American Rescue Plan Act is a life raft for the working class
A year into this pandemic, there are two realities in this country: while the market closes at record highs, more than 45 million Americans don’t have enough to eat, and a quarter of all Americans have been laid off. But the American Rescue Plan Act is set to turn things around for Ohio families – not just for now, but well beyond this recovery.
After Congressional Democrats passed the bill and it was signed into law by President Biden last week, more than five million Ohioans are set to receive $1,400 payments that will help them put food on their tables and keep a roof over their heads. Federal unemployment aid was extended through September to give folks who have fallen on hard times the help they need as they look for work. And now, struggling small businesses will get a spot at the front of the line for relief so they can hold on through the tail end of this crisis.
This legislation will be a life raft for hardworking people during a once-in-a-generation crisis, but in no way is it a short-term fix. The American Rescue Plan Act could transform our working class well into the future. For instance, I’ve spent years fighting to pass the Butch Lewis Act to shore up multi-employer pension plans so folks who worked hard get the money they earned throughout their retirement; this bill does just that and will restore pensions for more than 40,000 Ohioans.
The American Rescue Plan Act also creates a novel child tax credit program – which some have compared to Social Security for families with children. It will provide guaranteed income of up to $3,600 per child to eligible families and focuses on the families who are struggling most. This benefit means hardworking families will be able to focus on their kids’ basic needs instead of choosing between buying groceries or putting gas in their cars. Just as Social Security benefits drastically cut poverty among our country’s seniors, estimates expect that the child tax credit program passed this week could put us on track to cut child poverty in this country in half.
The American Rescue Plan Act is a massive win for the working class in Ohio and across the country. It should be celebrated for moving the ball forward on behalf of average men and women – and not big banks or the wealthy and well-connected. But Congress must not rest on our laurels. You may have heard choice words I had for my Republican colleagues on the House floor last week when I railed against those who refuse to empower our workers.
No matter what party you vote for, we must all believe in the fundamental American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To make good on that promise, I’m determined to keep making bold strokes on behalf of the men and women who are working hard and playing by the rules. That means we must continue the momentum of what we have just accomplished, and we must ensure every American has reliable, affordable health coverage; we must increase the minimum wage so people in communities like ours don’t have to work three or four jobs just to make ends meet; and we must make big improvements to our infrastructure so folks in every community have access to broadband.
Last week, House and Senate Democrats made a down payment on behalf of American workers, but we still have more work to do.
Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan is serving his ninth term representing Northeast Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the House Appropriations Committee.
You can read this article as it appeared in full in the Cincinnati Enquirer here.