For families: With unemployment projected to scream past 20 percent, the federal government has to step in to replace a big chunk of private-sector income. That should include adding another direct payment to families in the $1,000 range, an extension of the $600 unemployment-insurance benefit, and measures for food and housing, such as rental and mortgage support for families who might otherwise face eviction. The ideal economic-relief bill should also include a “hiring bonus” for workers who go off jobless benefits, to accelerate the labor-market recovery. Total cost: $1.2 trillion.
For businesses: PPP loan forgiveness has not worked for many small companies. The leisure and hospitality industry—which includes restaurants, hotels, and theaters—has accounted for almost half of job losses during the crisis but has received only 10 percent of the total PPP money. The federal government should guarantee zero-interest loans to small businesses that they could pay back over many years. This would give firms free money today, while pushing their expenses into the post-pandemic future. Total cost: $600 billion.
For state and local governments: After the Great Recession ended, state and local government employment continued to decline, falling by about 500,000 jobs from 2009 to 2013. The pandemic has torched income and sales taxes, which has decimated state and local-government treasuries. An analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that state budget shortfalls in the next three years could approach $700 billion.