The coronavirus pandemic has effectively resulted in a pause to the United States economy, and it is threatening an unprecedented recession. The U.S. Congress has already introduced robust stimulus measures to aid corporations and small businesses, but workers need to be taken care of as well, according to Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.
On Friday, Hawley unveiled an ambitious policy proposal to rehire every worker laid off during the pandemic. Under Hawley’s plan — which the senator insists needs to be included in the next coronavirus relief package — the government would provide a “refundable payroll tax rebate covering 80 percent of employer payroll costs for companies of all sizes,” according to The Hill.
The policy would apply to workers laid off in March and April, and companies would be incentivized not only to keep workers on the payroll but also to rehire them once the pandemic is over. In a statement, Hawley explained that he believes workers should not be harmed by the government’s measures to contain the virus.
“Workers should not be forced into unemployment because of the government’s health measures prompted by this crisis. Workers should be able to keep their jobs, and be ready to get back to work as soon as practicable. Continuous employment also provides businesses with continuity and facilitates the economic rebound once the worst of the public health crisis is over.”
According to Hawley, aiding workers is not enough, and “domestic production of all types” needs to be promoted in order for the U.S. to stop relying on China and other countries for medical and other supplies. Furthermore, companies that invest in domestic production need to be rewarded by Congress, according to Hawley.
“We need to invest in America again and protect our people. The goal is simple – If we need it, we should make it,” the senator concluded.
Hawley’s economic views are thought to separate the senator from the rest of the Republican Party. As Zaid Jilani wrote in a column for The Guardian, Hawley appears to have embraced economic populism, drawing inspiration from progressive Republicans such as Teddy Roosevelt, and rejecting right-libertarian economics.
Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas has proposed a number of similar measures, maintaining an aggressive posture toward China, much like Hawley. In an interview last week, Cotton issued an apparent threat to China, suggesting that the country “unleashed” the coronavirus, and vowing that there will be a “reckoning.”
President Donald Trump has reluctantly embraced lockdown measures, but he appears to be eager to reopen the economy, despite warnings from public health experts. During a press briefing on Saturday, he argued against a full national lockdown, claiming that Americans need to “get back to work.”