It’s happening, y’all—the Democrats in Congress, with no Republican support whatsoever, have passed the $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief package, and President Joe Biden is expected to sign it on Friday. I am literally crying right now, thinking of all of the people this ambitious legislation will help.
While the relief checks that many Americans will receive has received the most attention, New York magazine’s Eric Levitz has a good summary of what else is included as well as the impacts of this big infusion of cash into people’s pockets and into the coffers of our state and local governments, and all I can say is, give the Democrats—and the progressive movements that flipped the Senate and kept pushing for the relief that people need—their roses when they are due!
Let’s take a look at what the relief package will do. Via New York magazine:
• The average household in the bottom quintile of America’s economic ladder will see its annual income rise by more than 20 percent.
• A family of four with one working parent and one unemployed one will have $12,460 more in government benefits to help them make ends meet.
• The poorest single mothers in America will receive at least $3,000 more per child in government support, along with $1,400 for themselves and additional funds for nutritional assistance and rental aid.
• Child poverty in the U.S. will drop by half.
• More than 1 million unionized workers who were poised to lose their pensions will now receive 100 percent of their promised retirement benefits for at least the next 30 years.
• America’s Indigenous communities will receive $31.2 billion in aid, the largest investment the federal government has ever made in the country’s Native people.
• Black farmers will receive $5 billion in recompense for a century of discrimination and dispossession, a miniature reparation that will have huge consequences for individual African-American agriculturalists, many of whom will escape from debt and retain their land as a direct result of the legislation.
• The large majority of Americans who earn less than $75,000 as individuals or less than $150,000 as couples will receive a $1,400 stimulus check for themselves and another for each child or adult dependent in their care.
• America’s child-care centers will not go into bankruptcy en masse, thanks to a $39 billion investment in the nation’s care infrastructure.
• Virtually all states and municipalities in America will exit the pandemic in better fiscal health than pre-COVID, which is to say a great many layoffs of public employees and cutbacks in public services will be averted.
• No one in the United States will have to devote more than 8.5 percent of their income to paying for health insurance for at least the next two years, while ACA plans will become premium-free for a large number of low-income workers.
• America’s unemployed will not see their federal benefits lapse this weekend and will have an extra $300 to spend every week through the first week in September.
That this is a dramatic shift from the last several decades of the Democratic Party leadership’s approach to social welfare policy goes without saying. It doesn’t include everything that progressives wanted—most notably the $15/hour federal minimum wage—but it does show that what was viewed as wildly optimistic in even the near past is not only possible, but doable. (And hugely popular.)
Now convince Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to kill the filibuster, so we can do even more.