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COVID-19

The Trump administration considers ways to help the travel industry

Kimberly Adams Mar 11, 2020
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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, center, emphasized that the Trump administration's economic response to COVID-19 should not be considered a bailout. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

The Trump administration considers ways to help the travel industry

Kimberly Adams Mar 11, 2020
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, center, emphasized that the Trump administration's economic response to COVID-19 should not be considered a bailout. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

There are lots of options being batted back and forth in Washington for the next stage in responding to the spread of COVID-19, including the extension of support to some of the industries most affected by the pandemic.

Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took great pains to emphasize that the administration’s plans to provide emergency assistance to airline, hotel and cruise industries do not amount to a “bailout”. Which makes sense, because bailout brings to mind what these market conditions already have everyone talking about — the 2008 financial crisis.

When the financial system was in turmoil in 2008, it was pretty easy to see which industries caused the problems and which were suffering.

“And this, of course, was concentrated last time to the financial industry, the housing industry, ultimately, the automakers were also involved,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

And so they got federal government bailouts, or loans, regulatory relief — whatever you want to call it.

“The assistance that was given to the banking and automobile industries during the 2008 financial crisis came under the heading of the Troubled Asset Relief Program,” said Erin Lockwood, assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine.

How well that infamous TARP bailout worked is still being debated, and lawmakers are now trying to decide if industry bailouts will help this time around. Joshua Sewell, senior policy analyst at Taxpayers for Common Sense, thinks it’s too early to know.

“You need to stop the disease before you try to recover from the effects,” he said.

Right now, health officials are scrambling to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to prepare for an anticipated spike in patients and deaths.

“If this moves beyond a stock market crisis into affecting people’s take-home pay, their inability to have the kids go to school, then you should consider ways of easing the pain for people in what we know is the real economy,” Sewell said.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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