Congress must act to end food hardship

Congress must act to end food hardship

Food insecurity has been rising during the Covid-19 pandemic, as nearly 30 million Americans remain unemployed and most of the federal aid approved last spring has dried up. Congress is likely to approve a government funding bill that extends some emergency food assistance and provides states with flexibility in administering other food programs. But that’s not enough. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Brynne Keith-Jennings has more on how the Senate’s failure to act will cause food hardship to continue:

While these provisions are important and necessary, policymakers must do more to ensure that families can meet their basic needs. Six months into the pandemic and economic response, hardship persists for many reasons. Many job losses became permanent as businesses closed, families exhausted their savings, food prices rose significantly, and rent and other bills that families have had trouble paying have mounted.

Emotions vs Science

The Louisiana Legislature returns to the Capitol next week for a special session, where a top priority for many conservative legislators is curbing the governor’s emergency powers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Sen. Fred Mills of New Iberia, a Republican who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, worries that emotions are getting in the way of science. William Taylor Potter of the Lafayette Daily Advertiser has more:

Mills, a frequent ally of Edwards, said he’s had numerous angry phone calls from constituents regarding the restrictions, an issue he said has become extremely political. “When I tell constituents that we’re pretty much following the federal guidelines of the Trump administration, I find the politics gets real crazy,” Mills said during a panel for Beacon Community Connection’s 2020 South Louisiana Community Health Summit. “So a Democratic governor is following what a Republican administration is doing? I say, ‘Yes, following it to a T.'”


Saving the pandemic generation
The 2020 college graduating class entered the worst job market since the Great Depression. While Congress suspended student loan payments for most federal borrowers, that provision expires on Dec. 31, when borrowers will have to resume repayment of their loans. Alexis Goldstein writing in the New Republic, says a better solution would be to cancel debt for 43 million borrowers – a move that would have positive effects throughout the economy:

The beauty of canceling student debt is that it has benefits that redound to just about everybody: Research shows it would create more than one million jobs a year, as well as providing a considerable boost to our gross domestic product. Student debt cancellation has sometimes faced criticisms due to widespread misapprehensions about the sort of people who would extract the largest advantages, such as wealthy doctors and lawyers. In reality, debt cancellation would have the biggest impact on those most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic: It would be a lifeline for the nation’s seniors and to the Black and brown communities. It would lessen the fallout of the permanent wealth loss this year’s graduating class is experiencing as the Covid-19 economic crisis intensifies.


Repeating the mistakes of 2009
During the last great recession in 2009, Congress shortchanged recovery funding, dragging out the nation’s economic recovery and prolonging the pain of people who were unemployed or underemployed. Now, with additional Covid-relief talks stalled by Senate Republicans, lawmakers are at risk of repeating that mistake. Ben Casselman and Jeanna Smialek of the New York Times explain why the U.S. economy faces dire consequences if Congress fails to act on more Covid-19 relief aid:

(M)any economists said that allowing the economy to slow at the current moment — with millions out of work or underemployed — could lead to long-term economic scarring. Employers have still hired back less than half of the 22 million workers they laid off in March and April, and the unemployment rate is higher than the peak of many past recessions. Even optimistic forecasts imply that gross domestic product will shrink more this year than in the worst year of the last recession.


Number of the Day
$16 trillion – The amount the U.S. economy has lost since 2000 as a result of discrimination against Black people. (Source: NPR)