by Gara LaMarche
March 11, 2021
The American Rescue Plan that President Biden just signed into law is a landmark achievement for the advancement of social welfare in the United States – the most significant anti-poverty measure since the Great Society legislation of the Johnson Administration. Hundreds of millions of Americans will get stimulus checks of up to $1,400, unemployment benefits have been extended through September, and state and local governments will get critical aid for vaccinations, school re-openings, and public transportation. An expansion of the Child Tax Credit could cut child poverty in half. There is a significant funding boost for home and community-based services, a surge in Federal Medicaid funding, and tax credits for businesses providing paid leave.
While much credit is due to the Biden Administration, the groundwork was laid for this landmark bill by work that DA Partners supported in the past few years:
- bold policy thinking from the Roosevelt Institute, Demos, the Center for American Progress, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Economic Policy Institute, and other think/action tanks that the DA has recommended for support;
- on the ground organizing by Working Families, Peoples Action, Faith in Action, Community Change, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, MoveOn, Working America, Color of Change, and many other groups at the national and state level bringing the voices of those most affected into the halls of Congress;
- and, crucially, year-in, year-out electoral and civic engagement work – supported by the New American Majority Fund, the Climate Equity Action Fund, the Strategic Victory Fund, the Rural Democracy Initiative, the Women Effect Action Fund, and many others. Without the critical wins last November in Arizona and Georgia, there would be no Senate majority to pass this legislation. More than ever, with millions of children about to climb out of poverty, it is strikingly clear how much elections matter.
Significant as it is, the bill is still a first step toward what is needed to make the U.S. economy work for all of us. We need to press on for permanent changes in our care economy, and for massive infrastructure investments that will rebuild communities and put people to work in sustainable green jobs. We need the Senate to join the House in passing the PRO Act to restore and expand critical labor rights, since strong unions are the best guarantee that workers, the engines of a productive economy, get the respect and support they need to thrive.
And, of course, we need to stay the course on year-round organizing. 2022, where slender control of the House and Senate are at stake, along with key statehouse races, is right around the corner. (And 2021, with important state races in Virginia and New Jersey, is already here!)
This is a moment to celebrate and take pride in the investments that brought us here. I’m proud to be with you on this journey, and look forward to rolling up our sleeves, not just for the vaccinations that are ramping up, but for the critical work ahead.