(SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic)
[The conversation was recorded on April 12, 2020]
Anu Ramdas: Give me a big picture of how information flows in the US, between the federal government and state governments and how people receive information. For the US stimulus package, how is that we understand so much in detail?
Sundeep Pattem: Let me try to illustrate with an example. I was sitting in on meetings organized by the California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development. This was immediately after the $2 Trillion stimulus package or the CARES Act was passed by the US federal government [end of March 2020]. The Act is a 247 page document with lots of details, but at a high level, individual citizens and families get cheques to cover basic expenses, small businesses get relief, large corporations get relief, they tried to cover almost everyone. Once it got passed, at the State level, they were looking into, in a very detailed manner, how to take care of people and small businesses. There is detailed analysis of what the Act provides, on how businesses can apply for various assistance programs and grants, which state, county, city and other local agencies they can reach out to for assistance. This is available online and circulated via conference calls, emails, newsletters and other channels.