How Coronavirus Could Actually Give Americans a Stronger Financial Safety Net

Progressive dreams like universal paid sick and family leave — and even universal basic income — might suddenly be within reach.
March 21, 2020, 2:10pm

WASHINGTON — Progressive goals that long seemed like pipe dreams suddenly don’t look so far-fetched as the novel coronavirus ravages the economy.

Progressives have long fought for universal paid sick and family leave. Expanded unemployment insurance has been a top priority as well. And liberals have stewed over corporations buying back their own stock after getting government help. More recently, universal basic income — direct cash payments to all Americans — has become popular in some liberal circles.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who ran for president last year, has advocated for many of these provisions. Last week, in response to the economic destruction wrought by the pandemic, he and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to give direct cash payments to Americans. Republicans are suddenly on board with — or at least open to — some of them.

We talked with him on Wednesday about how the coronavirus has changed politics, and parallels he sees with how America responded to the Great Depression.

Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence, left, speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 20, 2020. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images.