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Make America Fun Again: Pass a Summer Stimulus Now

Todd Buchholz
 

By Todd G. Buchholz and Victoria Buchholz (original source The Wall Street Journal)

“Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam argued in “Bowling Alone” (2000) that Americans were spending less time together. Today, Americans aren’t merely alone—they’re not even bowling. Sports, theaters and restaurants are shut down, and the coronavirus is scaring off frequent flyers. This makes for prudent health policy and a brutal business environment.

Rather than pass an indiscriminate payroll tax cut that drip-feeds dollars and doesn’t ensure recovery in battered sectors, Congress and the White House should target the most vulnerable parts of the economy, which often employ the most vulnerable workers—janitors, ushers, baggage handlers, busboys. We propose that the federal government mail to each American household a debit card preloaded with $500 that can be used for services in the “out of home,” experience economy. Call it a “Menu and Venue Voucher.”

The card would have a start date of July 1, 2020, if public-health authorities relax social-distancing requirements by then, and expire a year later. A school trip to a Picasso exhibit, a bus ride to a bowling tournament, or petting sled dogs from a cruise ship in Alaska would qualify. A Netflix subscription wouldn’t. The point is not to make judgments about taste but to restore the nerve to go out.”

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