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Biden says he'd shut down economy if scientists recommended – CTV News

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ATLANTA —
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he would follow public health advisers’ advice if they called for a national shutdown should he take office and the coronavirus had not abated.

“I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives. We cannot get the country moving until we control the virus,” Biden said in an interview broadcast Sunday night on ABC News.

Asked specifically whether he’d push a national shutdown if scientists said it was necessary, Biden replied: “I would shut it down.”

The former vice-president has previously called for the nation’s governors to impose mask mandates in their states, effectively a national mask mandate. But when he made that call, Biden avoided saying he’d attempt to use a nationally applicable executive order himself.

The former vice-president’s remarks came as part of his first joint interview with vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris. The pair accepted their party’s nominations during a virtual convention last week. On Monday, Republicans begin their convention to nominate Trump and U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence for a second term.

Biden laughed when asked about Trump’s recent assertion that the only way he’d lose was if the election were rigged, and the Democratic challenger dismissed any notions that Trump wouldn’t leave the White House voluntarily if he loses.

“The American people will not let that happen,” he said. “No one’s going to allow that to happen.”

Both Biden and Harris downplayed their bitter debate encounter last summer during the Democratic primary. Harris, a California senator, levelled deeply personal criticism against Biden for his opposition in the 1970s to federally mandated busing to desegregate public schools and remarks he’d made about having worked amicably alongside racist senators when he first came to Washington.

The first Black woman on a major party national ticket, Harris said she and Biden are on the same page on race amid the nation’s ongoing reckoning with systemic racism.

“There are real racial disparities that are rooted in systemic racism,” Harris said, noting wealth gaps and the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on Black and Hispanic communities. Biden, she said, “is addressing these truths, he speaks these truths.”

Biden said, looking back, he understands how Harris, who was among the minority students bused in the 1970s, would criticize him so harshly. But he also said she and others may not have known his full record on civil rights. He said he, as a 77-year-old white man, cannot understand her lived experiences and that she, a 55-year-old daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, can’t understand his.

But, he said, they “have the same value set” and are “on same exact page about what the possibilities are right now.”

Likewise, they downplayed policy differences that emerged when they were primary rivals, especially on health care. Biden has consistently backed adding a “public option” to existing private insurance markets. Harris signed on to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill that would create a single-payer government insurance system to replace private insurance.

“I signed on to bills that were about great ideas to fix the problem,” Harris told ABC, arguing that she and Biden “are completely aligned on making sure everyone has health care.”

Biden called any differences “tactical” but said, “We both believe that health care is a right, not a privilege.”

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31.4% spring slide for a US economy likely to shrink in 2020 – Yahoo Canada Finance

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31.4% spring slide for a US economy likely to shrink in 2020

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy plunged at an unprecedented rate this spring and even with a record rebound expected in the just-ended third quarter, the U.S. economy will likely shrink this year, the first time that has happened since the Great Recession.

The gross domestic product, the economy’s total output of goods and services, fell at a rate of 31.4% in the April-June quarter, only slightly changed from the 31.7% drop estimated one month ago, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The government’s last look at the second quarter showed a decline that was more than three times larger than the fall of 10% in the first quarter of 1958 when Dwight Eisenhower was president, which had been the largest decline in U.S. history.

Economists believe the economy will expand at an annual rate of 30% in the current quarter as businesses have re-opened and millions of people have gone back to work. That would shatter the old record for a quarterly GDP increase, a 16.7% surge in the first quarter of 1950 when Harry Truman was president.

The government will not release its July-September GDP report until Oct. 29, just five days before the presidential election.

While President Donald Trump is counting on an economic rebound to convince voters to give him a second term, economists said any such bounce back this year is a longshot.

Economists are forecasting that growth will slow significantly in the final three months of this year to a rate of around 4% and the U.S. could actually topple back into a recession if Congress fails to pass another stimulus measure or if there is a resurgence of COVID-19. There are upticks in infections occurring right now in some regions of the country, including New York.

“There are a lot of potential pitfalls out there,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services. “We are still dealing with a number of significant reductions because of the pandemic.”

In 2020, economists expect GDP to fall by around 4% , which would mark the first annual decline in GDP since a drop of 2.5% in 2009 during the recession triggered by the 2008 financial crisis.

“With economic momentum cooling, fiscal stimulus expiring, flu season approaching and election uncertainty rising, the main question is how strong the labour market will be going into the fourth quarter,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

“With the prospect of additinal fiscal aid dwindling, consumers, businesses and local governments will have to fend for themselves in the coming months,” Daco said.

The Trump administration is forecasting solid growth in coming quarters that will restore all of the output lost to the pandemic. Yet most economists believe it could take some time for all the lost output to be restored and they don’t rule out a return to shrinking GDP if no further government support is forthcoming.

So far this year, the economy fell at a 5% rate in the first quarter, signalling an end to a nearly 11-year-long economic expansion, the longest in U.S. history. That drop was followed by the second quarter decline of 31.4%, which was initially estimated two months ago as a drop of 32.9%, and then revised to a decline of 31.7% last month.

