The world faces an unprecedented crisis in the form of the coronavirus pandemic. New York has become the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, and the actions taken here will have an outsized impact on the course of the crisis.
It is imperative that New York’s elected officials choose a path that empowers the working class, people of color, and low-income families, rather than the wealthy. During this crisis acts that were considered extraordinary yesterday will be enacted tomorrow. It is up to those of us in the Green Party and on the Left to ensure that those measures benefit working New Yorkers, and that we push for the most comprehensive, democratic, and ecosocialist version of those measures.
Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature must act to ensure the health and well being of all New Yorkers. This requires far more than quarantines: we need a fully built and funded social safety net so that everyone can receive medical care without fear of its cost, to be ensured they will have a home and income during the crisis, and a job afterwards. Therefore we call for the Governor and State Legislature to enact:
Universal Basic Income: No one should have to worry about whether and how they can afford to live. We propose a universal basic income supplement to all New Yorkers 18 and above, so that they are able to live comfortably during this crisis. A bare minimum of $1000/month, non-taxable, with regional adjustments upwards based on cost-of-living, should be provided immediately.
Paid Medical Leave: We call for mandatory minimum 14-day paid medical leave for all workers as well as parents of K-12 students forced to remain home due to school closure. This should be permanent going forward even after the end of the COVID-19 threat.
Company Reimbursement for Paid Medical Leave: The state government should reimburse small businesses for the cost of paid medical leave during the crisis, and develop legislation to ensure the burden of 14-day paid medical leave is shared equitably by businesses afterwards.
Guaranteed Employment: No one should lose their job as a consequence of the coronavirus. Employers should be required to reinstate workers that have taken paid medical leave, and benefits should continue to accrue to workers on paid medical leave.
Unemployment Benefits: New York State should ensure that anyone that loses their job should have access to extended unemployment benefits, especially at a time when businesses may furlough or lay off workers due to the economic effects of the pandemic. Unemployment benefits should be extended for at least an additional six months.
Hospital Testing & Related Costs: Until such time as the New York Health Act is passed, the state government should ensure no one should pay for testing or costs related to COVID-19 whether or not they have health insurance.
Health Insurance Companies’ Responsibility: Until such time as the New York Health Act is passed, the state government should ensure that health insurance companies should be required to waive all deductibles and copays for services related to COVID-19.
Statewide Moratorium on Rental and Mortgage Delinquency Evictions: No person should be made homeless because of the economic situation caused by the current pandemic. The state should enact an immediate moratorium on rental and mortgage delinquency evictions.
The New York Health Act: The unprecedented threat of the coronavirus has exposed the cruelty and inadequacy of the American for-profit healthcare system. New York should pass the New York Health Act and phase-in single-payer universal healthcare, which would guarantee every New Yorker healthcare and eliminate the threat of medical debt and medical bankruptcy. It would also reduce costs, and help solve the Medicaid budget gap New York is currently facing.
Tax the Rich: the state should pass several progressive taxation measures to ensure the funds necessary for the increased social services.
By building a response based on principles of equity and social justice, New York has a chance to humanely deal with an unprecedented crisis. It is clear that the neoliberal and piecemeal policies of just yesterday are inadequate dogma that cannot prevent the catastrophic spread of the virus or its aftereffects. Now is the time for bold action that charts a better course for the future of the people of New York. Let us work together to build an empowering, grassroots democratic society that protects and cares for all its members.
The Green Party of New York