5 things the government must do now to avoid collapse and/or revolution
The COVID-19 medical and economic crisis remains mostly unaddressed by both the Republican and Democratic parties. They have only passed one piece of legislation that significantly helps workers: supplementing existing state unemployment benefits by $600 per week. Those additional payments expire in four months. Until then, many people who are out of work will receive about $1,000 a week. If the past is precedent, Congress is likely to renew the law.
Aside from expanded unemployment checks, the government has been useless.
Here are the essential, basic things Congress and President Donald Trump must do in order to avoid economic collapse, mass starvation, an epidemic of violent crime reminiscent of "A Clockwork Orange" and political unrest up to and including revolution.
They must do it now.
A universal basic income is the smartest, fastest way to stimulate the economy by keeping money flowing from consumers. Neither political party seems to care enough about the prospect of street riots to pass a UBI. But they need to do it yesterday to avoid catastrophe tomorrow. Flat UBI payments are unfair to people who live in expensive cities and states; the cost of living in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio, is half that of Manhattan. Weight UBIs according to living costs.
At bare minimum, medical treatment for COVID-19 and related ailments (bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.) should be free from a patient's first test to his or her last breath in a ventilator. It should be free for everyone: insured, uninsured, homeless, prison inmate and undocumented worker, the last of which for an obvious reason: If an illegal immigrant contracts the coronavirus, he or she can transmit it to you. It's to everyone's advantage that everyone have access to medical care.
Theoretically, the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act does that. But not in reality. "Our health care system is a mess and the law does not explicitly prohibit charging you if you go to an out-of-network provider," Time reports. "It also doesn't address other 'surprise billing' problems." Treatment for COVID-19 can easily run $35,000 or more. Not only should Americans not have to pay; they can't pay.
Whether you go to your physician or urgent care or the ER, no one who suspects she has COVID-19 should be asked for her insurance card. Health care providers should bill the federal government.
No leading Republican or Democrat -- Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi -- wants to do this. Why? Because they're stupid, crazy or both.