I’m sure you’re excited about President Biden signing the American Rescue Plan (the COVID relief bill) into law yesterday, but there are some exciting provisions in the bill that aren’t making a lot of news yet.
We all know about the $1,400 relief checks that will start arriving at households really soon, but this is a HUGE piece of legislation and there are a TON of provisions in the bill. Here are 5 lesser known provisions that stood out to me:
It does more to tackle child poverty than any bill since the 1950s! “The Biden child allowance converts the existing child tax credit into a near-universal benefit of up to $3,600 annually for kids 5 and younger and $3,000 annually for those ages 6 to 17.” (source) ““Though framed in technocratic terms as an expansion of an existing tax credit, it is essentially a guaranteed income for families with children.” (source) An analysis by the Urban Institute found that all of the bill’s provisions put together could lift 16 million people out of poverty, and could cut the poverty rate of children by a touch more than 50%!
There is huge expansion of healthcare benefits! The bill offers subsidies to help low-income people in states that didn’t expand Medicaid purchase health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and now enrollees will pay no more than 8.5% of their income in coverage (it’s currently 10%.) For some households, their premiums will be eliminated for two years. The bill also provides financial assistance to people who have been laid off and want to remain on COBRA. (source)
Minority farmers get a big boost! The $4 billion in debt relief for socially disadvantaged farmers “comes at the end of a generation-long campaign dating from the so-called Pigford settlement of 1999, in which the USDA acknowledged decades of bias against Black farmers in its farm loan and other assistance programs.” (source)
It shores up underfunded pension plans! The bill includes $86B to provide “financial assistance to underfunded multiemployer pension plans facing critical or declining financial status. … The legislation provides extensive assistance to pension plans that were suffering long before the COVID-19 pandemic and ensures that many retirees will receive their full benefits.” (source)
There’s a big investment in Native American programs! The $31.2 billion for tribal governments and Native communities “will go directly to helping American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians focus on economic recovery in their communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” It includes $6B for Native health systems as well. (source)
For a good article that outlines the major portions of this legislation, check out CNN’s Here’s what’s in the Covid relief package, or this great infographic from the Center for American Progress:
Now, our mission is to keep talking about (and sharing!) information about what this game changer of a bill does. We don’t want ANY voters walking into the midterms and NOT know that they can thank the Democrats for delivering the biggest piece of legislation to help regular Americans in decades!
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Tokyo, thanks for the elaboration. Keith
PS – I am also happy to learn the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits will now be tax free for LAST YEAR (2020) for those making less than $150,000. That will help many folks who did not know they had taxes due.
Once again congress is forgetting that 17 and 18 year old’s are juniors and seniors in high school just like they did in 2017. Those parents need help too. Why does congress penalize parents of juniors and seniors in high school? What do they have against the future voters?