Christopher Mackin and Richard May in The New Republic:
With vaccinations underway and the Biden administration about to assume power, attention will soon return to an assessment of the true damage that Covid-19 has wreaked on the American economy. At this moment, it’s important to take stock of the various rescue measures that have been extended by the federal government and consider how they should be amended in the future. Above and beyond the $900 billion stimulus recently signed by President Trump, over the next two to four years it is likely that between $5 to $10 trillion dollars of taxpayer money, in the form of taxpayer-backed loans and loan guarantees, will be expended to save American businesses and jobs. That level of government aid, the largest on record in American history, will likely require more than a generation of productive effort to pay back. A reckoning with the government’s role in rescuing the economy in this fashion also creates an opportunity to pose some of the larger questions about productivity, fairness, and economic inequality that preceded the pandemic.
The preservation of employment, and the need to ensure that those vital paychecks that sustain workers and their families keep getting cut, has been foremost in the minds of policymakers during the pandemic. Presuming taxpayer-provided funds and guarantees will continue to play a key role in the recovery of private sector employers, incumbent shareholders should not be the sole beneficiaries of recovered value. Instead, it should be shared with employees working at all levels of each firm receiving assistance and with each and every citizen whose tax dollars are the ultimate source of funds for the recovery.