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U.S. will ‘need more’ COVID relief beyond Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal: former Citigroup vice chairman

Max Zahn with Andy Serwer
·3-min read

During his first full day in office, President Joe Biden on Thursday vowed a “full-scale wartime effort” to address the coronavirus pandemic, which includes a previously announced $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal that calls for spending on vaccine distribution, a $400 unemployment insurance supplement, and $1,400 stimulus checks.

The new administration’s commitment to aggressively address COVID-19 came amid news that 900,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims last week — a slight drop from the week prior but an elevated figure otherwise not seen since last August.

In a new interview, Democratic New York City mayoral candidate and former Citigroup vice chairman Ray McGuire applauded the Biden administration’s stimulus proposal but emphasized that the scale of the COVID-19 crisis will require additional government support beyond the nearly $2 trillion promised.

Stimulus funds must target low-income people, especially those in communities of color that have suffered acutely from the pandemic, he said.

“We welcome the assistance,” McGuire tells Yahoo Finance. “We will need more.”

“We will need more in order for this country to make sure that it addresses the least of these Americans,” he says. “New Yorkers are suffering from the COVID economy [and] injustices across the system.”

“We’ve got the existential crisis,” he adds. “This COVID pandemic has ripped and ripped through our communities and wrought havoc on many communities, especially disproportionately on Black and brown communities.”

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s budget deficit had ballooned to more than $5 billion, citing unexpected pandemic-related costs and a decline in tax revenue. The Biden stimulus would likely alleviate some of the fiscal pain, since the proposal allocates $350 billion for state and local governments.

The budget deficit “is going to be material in this city,” McGuire says. “We need to repair that.”

So far, more than 30 candidates have filed to run for New York City mayor, including former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and MSNBC contributor Maya Wiley. Earlier this month, McGuire said his campaign had raised more than $5 million, putting him among the race’s top fundraisers.

McGuire spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

McGuire entered the New York City mayoral race after 15 years at Citigroup, where he served most recently as the global head of corporate and investment banking. Before that, he climbed through the ranks in banking in stints at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.

He was raised by a single mother in Dayton, Ohio, and went on to Harvard University where he earned law and business degrees.

Ray McGuire, a New York City mayoral candidate and former vice chairman at Citigroup, appears on "Influencers with Andy Serwer."
Ray McGuire, a New York City mayoral candidate and former vice chairman at Citigroup, appears on "Influencers with Andy Serwer."

Billionaires in the U.S. added $1 trillion to their net worth during the coronavirus outbreak, according to an Americans for Tax Fairness analysis released in December.

The ultra-rich in New York City and elsewhere accumulated that wealth while tens of millions of workers nationwide have lost their jobs, exacerbating inequality that had already reached heightened levels before the pandemic.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance, McGuire said the well-off will need to pay additional taxes in order to help New York City recover.

“Everything needs to be on the table, including taxes,” he says. “Those who have the resources, like me and others, will have to contribute more.”

But he emphasized that economic growth will ultimately drive the recovery in New York City.

“We can't tax our way out of this,” he says.

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