Congress is rushing to pass an emergency bill that will devote at least $1 trillion — and maybe much more, by some estimates — to helping people and businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s desperately needed, given forecasts like 3 million job losses in the coming months and unemployment reaching 20%, let alone the devastating human toll of the virus itself.
But powerful interests have a way of using crises to push through their own interests, often at the expense of the public. Many of the banks and financial institutions bailed out during the 2008 recession emerged even wealthier than they were before, while ordinary Americans suffered without help for years.
So as Washington cooks up a massive stimulus bill, with little time for public input or scrutiny, there’s a real danger of repeating the enormous mistakes of the last recession. The bill could put help out of reach for the most vulnerable Americans and give the most powerful Americans a huge influence over the outcome.