Opinion: Will Washington Repeat The Mistakes Of 2008 With Its Coronavirus Bailouts?

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…

Opinion: Will Washington Repeat The Mistakes Of 2008 With Its Coronavirus Bailouts?

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.Policymakers should remember some of the biggest blunders from the crisis response back in 2008–2009 and be pressured to never repeat them. Among the biggest:The government bailed out banks, but not people.Nearly 10 million homeowners lost their homes to foreclosures as a result of the 2008 subprime mortgage fiasco. They got virtually nothing. Meanwhile, more than $1 trillion was handed out to save banks and other large corporations, many of which are now more valuable than they were then.There’s a major push underway to not repeat this moral travesty. Even the Trump administration is planning to send one-off checks directly to Americans as part of a $1 trillion stimulus package to help cushion families from the pain of an economic slowdown. Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed an even bigger $2 trillion stimulus, which would see every household get $2,000 a month in direct assistance for the duration of the crisis.Sen. Sherrod Brown has just introduced a bill to protect homeowners by banning foreclosures for six months, in addition to other help. Evicti
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