The slight upward revision in this report reflected less of a plunge in consumer spending than had been estimated. It was still a record fall at a rate of 33.2%, but last month projections were for a decline of 34.1%. This improvement was offset somewhat by downward revisions to exports and to business investment.

Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press

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Covid-19 Relief for Undocumented Would Boost the Economy for All – BNN

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(Bloomberg Opinion) — Among the many policy failures of our national Covid-19 response, the exclusion of 18.1 million people, including 4.9 million U.S. citizens, from federal stimulus packages will go down as one of the most economically devastating self-inflicted wounds.

These are neighbors who shop at local stores, pay rent and fuel the economy through their workforce participation to the tune of a $1.6 trillion contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product. According to research conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, leaving undocumented immigrants out of the $1,200 tax rebate approved by Congress in March resulted in a $10 billion loss in economic activity — which is almost $3.4 billion more than what it would have cost to include them. (One of us, Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, is a co-author of the study.)

The important role that documented and undocumented immigrants play in the national economy has been shown repeatedly in studies by the National Immigration Forum, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Brookings Institution and others.

With Congress negotiating a new coronavirus stimulus package, relief for undocumented workers must be a priority.

In California, undocumented immigrants make up more than 9% of the workforce and fuel the world’s fifth-largest economy. It is both a moral and an economic imperative to be sure they survive the pandemic. In April, Governor Gavin Newsom announced an emergency $125 million financial assistance program that would extend benefits to undocumented Californians. Cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco also have public and private programs to provide a safety net for immigrants who otherwise have nowhere to turn. But without an infusion of federal support, many undocumented families will fall off a financial cliff and take their local economies with them.

There are many communities outside of California that have not stepped in to fill the federal void even when undocumented immigrants and their families are hurting. The national unemployment rate for undocumented workers reached 29% in May, much higher than the rate for any other demographic group. The overconcentration of undocumented residents in construction and service jobs that have seen drastic cuts amid Covid-19 has resulted in a 25% reduction in wages for those workers.

The UCLA report found that undocumented workers and families are key contributors to the U.S. economy: About 78% of undocumented workers are employed in essential sectors. Undocumented workers and their families earn lower wages compared with their U.S.-born counterparts. Even before Covid-19, immigrant families struggled to make ends meet, yet their contributions keep local economies running. The failure to address their needs will only deepen the pandemic’s economic recession.

The shortsightedness of the federal policy also hurts U.S. citizens of all races and backgrounds. The UCLA report found undocumented immigrants contribute more than $190 billion in taxes. The American-born children of undocumented immigrants are facing hunger, potential homelessness and financial stress. The Donald Trump administration even made a decision to deny the $1,200 stimulus check to families in which one parent was undocumented, even if the other was a U.S. citizen.

The pandemic has exposed not only health and social inequalities, but also how our local and federal responses can lead to greater economic decline and deeper racial inequality. This vicious cycle of systemic discriminatory policies can be reversed with new policy ideas in a future federal stimulus package. Despite facing high unemployment rates, undocumented workers and their families are critical to meeting consumer demand for the national, state and local economic recovery.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Lorena Gonzalez is an assembly member in the California Legislature for the 80th District.

Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda is a professor with the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies and the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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4 million more Americans turn to Medicaid as coronavirus roils the economy – CNN

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The 5.7% jump between February and June came as millions of people lost their jobs — and, for many, their health insurance too — amid the public health emergency. Also, a coronavirus relief package Congress passed in mid-March barred states from cutting eligibility and disenrolling beneficiaries during the pandemic.
The surge marks a reversal of the slow decline in Medicaid enrollment since mid-2017 and accompanying increase in the number of uninsured adults and children.
More than 2.4 million adults enrolled in Medicaid, an increase of 7.2%. Also, 1.4 million kids signed up for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a jump of 4.1%. (This data does not include Arizona and the District of Columbia, which did not report the breakouts for adult and child enrollment for one or more months covered in the report.)
Some 68 million people were enrolled in Medicaid and another 6.7 million children were in CHIP in June, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data.
The increase, however, was less than some experts had predicted amid the economic collapse last spring. That’s in part because some workers were temporarily furloughed and able to keep their work-based health coverage, said Edwin Park, a research professor at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families. Also, Medicaid enrollment typically lags job loss during a recession.
But more of those layoffs are becoming permanent, so Medicaid enrollment is expected to increase, Park said.
The Congressional Budget Office now expects an additional 9 million people to be enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP in 2021, according to updated estimates released Tuesday. About half that figure stems from the pandemic-fueled economic downturn and half from the requirement that states allow people to remain in the program longer.
Meanwhile, nearly half a million Americans turned to the federal Obamacare exchanges earlier this year after losing health insurance coverage, according to federal data released in June.
Sign-ups spiked in April to more than double the number in prior Aprils, while more people also enrolled in May than in prior years.
Overall, enrollment jumped 46% in the first five months of 2020 compared with the same period the year before.
States that run their own health insurance exchanges also saw increases in sign-ups during special enrollment periods they enacted this year.

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