Episode 141: From Boom Time to Zoom Time

29 minutes

7/23/20--While co-host Stephanie Murray is off for a much-deserved vacation this week, Steve Koczela and Jennifer Smith have plenty to talk about both in national and statewide politics and policy.

President Trump signed a memo on Wednesday instructing the Commerce Department to leave out unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. from the census report that determines distribution of Congressional seats. As Jenn points out, this is not the first time the Trump administration has attempted to tangle in the census process of counting all persons. Back in pre-COVID times, the Trump administration tried to put a question on the census asking about citizenship status.

We at The Horse Race have spent a lot of time covering COVID-era housing issues, because it's a basic human need that, as evidenced by data from The MassINC Polling Group, has become incredibly difficult for some Massachusetts residents to hold onto during this crisis. The statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium was set to expire mid-August, and polling conducted in June found many renters and homeowners did not feel confident they could catch up on housing payments by that point. Governor Baker announced Tuesday that moratorium will be extended until October 17, protecting renters and homeowners from foreclosure and eviction at least until then.

Businesses across the state are hurting, regardless of their size. But new polling from The MassINC Polling finds that some factors make businesses much more vulnerable to hardship brought on by the pandemic, whether that's revenue loss or accessibility to aid. Very small businesses, for example, have not applied for PPP as often or received the full amount they applied for as larger businesses.

The industry in which the business resides also has a lot to do with if and to what capacity they're operating. Those that deal in a lot of in-person interactions like education and beauty businesses as well as bars and restaurants are more likely to be closed and less likely to be open completely.

Many small businesses are also women- and/or minority-owned. More than half of businesses owned by women and women of color reported revenue drops of half or more in the first half of 2020.

While Congress turns its attention to a second stimulus package, Boston Indicators is proposing a more permanent form of financial security in the shape of a guaranteed minimum income for lower-income Massachusetts families. This would be executed via reforms to the pre-existing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In the research report, Boston Indicators Director Luc Schuster, points to the systemic income inequities in Massachusetts, and says that given Massachusetts wealth as a state, it has the resources at its disposal to ultimately eliminate poverty. With the EITC as a foundation, Luc says, “It would be pretty easy to just build on top of that to make more categories of households eligible and increase the benefit.”

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