Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed giving every household in America a check for $2,000 each month as part of a laundry list of recommendations to curb the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking via livestream, Sanders outlined a $2 trillion list of proposals he would bring to “Democratic leadership” centered around protecting workers in various industries.
“We need to provide a direct $2,000 cash payment to every household in America for the duration of the crisis to provide them with the assistance they need to pay their bills and take care of their families,” Sanders said in the middle of his lengthy list of propositions.
The policy pegs a specific figure to a cash assistance proposal that is gaining increasing popularity on Capitol Hill as Washington scrambles to cobble together legislation to dig workers and businesses out of a deepening economic hole resulting from lost business amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In laying out his plans, Sanders touted the need for “unprecedented” investments to combat the “growing economic meltdown which will impact tens of millions of workers in this country” as officials fight the lethal health risks from the virus.
“The main point to be made tonight is that in this moment of crisis it is imperative that we stand together, understand that right now, throughout this country, there are so many of our people wondering, ‘What is going to happen to me now?'” said Sanders.
Sanders’s proposals largely centered around expanding people’s access to health care and boosting government assistance to help pay for medical costs.
Among other things, the Vermont progressive proposed empowering Medicare to cover all medical bills during the coronavirus “emergency,” ensuring all hospitals have the ventilators and other tools necessary to treat patients, “massively” boosting the number of test kits available, scaling up the production of face masks and other materials, and ensuring that an eventual cure is sold free of charge.
Sanders also pushed for assistance to prevent small and medium-sized businesses from going under, ensuring workers who are laid off continue getting paychecks and mandating that unemployment insurance applies to “every single worker in America.”
“We must make certain that the government is getting this money into the hands of working families and the most vulnerable as quickly as possible,” said Sanders.
Sanders recognized that not every proposal on the list would be accepted and that congressional leaders would likely examine the suggestions as they look at broader legislative remedies.
“Now we’re throwing out a lot of ideas, and when you deal with the United States Congress, you don’t get everything that you want,” he said. “There will be a picking and a choosing here and there.”
Sanders’s address comes as Capitol Hill patches together a stimulus effort to dull the economic impacts of the coronavirus spread, the brunt of which have been born by the hospitality, restaurant and other industries.
The Trump administration is seeking a roughly $850 billion economic stimulus package from Congress in order to address the economic fallout of the coronavirus. The proposal includes payments to small business and loan guarantees to critical industries such as airlines and hotels, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Tuesday.