Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) this week released his own plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which includes $2,000 monthly paychecks to “every person in America,” the halt of student loan payments, and the expansion of unemployment insurance.
While Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir said the presidential hopeful will be assessing his campaign after Joe Biden’s (D) sweep on Tuesday, he emphasized that Sanders will be focusing keenly on the coronavirus response in the “immediate term.” It is something he has already been doing over the past week, providing near-daily updates on the administration’s continuing response to the virus.
Sanders released a formal list of proposals he wants to see implemented to combat the crisis. Some of the ideas, such as issuing paychecks to Americans, have already been championed by President Trump. His administration released its economic proposal to address the ramifications of the coronavirus on Wednesday, which includes “two rounds of payments to Americans, each in an aggregate amount of $250 billion.”
On the economic front, Sanders states that workers must remain on payroll and called for the government to “work with affected businesses to provide direct payroll costs for small and medium sized businesses to keep workers employed until this crisis has passed.”
He is also calling for emergency $2,000 cash payments “to every person in America every month for the duration of the crisis” and the expansion of unemployment insurance. According to his plan, “everyone who loses a job must qualify for unemployment compensation at 100 percent of their prior salary with a cap of $75,000 a year.” The expansion would include coverage for “non-traditional workers,” including independent contractors and tipped workers.
Additionally, Sanders is calling for a pause on student loan payments, evictions, and utility shut-offs.
Sanders also calls for the U.S. government to “Empower Medicare to Lead Health Care Response.” Under Sanders’ proposal, everyone will receive free healthcare treatment for coronavirus testing, treatment, and the coming vaccination.
Citing the “major shortage of ICU units and ventilators,” Sanders says the government must “work aggressively with the private sector to make sure that this equipment is available to hospitals and the rest of the medical community.”
Sanders adds that the U.S. should:
- Increase provider capacity.
- Implement successful testing models.
- Use the Defense Production Act to mobilize resources.
- Utilize the National Guard, the Army Corp of Engineers and other military resources.
- Dramatically expand community health centers.
The Vermont lawmaker has used the public health crisis to push his political visions, such as Medicare for All. He said during the last Democrat debate that we must address the climate change “crisis” with the same urgency as the global pandemic.