Senator Bernie Sanders wants to give every American $2000 during every month of the COVID-19 crisis.
Bernie Sanders, whose campaign for the presidency has been marked by calls for free healthcare for all Americans – the Medicare for All Plan – has sent out a list of proposals to his supporters along with a petition to bring his Coronavirus response ideas to a discussion in Congress. The first proposal is a watered-down version of his Medicare plan, where free and accessible healthcare is guaranteed to all Americans seeking healthcare. Interestingly, the provision of free healthcare is not limited to treatment or testing of the novel coronavirus, but rather any American with healthcare needs.
The next proposal is focused on resources for healthcare providers and ensuring hospitals have the human and material resources to be able to address the very likely surge of coronavirus cases over the next few weeks. He pushes for things the government has already considered – namely, collaborating with the private sector to produce scarce resources.
Sanders also criticizes the government’s to-date approach to testing, saying it has thus far been “woefully inadequate”. He proposes we must make testing kits far more publicly available, with no indication of how or where to find these additional testing kits. His other proposals include calls for more drastic measures taken, including using the Defense Production Act and National Guard to help in the nationwide effort to mobilize resources.
Emergency $2,000 cash payments to every person in America
Economically, Sanders’ proposal is founded on ensuring every American can maintain their income, hence the “emergency $2,000 cash payments to every person in America every month for the duration of the crisis”. Interestingly, Sanders does not distinguish this $2,000 payment among Americans that may or may not need it, but seems to suggest it be provided indiscriminately. The government’s current $1,000 proposal would provide less for the wealthy, and ensure lower-income Americans receive close to the full amount.
Sanders also stresses the importance of protecting small and medium-sized businesses, expanding unemployment insurance, and protecting informal workers and those in the non-traditional work sectors. He also suggests there be “an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs”, as well as delays on mortgage loans. He suggests there be rental assistance provided, but does not propose a moratorium on rent payments.
Justice for All
There is a justice portion of the proposal as well – focusing on preventing corruption, avoiding price-gouging by pharmaceutical companies and other resource-hoarding corporations. In classic Bernie fashion – he closes his proposal with a call for unity and support for working-class America, rather than the wealthy upper class and corporate executives.
Bernie’s message, as always, resonates with Americans. Whether his proposals are all feasible, however, is a different question – his calls for more testing, redistributing resources, and shifting production of healthcare supplies onto the private sector seems to undermine the actual capacity and availability of these resources. Nevertheless, his message is a strong one – we must provide healthcare and a basic level of income for all Americans – to make sure our most vulnerable are protected amidst the pandemic of COVID-19.