Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban has a prescription for what’s ailing the American COVID-rocked economy: An infusion of cash with an expiration date.
“The concept of PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) was great,” he said. “But though it was approved in the first couple days of April, companies didn’t see it until weeks later. Because of that delay, a lot of companies have had to lay people off …we see that with 36 million people unemployed and who knows how (many) people with reduced hours or reduced pay. The (total) number could be about 50 million.”
Now that companies are starting to see that money, Cuban said, workers, consumers, and companies are in a Catch-22: Though business owners are starting to get money from PPP, they can’t fully open in most municipalities across the country. And, he said, a lot of their employees don’t want to be called back to work, because they’ll lose the incremental unemployment insurance income.
Cuban added that, because employees or unemployed individuals have lost faith in their financial futures, they’re not spending the money
“Because of that lack of confidence, we’ve seen the savings rate increase to more than it’s been in over 40 years, which means money is not going into the economy,” he said. “If it’s not being spent on things beyond the essentials—utilities, broadband, mortgages—but also cakes, cookies, and bicycles—the nonessentials—then businesses aren’t going to have the demand (they need) for when they reopen.”
Cuban’s solution: Over the course of two months, give $1,000 per U.S. household every other week, on the condition that it be spent within 10 days. If it’s not spent, consumers would lose it.
Cuban made those statements during a virtual Dallas Regional Chamber Board of Advisors meeting on Wednesday, May 20, which was moderated by WFAA-TV’s Cynthia Izaguirre, and featured AT&T as the presenting sponsor and the Jim Ross Law Group as Platinum Sponsor.
The interview was wide-ranging, from when the Dallas Mavs would be back playing before fans in arenas (a date remains uncertain) to whether he would be pitching his hat into the ring for the presidential race (a definite “no” for 2020, but a solid “maybe” for 2024).
The main thrust of the questions, however, dealt with strategies—both individual and national for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In that vein, Cuban suggested a national program for COVID testing, which employs workers to expand testing and tracing, and even to serve at-risk populations for COVID-19.
The Mavs owner expressed disappointment with leadership from the federal level and added that one key to restoring national consumer confidence would be a national jobs program.
“One, a vaccine would be the biggest thing,” Cuban said, adding that he’s hoping for a vaccine before the end of the year. “Two, I think we need a federal jobs program. I think with 36 million unemployed and more underemployed, we’re going have to have a transitional—not permanent—but transitional federal jobs program. [Then] we can start hiring millions of people that can do productive jobs that have a positive impact on the country. I’ll start with tracking and tracing.”
He said those workers would be able to feed that testing data into a central point to make testing uniform and to easier identify hotspots nationwide.
A version of this story appeared on the Dallas Regional Chamber’s website.
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