Michael Merrill, an economist and labor historian in the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, is available for interview on House passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill.
Merrill said, “Congress deserves praise for supplementing and extending unemployment benefits, but there is no reason to think the economic disruptions caused by the virus are temporary. On the contrary, there is good reason to think they are permanent and recurring. The crisis has exposed weaknesses in the way we conduct business, not least in our health care system, but also in our market and worker protection policies. These weaknesses must be addressed if we are to return to anything like normal. Unless we start now to expand our public health system to give it sufficient emergency response and disaster surge capacity, and unless we develop a more robust social safety net that can automatically adjust to protect those displaced or at risk, we will always be in crisis mode. We patched the hole short-term. Now we need to build for the long-term.”