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Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


Aid to States is Important, But Next Federal Stimulus Must Truly Spark a People’s Recovery

people New York City crowd

The people must be prioritized, the authors write (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

New York remains the epicenter of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. And we remain short of resources to tamp down transmission of the virus and to provide the critical economic relief to working families and the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

Our representatives in Congress need to make sure we get those resources in the next stimulus bill. And starting this week, we’ve been gathering New Yorkers from all across the state to join in the fight for a People’s Recovery that will benefit all of us.  

It’s not just “PPE” -- personal protective equipment -- but also workplace protections, cash assistance, healthcare, housing aid, and safe housing for those of us who are homeless or incarcerated that are now essential to caring for our people and preventing more community transmission of the virus.

This crisis has laid bare the devastating inequality in our state and the failures of austerity policies that have left most of our communities woefully unprepared, while the wealthy and well-connected escape to well-stocked hideaways, where many of them profiteer on the pandemic. 

The devastation has been hardest on communities of color, consistent with the systemic inequities in our education, healthcare, and economic systems. 

Frontline workers -- many of whom are immigrants and all of whom don’t have the privilege to stay at home -- are putting their lives on the line to save our lives, deliver essentials, and keep food on all of our tables.  Meanwhile, immigrant, homeless, and incarcerated communities have been largely left out of pandemic policies and planning.

The first three federal stimulus packages along with the latest supplementary package failed to deliver relief to those who need it the most. And our new state budget failed to reverse a decade of austerity, instead choosing cuts to critical pandemic response services over asking the wealthiest New Yorkers to chip in more. 

Yes, we do need more unrestricted federal resources for state and local governments. But we also need more for regular New Yorkers struggling with the twin healthcare and economic impacts of the pandemic. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and our congressional delegation must do better for New York.

We cannot accept another corporate-first stimulus package. We need a People’s Recovery that will regenerate society and tackle institutional inequality head-on. The next stimulus must:

Repair dangerous gaps in worker protections and address dangerous exclusion of immigrant families.

Provide ongoing and universal income assistance paired with true financial relief.

Provide healthcare to all and protections to health care workers.

Fix gaping holes in corporate accountability and state governmental oversight.

Allocate the money needed to protect our democracy and elections.

Address the unfolding public health crises around incarceration and homelessness.

Starting this week, community, labor, faith, and Indivisible groups across New York will be holding online teach-ins on each of these key priorities to kickstart the advocacy.  We expect our lawmakers to attend, to learn, and to take action that will save lives now and over the long run.

And we also expect our legislators to get back to work. 

Workers across the country are adjusting to the requirements of social distancing. Why hasn’t Congress? It’s time to reconvene and implement the necessary procedures and technology solutions to ensure a fully functioning and transparent government. 

The on-again-off-again backdoor negotiations are opaque and undemocratic. And the results show what’s wrong with doing it that way: outrageous corporate bailouts, insufficient oversight, and millions of New Yorkers left to fend for themselves. 

The time for New York’s Congressional delegation to stand up and fight for our communities is now.

Ricky Silver is co-lead organizer with Empire State Indivisible. Michael Kink is the executive director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition. On Twitter @es_indivisible & @mkink.

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