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Avoid austerity to prevent a state and local coronavirus depression

Originally published: The Appeal (April 17, 2020)   | 

This piece is a commentary, part of The Appeal’s collection of opinion and analysis.

It may feel like the government is handing out money like crazy these days. Congress just passed a $2.2. trillion stimulus bill responding to the novel coronavirus, though that number may be somewhat inflated. The Federal Reserve is launching multi-trillion dollar lending programs. Meanwhile, state and local governments are mobilizing to provide healthcare and other services during the pandemic.

But beneath the surface austerity looms. On April 2, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the budget for fiscal year 2021 would include $10 billion in cuts. Shockingly, these cuts are concentrated in healthcare, with billions in cuts to Medicaid. It was “the worst budget in recent memory” according to Jonathan Westin, executive director for New York Communities for Change. “What the hell happened to Democratic control and progressive leadership in Albany?” Westin asked.

It’s Republican austerity warfare against countless low-income New Yorkers who are the most vulnerable to coronavirus.

Read the rest here.

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