Washington, D.C. — A new report published today by the Center for American Progress presents a national policy action plan for economic, social, and international rebuilding of America in the post-COVID-19 era. This comprehensive blueprint is framed in three strategic pillars: rewiring America’s economy, rebuilding America’s social safety net, and reconnecting America with the world. This new, inclusive national effort will enable America to live up to the constitutional promise of a more perfect union for all people.
According to the report, the coronavirus shock revealed critical deficiencies in how America’s government, private economy, and entire way of living have developed over the past few decades. As such, national rebuilding requires bold, immediate, and interlocking action to subdue a devastating pandemic, recover from the resulting economic collapse, reduce societal inequalities, address climate change, and navigate the shifting tectonic plates of the international system.
“This comprehensive policy proposal prioritizes the key issues our nation needs to focus on to move forward in building a more just and inclusive America,” said Mara Rudman, executive vice president for Policy at CAP. “The coronavirus crisis exposed something we already knew: tremendous differences across the socioeconomic spectrum and glaring racial and class inequalities in job security and wages, access to health care, and economic safety nets. The new government has an opportunity to tackle those issues and implement policies to improve the lives of all Americans.”
“The United States cannot be safe, secure, and prosperous at home without active involvement in the world, and America cannot take on its international responsibilities without a strong and resilient society at home,” said Brian Katulis, senior fellow with the National Security and International Policy team at CAP. “We need new steps to reconnect the country to the rest of the world in order to protect our interests, while also dealing cooperatively with other nations on problems such as pandemics, climate change, and poverty.”
“With the Biden administration entering office, the government needs a national plan for renewal,” says John Halpin, senior fellow and co-director of the Politics and Elections program at CAP. “New coalitions will be required to think anew about the problems our country faces today, with an eye to a better future. It will not be easy to stitch this coalition together, but we must engage constructively with each other and with other countries.”
“Past policy responses in times of major crisis have failed to advance economic well-being for all. This time must be different,” said Alexandra Cawthorne Gaines, vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at CAP. “America’s social safety net needs to be rebuilt to make it more comprehensive in terms of the services it provides and more flexible in terms of how it can be accessed and used.”
Key recommendations to rewire America’s economy include:
- Building a 100 percent clean energy future aimed at accomplishing global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century: Such an effort should include steps for new job opportunities with strong unions and worker protections, community investments, and reductions in toxic air and water pollution that put climate change at the core of building an economy that works for everyone.
- Providing affordable child care options that help struggling parents have a stronger attachment to the labor force and strengthen the overall economy: Increasing funding for child care and providing resources for child care providers is paramount for helping families weather this pandemic and future downturns.
- Investing in vital jobs in the health care industry: Long-term supports and services are going to be needed as the elderly population continues to increase and demand rises in the face of an increasing shortage of direct care workers.
- Making sustained federal infrastructure investments: This includes expanding broadband to areas lacking service; repairing and replacing aging highways, public transportation, rail, and water infrastructure; and updating public school buildings.
- Concentrating on human capital needs and lifelong learning: This will allow America to have the talent necessary to advance the common good at home and around the world.
Critical recommendations to rebuild America’s social safety net include:
- Ensuring basic living standards for all: This includes increasing cash transfer and in-kind support programs, such as unemployment insurance (UI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, housing, and other benefits.
- Modernizing the safety net: The economic value and multiplier effect of many safety net programs could be increased with greater automation. For example, rather than waiting for a bill to increase UI benefits in times of sharp economic downturns, the UI system could be structured to expand automatically when certain macroeconomic or labor market conditions are met.
- Centering the needs of individuals and families: State and local governments should deploy more strategies to better coordinate service delivery to low-income families.
Crucial recommendations to reconnect America with the world include:
- Renewing international cooperation on public health: The United States should prioritize working with long-standing allies to share knowledge, make supply chains more resilient, and enhance preparedness for future pandemics.
- Designing a unified approach to domestic and international policymaking that protects America’s economy and creates jobs.
- Changing the direction of America’s trade and international economic policies: The United States should pursue new international economic agreements and understandings with American allies in Europe and the Asia-Pacific to coordinate supply chains in critical industries such as zero-emission vehicles, microelectronics, and strategic minerals, as well as to create shared stockpiles of critical medical equipment and establish surge capacity to meet urgent needs, ensuring diversity and resiliency across these linkages.
- Increasing cooperation and standards on digital policy: Beyond taxation and regulation, the United States should build on its existing relationships to launch a joint research and development initiative on information technology and computer networks.
- Renewing global action and diplomacy on climate change: Renewing international cooperation on climate change starts with reentry into the Paris climate agreement.
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Claudia Montecinos at gro.ssergorpnacirema@sonicetnomc.