March 2021 Letter From the President
The Biden administration passed The American Rescue Plan which can only be described as a rational, essential crisis-management plan with heart! The COVID-19 pandemic has created a national emergency not only because of a public health crisis but an economic crisis that has devastated families across the country. Almost 30 million Americans have contracted COVID- 19, and over half a million have died. The crisis spans big cities and small towns with too many Americans struggling to fight the disease while trying to eke out a living. The pandemic has also highlighted the extent of racial injustice in our healthcare system and our economy. With food insecurity increasing, small businesses cratering, and housing insecurity reaching epic propor-
tions, the nation remains in a deep economic crisis. A crisis that is begging for the containment of this virus as we provide succor and support to those affected disproportionately by it.
The 2021 American Rescue Plan, the second anti-poverty plan since Lyndon Johnson’s fifty years ago, is geared towards changing the course of the pandemic while addressing racial injustice and economic deprivation. Johnson initiated Medicare; Medicaid; food stamps (SNAP); aid for women, infants, and children (WIC); school breakfasts; Pell Grants; Head Start; and Section 8 housing vouchers. Biden enhances those and simultaneously tackles the gargantuan problem of the pandemic. The plan mounts a national vaccination program to combat COVID-19, by setting up community vaccination sites nationwide, scaling up testing and tracing, eliminating supply shortage problems, investing in high-quality treatments, providing paid sick leave to contain the spread of the virus, addressing healthcare disparities, and making the necessary investments to meet the president’s goal of safely reopening schools and commerce. And, more importantly, it addresses the issue of child poverty.
Working families will receive $1,400 per-person checks across America to ease their financial burden. The bill will also extend a $300 per week unemployment insurance boost until September 6 and expand the child tax credit for a year. Direct housing and nutrition assistance will be provided, with expanded access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable healthcare. Extension of unemployment insurance will give families an emergency boost this year. The jobs of the first responders, transit workers, and other essential workers will be protected and emergency funding will be provided to upgrade federal information technology infrastructure and address the recent breaches of federal government data systems.
Schools will be provided the resources they need to reopen safely, Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds expanded, emergency paid leave even for federal workers assured, unemployment insurance benefits increased, the 15% Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increased, and families protected from eviction or foreclosure. It will provide help to women, infants, and children through WIC, a multi-year investment in a special supplemental nutrition plan. A partnership with restaurants will feed families and keep restaurant workers on the job. Frontline essential workers will receive hazard pay retroactively. High-quality, affordable child care will be expanded, tax credits will be increased to help cover the cost of childcare; and extra support will be given to states to cover the additional cash assistance that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients need. Health coverage will be preserved and expanded, with adequate funding for veterans. The increased risk of gender-based violence will be addressed, including supplemental funding for key federal programs that protect survivors.
Funding is also provided for states, local governments, territories, and tribal governments. There are protections for educators, public transit workers, and first responders. Small businesses will be acquire funding they need to reopen and rebuild. The plan also provides protections for public transportation and aims to modernize federal information technology to protect against future cyber attacks.
It is an ambitious plan that attempts to redress many wrongs of societal injustice and economic inequality. Every Democrat voted for it, while no Republican did. They had happily passed a bill under Trump that cut taxes for the rich. This bill does exactly the opposite. It is an attempt to close the income gap a little—a small step towards a gigantic goal. Altruism, empathy and concern are back in focus. We can make this world a better place, one bill at a time!
President, Woman’s National Democratic Club
President, Woman’s National Democratic Club