COVID-19 Will Probably Cause Poverty to Decrease

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Jason DeParle reports on a study that says the COVID-19 pandemic will cause poverty in America to increase sharply:

If quarterly unemployment hits 30 percent — as the president of one Federal Reserve Bank predicts — 15.4 percent of Americans will fall into poverty for the year, the Columbia researchers found, even in the unlikely event the economy instantly recovers. That level of poverty would exceed the peak of the Great Recession and add nearly 10 million people to the ranks of the poor.

Wait. This doesn’t make sense. If you stay employed throughout the pandemic, then you won’t fall into poverty. If you’re laid off or furloughed, then you apply for unemployment benefits. Thanks to the coronavirus rescue bill, those benefits are higher than your normal pay for anyone with a low income. It’s quite possible, in fact, that poverty will decrease thanks to the CARES Act. So why does—

There are significant caveats. Most important, the model does not yet include the potentially large anti-poverty effect of the Cares Act, the emergency legislation last month that provides about $560 billion in direct relief to individuals and even greater sums to sustain businesses and jobs.

Oh for chrissake. What’s the point in writing something so wildly misleading? The CARES Act was passed more than two weeks ago. That’s plenty of time to incorporate it into models of poverty. Why waste time on alarmist nonsense based on a fantasy world that doesn’t exist?

I understand that state unemployment agencies are overwhelmed right now, which means that unemployment benefits are slow to get approved. That’s a legitimate problem. But eventually things will settle down, and when they do people are going to discover that in addition to their $1,200 checks, they’re also getting a substantial upward bump in pay while they’re unemployed. For some reason, though, the nation’s press corps is oddly reluctant to write about this. I don’t get it.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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