America is currently spiraling into a recession, and we need to have effective policy as soon as possible to end it.
This recession is a classic demand side recession. People are staying home, cutting their spending, which is going to cause both deflation and a reduction in GDP. This is going to inevitably cause layoffs, which is going to deeply harm the economy.
The key now is to replace the consumer spending as fast as possible so that businesses can keep people employed, so that individuals can continue to spend money to keep the economy moving. The easiest way to do that right now is by simply sending money out to everybody as fast as possible to counteract our declining demand.
This is why Congress should pass an immediate temporary basic income to every American right now. Every American should get a check, $1000 or $2000, either deposited to their bank account or sent to them as a physical check as soon as possible.
Democrats are wrong that the check should be means tested. First of all, every means tested program will inevitably miss people who should have received benefits. 75% of American households make under $100,000 per year, and our annual median household income is $52,657. The majority of people will greatly benefit from this policy. The key right now to preventing a depression (3 or more quarters of economic decline) is speed.
Republicans are wrong in having it be done as handouts to already well off companies. This will not help our economy.
But, even more important than the economy is our lives. We need to have access to as many tests as possible, and be able to get as many people cured from coronavirus as possible, as soon as possible. The economy is far less important than protecting human lives.
There will be more opportunities to fight inequality in bigger ways soon. The biggest thing will be through making a more progressive tax code, and that is something we need to do, but right now Congress should have only two priorities, and that is to ensure that the Coronavirus epidemic ends as soon as possible, and that our economy is protected. Long term structural macroeconomic policies which we should have focused on a few years ago will need to wait.
End this recession now.