On March 10, Congress and President Joe Biden rose to meet the urgency of this moment with their passage of the federal American Rescue Plan. The plan invests nearly $2 trillion to help residents in Michigan and around the country who are still struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s no coincidence that this plan to literally “rescue” struggling residents hinges heavily on the safety net and supports that have always been there for people with lower incomes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the League has been imploring our federal government to step up to help Michigan residents get through this health emergency and related economic crisis. Many of the policies and programs that Congress has invested in as part of the latest relief bill are things the League lifted up a year ago as prescriptions to limit COVID’s economic impact, especially on families who were already struggling. Frankly, those issues are the same ones we have been advocating for for years and even decades—they were not created by a pandemic, but rather by a generation of disinvestment.
The American Rescue Plan includes significant funding to increase the Child Tax Credit for parents and expand the federal Earned Income Tax Credit to more workers, and also includes significant investment in child care—a key component to supporting working parents and helping jumpstart the economy.. Some other major highlights of the COVID relief package that will help Michigan families stay afloat include:
- Increased housing assistance and an extension of increased SNAP food benefits to help people families keep their homes and afford food;
- Extended pandemic unemployment assistance through September 6th;
- Financial assistance to help people meet urgent expenses, such as rent, groceries, utility bills, and car payments, delivered through expanded tax credits and stimulus payments; and
- Improved access to affordable health coverage through enhanced premium tax credits for people with low incomes and middle-class families.
The Rescue Plan also includes much-needed state and local government fiscal relief to help our communities thrive. In addition, there are dedicated funds to support schools that can be used to pay for the cost of distance learning, safe in-person instruction, caring for the physical and mental health of returning students, and addressing the enormous learning loss students have suffered.
Overall, the American Rescue Plan provides much-needed, but temporary, relief. As we have approached the one-year mark of the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, it has become increasingly clear that economic recovery isn’t going to happen overnight, particularly for people of color, who have waited longest in past recessions to see the gains from a rebounding job market. Much more needs to be done to build a more equitable economy that works for everyone.
The League is very grateful to the members of Michigan’s congressional delegation who voted for the American Rescue Plan. And we urge all of our federal representatives and members from around the country to work together—regardless of their party—to enact permanent policies that will reduce the longstanding inequities that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis.