Adversity is a call for action. When the United States faced an economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude in the 1930s, FDR proposed a bold piece of legislation. He introduced radical new ideas including pensions for retired Americans (Social Security) and government insurance for bank deposits to protect the savings of private citizens. These components, among other protections for the working class and unemployed, were encompassed in the landmark New Deal.
We face crises of similar intensity now, except on two different fronts: the economy and public health. As we enter the second year of the pandemic, there is a light at the end of the tunnel regarding positive vaccine news. But we are not out of the woods yet. Our country needs a New “New Deal” to begin the healing process and return to a new normal.
Enter the American Rescue Plan.
Called “the boldest action taken on behalf of the American people since the Great Depression” by House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Pete Aguilar, the bill aims to serve as a stimulus to the lethargic economy and provide relief for millions of struggling Americans. Put simply, this legislation is the groundwork for a modern-era New Deal.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the American Rescue Plan is that it could help half of all children living in poverty through tax credits: specifically, 40% of white children, 50% of Black children, and 61.5% of Native American children could be lifted out of poverty. For eligible low-income families, these child tax credits will be life changing.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who has worked for 18 years to implement child tax credits, reflected that the legislation has “built the architecture for lifting families out of poverty.” Just as the New Deal established long-term programs that benefit countless Americans today, the American Rescue Plan is a building block on the road to eliminate poverty in America.
Not only will the plan work to reduce child poverty, it will provide $130 billion dollars for safe school reopenings, $350 billion for cities and states in the fight against the pandemic, and over $50 billion to vaccine distribution and infection tracing efforts. Unemployment benefits previously set to expire in March will be extended to September. The plan’s safety nets serve exactly the same purpose as the New Deal’s: to save America.
The American Rescue Plan is designed for all Americans—not only for Democrats or Republicans, white or Black, rich or poor. In fact, the plan has garnered noticeable bipartisan support from the public (though not Republican politicians in Washington). According to Data for Progress, 54 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of Independents, and 84 percent of Democrats support it.
Our country is at a turning point. Go big or go home, as they say. The American Rescue Plan can rescue us from the brink of disaster. The New Deal greatly lifted the American spirit and provided hope to those in need. Similarly, just under 100 years later, the American Rescue Plan is doing the same.
Photo Credit: forbes.com/sites/andrewpulrang/2021/01/23/5-ways-bidens-american-rescue-plan-could-help-people-with-disabilities/?sh=34ddb3637ca4