Background Briefing: December 21, 2020


The Semi-Stimulus and Widening Income Inequality

We begin with the stimulus package that emerged from negotiations over the weekend which were many months late and resulted in less than half of the $2.2 trillion allocated in the Cares Act when we had the first wave of the pandemic. But now that we are in a far worse condition with a pandemic out of control and an economy teetering on freefall, the $900 billion will clearly help even if it is too little too late. Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist and co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California, Berkeley who has co-authored several editions of The State of Working Americans, joins us to discuss her article at Berkeley Blog “The U.S. wealth gap was appalling before the the pandemic. Now it’s worse.” We discuss how the pandemic is worsening the already outrageous income inequality in the country as billionaires like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and the Walton family have become much, much richer than ever, and the extent to which this Band-Aid from the Congress to help Americans in pain in the short term until Biden gets into office and will try to do more for middle class and working Americans as he has promised.


Will McConnell Give Biden the Same Treatment He Gave Obama?

Then we speak with Robert Johnson, the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking who was Chief Economist of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee and Chief Economist of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee. He joins us to discuss how the priority appears to be to bail out assets over people and that the Republican strategy in dealing with Biden might be the same as Mitch McConnell’s was with Obama, to frustrate him at every turn to make him a one-term president.

Click here to read the memo from New Consensus to Joe Biden’s transition team. 

Many Immediate Needs Met But Long Term Help is Uncertain

Then finally we speak with Tamara Fucile, a Senior Advisor for Government Affairs at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities who was previously Associate Director of Legislative Affairs at the OMB and Deputy Staff Director for Minority Leader Schumer’s Joint Economic Committee. She joins us to discuss how, although the stimulus is late in coming and there is not enough, it will do a lot to address the immediate needs of a lot of Americans before a new administration is able to do more, particularly if they win the two senate seats in Georgia.