territory, and Local Governments
- Support State, Territory, and Local Government Financing. This provision would authorize a program that requires the Federal Reserve to support state, territory, and local debt issuance in response to the coronavirus outbreak given the critical role these governments are playing.
- Waive Matching Requirements for Municipal Governments. This provision would waive the requirement that state, territory or local governments first obtain matching funds prior to receiving certain federal grants.
Facilitating the Mobilization of Essential Health and Safety Supplies
- Additional Funding for Emergency Production of Medical Supplies. This provision would appropriate an additional $1 billion for FY 2020 to the Defense Production Act fund, which can be used to prioritize the domestic production capacity for goods such as personal protective equipment and vaccines to bolster government efforts to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Protect Financial Stability and Transparent Markets
- Disclose Supply Chain Disruption Risk. This provision would require the SEC to implement a rulemaking that would require public companies to identify and disclose risks in their global supply chains; the impacts a supply chain disruption would have on their workforce, suppliers, and customers; and to develop and disclose contingency plans they will take to mitigate these risks and impacts.
- Disclose Global Pandemic Risk. Mandate the SEC to implement a rulemaking that would require public companies to publicly disclose their risks and exposures to public health events that the World Health Organization classifies as “pandemics,” and the steps they are taking to mitigate these risks and exposures. This would provide clarity to market participants and would have the effect of codifying SEC Chairman Clayton’s guidance stating that “how companies plan and respond to the events as they unfold can be material to an investment decision.”
- No Federal Rulemaking During the Crisis. Federal financial regulators would be prohibited from adopting rules not directly related to responding to the coronavirus for the length of the crisis.
- Temporary Ban on Stock Buybacks and Dividends. This provision would impose a temporary ban on corporate stock repurchase activities and paying dividends until the impacts of the coronavirus on the American financial system have ended to ensure that companies are using their excess cash to pay workers, shore up their bottom lines, and invest in their communities.
- Promoting Responsible Use of Government Assistance to Corporations. This provision would require large corporate beneficiaries of government assistance to comply with restrictions on executive compensation, golden parachutes, stock buybacks, and dividend payments. In addition, such corporations would be required to make additional human capital disclosures, environmental, social and governance disclosures, and political campaign contribution disclosures. Finally, such companies would be required to publicly describe how the financial assistance provided to the company was used to support the company’s employees.
- Support Global Economic Cooperation.
- o Authorize the Administration’s requests to participate in the replenishments of two concessional windows at the multilateral development banks—the 19th replenishment of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA-19), to which the U.S. has pledged $3 billion; and the fifteenth replenishment of the African Development Fund (AfDF-15), to which the U.S. has pledged $514 million.
- o Authorize the Administration’s request for the U.S. to participate in the 7th general capital increase for the African Development Bank, to which the U.S. has pledged approximately $437 million of paid-in capital.
- o Authorize the Administration’s request to double the U.S. commitment to IMF’s emergency backstop facility, known as the New Arrangements to Borrow, or NAB (from $39 billion to approximately $78 billion), in order to provide additional resources to the IMF in the event of a major financial crisis or to deal with exceptional situations that pose a systemic threat. Early authorization of the U.S. commitment to this agreement would demonstrate U.S. support for 5 global financial stability and also send a positive signal to shareholders and to the markets that developing countries will be supported during a global downturn.
PROPOSALS TO REBUILD ECONOMY POST-COVID-19
- Pass H.R. 5187, the Housing Is Infrastructure Act. This provision would support $100 billion in infrastructure spending to support the long-term availability of affordable housing.
- Reauthorize the State Small Business Credit Initiative. This provision would provide $10 billion to promote recovery post-pandemic. This program was initially created in 2010 to support small businesses in the wake of the 2008 recession and provides states with grants to finance new and existing small business growth.
- Forgive a Minimum of $10,000 of Student Loan Debt for Each Indebted Borrower. While Trump announced that he will waive interest on student loans during the crisis, without a reduction in principal, student loan borrowers will continue to struggle to make payments, jeopardizing a fragile economic recovery. Forgiveness of this debt will stimulate the economy by freeing up funds that borrowers would have spent on debt service. Now, these funds could be spent on goods and services, allowing millions of people to support our nation’s small businesses and jumpstart the economy.
- Minimize the Economic Impacts on Women, Minorities and Diverse-Owned Businesses. This provision would provide financial literacy education and access to banking services for unbanked women and minorities; require companies to publicly report their board diversity and their spending with diverse asset managers; create lending and capital opportunities focused on diverse owned businesses, including supporting minority depository institutions (MDIs) by passing H.R. 5322, the Ensuring Diversity in Community Banking Act (Meeks), and requiring the Federal Reserve to temporarily provide zero percent interest rate loans to MDIs and CDFIs. This provision would also establish a new technical assistance facility for MDIs and Impact Banks to support investments into technology and branch expansion, similar to a program available to credit unions. This provision would also provide the Minority Business Development Agency $3 billion to support full implementation of the Initiative to Build Growth Equity Funds for Minority Businesses. Immediate funding of the Initiative will allow the grant awardee to quickly respond to capital needs of minority businesses that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 health crisis.
- Pandemic Risk Insurance Act. This provision would create a reinsurance program similar to the Terrorism Risk Insurance act for pandemics, by capping the total insurance losses that insurance companies would face. This is a request from the National Retail Federation.
- Reinstate the FHA-FFB Partnership. This Partnership was an Obama-era initiative that supports financing for affordable multifamily housing that was arbitrarily discontinued under the Trump Administration. Advocate and industry stakeholders support requiring HUD to reinstate this Partnership to help stimulate the economy in response to the pandemic.
- National Strategy. This provision would update the 2017 “Pandemic Influenza Plan” and the National Planning Frameworks to add the requirement that preparedness and recovery planning include a pre-crisis menu of options focused on economic, monetary, and consumer financial issues (such as those discussed in this memo).
- Regulatory Guidance. Requiring agencies to automatically issue guidance when a pandemic is declared. 6 9. Require Flexible Repayment Options. Borrowers should be provided with affordable opportunities to repay arrearages over time without late fees or back interest.