Expand Small Business Loan Support. The government should provide generous, low-interest loans and loan guarantees to small businesses. Even big businesses in sectors hardest hit–such as airlines–should be able to tap temporary government-sponsored lending facilities. We already do this for banks and other financial institutions. Faced with the threat of the coronavirus, it makes sense to extend the idea of the government being the lender of last resort to the non-financial business sector.
Free Testing and Affordable Treatment. Testing for the uninsured should be paid for by the federal government–as should treatment for the confirmed cases that require hospitalization or expensive prescription drugs. We want to encourage widespread testing. We do not want American families worried about facing financial ruin if a loved one needs to be hospitalized for coronavirus.
And when a vaccine is developed, make sure it is available free to every American.
Keep America Great. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign was controversial because he insisted on talking about threats to America and the failures of American policymakers that other politicians and the media ignored, such as immigration and bad trade deals. That is also why it was successful. Trump told us he could see the threats the rest of us could see and would take action to fix things.
That’s what the American economy and financial markets need today. We elected a president who would set things right. We elected a man of action. It would be a tragedy if the president’s advisers convinced him to mimic predecessors who denied the devastation delivered upon America’s industrial heartland and laughed at the idea that America needed to be made great again.
In a crisis, when people seem to be panicking, the government needs to step in as a source of stability. The U.S. government, almost uniquely in the world, sees its own cost of funding fall in crises, as Treasury yields have once again been demonstrating. It does not have to worry about a deteriorating balance sheet or diminished cash flows because when danger arises, investors worldwide demand our government’s bonds.
“Governments can be a ballast of cool stability while individuals are justifiably terrified. In other words, governments can be counter-cyclical in the broadest sense of the term,” Joe Weisenthal at Bloomberg wrote in a newsletter Monday.
We can’t keep America great by ignoring the threat of coronavirus. But if President Trump acts with his characteristic boldness and decisiveness, coronavirus cannot keep us from being great.