It’s about time.
For generations now, Congress has refused, for the most part, to recognize and act on legislation that actually helps millions of hard working Americans trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Instead, tax cuts and other legislation of all stripes have made life even more satisfying for those who already have everything they need or want and then some. The rest of us got stiffed.
So we had pretty much given up on the people we elected to represent us, deciding that Congress is woefully broken and out of touch with the daily challenges we face. To hide what they were really doing, Congress pitted us one against the other, hoping we would lose sight that we were all in the same boat and would throw each other overboard instead.
Meanwhile, tens of millions of us are out of work (a level not seen since the Great Depression); 22 million of us can’t afford to provide food for ourselves or our families; nearly 1 in 5 of us who pay rent have fallen behind on it; and 81 million of us are struggling to buy necessary household needs.
The child care employment sector is devastated. More than 2.5 million women have been forced to drop out of the workforce in the past year to teach their kids online instead; many of us cannot afford even basic health care; and over a half million of us are dead from COVID.
Not all of this can be chalked up to COVID of course. Congress has in fact been taking from the working class to give to the entitled class for the last 40 years.
The result is that the state we find ourselves in now is something so big only the federal government can fix it.
Enter the “American Rescue Act” Congress passed on March 11. Finally the Congress many of us had given up on came through, and in a big way. No wonder 70 percent of all of us, regardless of political persuasion, support the plan. That’s because, at long last, 85 percent percent of us will directly benefit from it.
This bill is designed to help those of us who earn $75,000 a year or less ($150,000 or less for those of us who file our taxes jointly), and here’s what it means to you and your family:
• For starters, all of us will receive a direct stimulus check for $1,400. A family of four will receive a check for $5,600.
• To lift up those of us with dependent children 17 years old and younger, monthly child-credit payments of $250 to $300 will begin this July. This single move will cut childhood poverty in America in half.
• For those of us who have lost our jobs, $300 weekly unemployment payments will run through Labor Day.
• For those of us who can’t afford medical care, health insurance premiums will go down from 150 percent to zero.
• $350 billion will be coming to state and local governments to shore up devastation from COVID.
• There is funding to help struggling families for food, rent and mortgage assistance.
Here’s high fives to President Joe Biden and those in Congress who stood up for us.
To those in Congress who refused to vote for the bill, complaining about the deficits they themselves created in handouts to their well-funded and demanding donors over the years, shame on you for trying to sink our leaky boat once and for all.
Diane Tilson, chair, Watauga County Democratic Party