It’s a joy to be able to share good news for everyone who’s been striving to prevent a massive rise in hunger, evictions, and to prevent havoc to students from preschool through college. Please read this overview, and call your member of Congress today.

The American Rescue Plan, which Congress is expected to pass and the President to sign in the coming days, includes major investments that some analysts say could cut child poverty in half in the United States.  Chief of these is an expansion in the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 a year for children under 6, and $3,000 for children 6-17, of parents earning less than $112,500 and couples earning under $150,000. This will be paid monthly by direct deposit as a fully-refundable tax credit, which means families get it even if it exceeds their tax bill.  Child care credits would rise as well.

This is in addition to $1,400 in stimulus payments going to all dependents of households earning less than $150,000 a couple, or $75,000 for single heads of household. The law “would overwhelmingly help low-earners and the middle class,” reported Jim Tankersley in a front-page story in The New York Times, Sunday, March 7 (“Biden Lifts Poor to Help The Recovery”).

Tankersley cites a study of Census data by Lena Simet, a researcher on poverty at Human Rights Watch, reporting that “nearly half of American households earning less than $35,000 fell behind on housing payments.”To lift these families above looming economic disaster, Investopedia reports that the American Rescue Plan:

  • provides $300/week in federal unemployment benefits through Labor Day;
  • provides 100% subsidy of downsized workers’ COBRA payments through September;
  • aids families, landlords, and lenders with $30 billion in rental assistance and $10 billion in
    mortgage assistance;
  • extends the 15% increase in SNAP (food stamp) benefits from June to September;
  • adds $5 billion to emergency food aid for schoolchildren and $800 million to WIC
  • provides $40 billion in emergency financial aid to college students and makes student loan forgiveness from 2021 through 2025 tax free
  • provides $40 billion to child care providers
  • provides $130 billion to help K-12 schools open safely, funding ventilation and smaller class sizes.

The bill provides significant relief to small businesses, especially bars and restaurants, making federal loans forgivable for expenses including rent and utilities, as well as payroll.

In a March 8 post, the Tax Policy Center reported that almost 70% of the tax credits and savings of the Biden bill would go households making under $91,000. This is in marked contrast to the tax cuts passed at the end of 2017: almost half of the savings went to the top 5% of earners. The Tax Policy Center is collaboration of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming,  and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team.