With the U.S. economy headed for another slowdown as the coronavirus surges to record levels, The New York Times gathered a group of experts “to debate the priorities for economic policy in the months and years ahead.” Topics included the damage the pandemic is causing to the economy, the size of the coronavirus stimulus package, and what to do with the trillions in new debt being issued to help fight the recession.
Some highlights from the discussion:
It’s going to be a bleak winter: “We’re about to have a crater, again, sort of like we had in the second quarter. It’s going to be very serious. And we need to sort of bridge to the other side of that.” – Kevin Hassett, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Trump.
The economy has a big hole to fill: “By my estimate, the gap between where GDP is going to be in 2021 and where it would have been if we had stayed on the path where we were pre-pandemic ... is about a trillion dollars next year without more fiscal relief, and I think it will be about a half-trillion dollars in 2022. So, for us to fill that hole and get us back onto the pre-pandemic path by the middle of next year, we need a package of about $2 trillion.” – Wendy Edelberg, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Infrastructure is a good place to start: “[Infrastructure investment] has the advantage that it touches upon many of the subjects that we discuss here — in the ways that you can do it, in terms of bringing additional wealth equality and things like that. There are the obvious things, which everybody mentions when they think about infrastructure, which are roads, tunnels and things like that. I think that you have to add our I.T. infrastructure, which in the pandemic we saw how reliant we are on it and how those gaps really come back to haunt us, for the business community, for the educational community, for all sectors of society and the economy.” – Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, chancellor of the City University of New York.
It's time to borrow more, and deal with the debt later: “Responsible fiscal policy is borrowing like crazy right now. Things that are targeted, things that are smart, to goose the economy. But once we stabilize the economy, be willing to bring that debt back down so it’s not growing faster than the economy.” – Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.