This week, 306-232 Electoral College winner, President Joe Biden, will sign his first major policy achievement. The American Rescue Plan provides a whopping $1.9 trillion support and stimulus boost, which is overwhelmingly directed to the widest swath of middle-class and poor Americans.
This is a dramatic changeup for what most of America has experienced in the past. “Stimulus” has usually meant overwhelming largess dished out to the richest Americans and corporations, with regular folks suffering just sufficient crumbs off the rich man’s table to keep complaints and revolt against the unjust system manageable. The poor and working folk graciously receive small bits, while American Fat Cats engorged on multiple cornucopias of feasts. This has generally been past “tax reform” and “stimulus.”
Donald Trump’s “Tax Reform” surely did lower taxes a percent or two for the working class. But rich corporations and “flow-through” businesses got breaks, decimating their taxes or even eliminating them entirely! We’ve been told so long that, “What’s good for business owners is good for America,” and everything “trickles down” in the long run. Yet, year and year… the American rich grew richer, and our working class stagnated and our poor got even poorer. Income inequality has now reached soaring heights not seen since the go-go days of the Roaring Twenties and with its Great Gatsby’s and Rockefellers.
And Proposition 13 has long benefitted large commercial real estate holders far above regular Joe Homeowners. But the general homeowner population gets a small share, so we don’t care that REITS and other commercial real estate holders save billions upon billions, skipping on tax obligations through Prop. 13’s intentional fat cat loopholes.
So, it’s a shock to the system and public expectation when America was turned on its head when this president, previously called “Sleepy,” very quickly and efficiently unleashed a new, “New Deal” on America. The American Rescue Plan isn’t a bailout for the Fortune 500. It doesn’t create ever-new tax loopholes for the well-heeled. Rather, it’s firmly focused directly at working folk, like the ones here in Canyon Country, Saugus, Valencia, Palmdale and L.A. County. It’s aimed at all Americans who’ve struggled and fought their way through this COVID-19 disaster. It benefits cities, states and schools that have experienced revenue decreases matched to COVID-19-related cost increases.
Long overdue, the act provides direct, $300-per-month, per-child, support to every family in America. No preference across the board, all Americans get this benefit for families with kids under 18. While $300 might be a small spiff to the rich, $300 per month per kid is lifesaving for America’s poorest and working class, and will ensure food on the table, perhaps rent paid, maybe sports programs or books and clothes, and lift up to 12 million families out of poverty.
Imagine this: America, long fighting for the rights of the unborn, now finally backing that conviction up with solid support for kids once they’re out of the womb! Three hundred dollars per kid per month goes a long way for the marginalized and may well provide sufficient breathing room for kids to get better nutrition, better education, better health care and ultimately, better life opportunities to eliminate inter-generational poverty. It’s a democratic equalizer and is almost certain to become permanent when the Rescue Plan’s timeline runs out.
And there’s the extension of unemployment benefits until September. While most have stayed employed, others have been hammered by COVID-19, with few options until after the pandemic. This has been a very divided and uneven recession – wiping out some while actually improving finances for others. Biden’s response ensures the widest groups benefit, so that the fewest are overlooked.
Least but most discussed are Biden’s direct stimulus checks of $1,400 per individual earning up to $75,000 and $2,400 per couple earning up to $150,000. These sums add up in aggregate to directly protect family finances — while importantly stimulating their local and state economies. It’s an injection of money at the exact point of use that benefits the middle and poor classes most, and spreads money evenly through our communities. Extra money means extra spending as businesses reopen, and this kind of stimulus directly hits the streets where it matters, instead of ending up as more millions or billions already lining the gilded pockets of the billionaire and multi-millionaire few.
Some may say this Rescue Plan reeks of “socialism.” Some may say it rewards the “undeserving.” That it will “ruin moral rectitude” and reduce work ethic. What of the trillions previously gifted upon our most rich? Did they stop working or slow down? Let’s ask Elon Musk and Warren Buffet if tax breaks and giveaways hurt their character. And this time, let’s aim our help at the regular guy.
This time, American government is focused on real, regular Americans and our American institutions impacted by COVID-19. This time, the stimulus will aid local citizens, our local city, our schools, our states. Consider Anaheim, for example, which has lost most all its commercial tax base with Disneyland and hotels closed. Or Las Vegas. Or right here in the SCV, with Magic Mountain and Carnival Cruises impacted. This act mitigates the local tax loss damage so our local governments can continue to provide services upon which we depend.
Yes, some undeserving people and places will benefit in the mix. But this is a pittance compared to the substantial sums underpinning and supporting everyday working and unemployed Americans all around.
Joe Biden just reengineered American government back to Americans themselves. Let’s be glad the American Rescue Plan passed, and now let’s watch as American anxiety, and depression, and the pandemic fades — while our economy roars back evenly, fairly — with nearly every American benefiting from the effort and the American Rescue Plan.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.