The devastation of the coronavirus pandemic has unraveled American society, causing unprecedented death and financial ruin for many. Much of the destruction can be traced to the failures of the Trump administration, which cut back disease surveillance programs, refused to act on early warning signs, did little to secure needed medical supplies, and moved slowly to shut down borders.
But the government acted swiftly and decisively to secure the economic well-being of the wealthiest business and property owners, a policy response that has hastened growing inequality. Over the course of the pandemic, Congress and the Federal Reserve has maintained a laser focus on propping up asset prices on Wall Street, a successful intervention that has largely preserved the power of a small ruling elite.
The primary lifeline to middle and working-class Americans, a federal supplement to unemployment insurance, has expired. In its place, lawmakers are now considering another wave of corporate tax cuts, defense contractor spending, and other special interest giveaways. Will enough aid reach struggling families in time to avoid a wave of foreclosures and crushing poverty?
Today’s SYSTEM UPDATE, guest hosted by The Intercept’s Lee Fang, explores all of these issues. We discuss how other governments around the world have responded to the crisis, whether a populist insurgency shaped by the crisis could lead to reform in the Democratic Party, and what can be done to clawback growing corporate monopolies and concentrated wealth. Our guests include David Dayen, executive editor of the American Prospect; Sarah Miller, the executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project; and Damon Silvers, the policy director of the AFL-CIO.