Urge Congress to support an equitable economic recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated deep-rooted economic and racial injustices in American society. Years of underinvestment in caregiving, health care, child care, and other aspects of the social safety net laid a shaky foundation for the country’s pandemic response, intensifying its impact on Communities of Color and marginalized communities that have suffered the greatest consequences.
To rebuild the American economy and address the structural inequities that long preceded the pandemic, the House of Representatives has put forward a comprehensive package of investments to improve access to education, health care, and economic security for workers and families across the United States. With President Biden’s proposal as a starting place, Congress must enact legislation that addresses the scourge of economic inequity and uplifts millions of poor and middle-class families—especially People of Color, who experience disproportionate obstacles to prosperity due to the systemic racism embedded in our nation for generations.Millions of lives and livelihoods hang in the balance.
Urge your members of Congress to support provisions of the Build Back Better plan that ensure an equitable economic recovery for workers and families across the United States.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 34 million Americans were living below the poverty line, and even millions of middle-class families were struggling to put food on the table. Unemployment, hunger, and housing insecurity have skyrocketed during the pandemic, with families of Color facing the most severe hardships. The American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319) enacted much-needed emergency relief, but these measures are only temporary, and they do not address the root causes of economic injustice.
Wages have not kept pace with productivity growth since the 1960s, leading to soaring economic inequality. Working parents struggle to balance their caregiving responsibilities and their careers, and the U.S. remains the only high-income country that does not guarantee paid family leave. Nearly half of renter households are defined as “cost-burdened,” meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their household income on rent and have fewer resources available to cover other basic needs. Low-income working families spend more than one-third of their income on child care. Millions of families are just one paycheck away from slipping into poverty. Due to racial discrimination, segregation, and other forms of systemic racism embedded in every aspect of our economy, these injustices take the greatest toll on Communities of Color.
The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the urgency of robust economic recovery legislation. The U.S. cannot afford to ignore the structural causes of poverty, economic insecurity, and racial inequity perpetuated by decades of discrimination and disinvestment. Congress must address deep-rooted inequities, cut child poverty, and enable all workers and families to live with greater security and dignity. Comprehensive economic recovery legislation should include the following policies:
- A comprehensive, national system of paid family and medical leave;
- Expand Medicaid to close the Medicaid gap in the 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act'
- Improvements to nutrition assistance programs, including the permanent extension of Summer EBT to combat child hunger during the summer months;
- Repeal of the lifelong ban on SNAP benefits for people convicted of drug felonies;
- Permanent benefit increases and expanded eligibility for the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax (EITC). The American Rescue Plan’s one-year improvements to the CTC should be made permanent, in contrast with President Biden’s plan to temporarily extend them through 2025.
- Federal reforms to Unemployment Insurance (UI) that ensure adequate support for all unemployed workers and automatically provide robust benefits during future economic crises;
- Universal, high-quality preschool and robust investments in affordable child care;
- Equal access to programs for all immigrant workers and families;
- Rental assistance and construction of affordable housing that meets the scale of the crisis of housing insecurity. Congress should guarantee housing vouchers for all eligible renters.
Judaism teaches that safeguarding economic security and supporting those in need are fundamental obligations of tzedek, or justice. The great sage and Torah scholar Rashi instructed us to uplift our neighbors in times of need and “strengthen [them] as [they] begin to fall,” preventing them from slipping into poverty in the first place. These words inspire our commitment to supporting the millions of families struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads, manage medical expenses, care for family members, or enjoy equitable access to education that allows people to fulfill their potential.
For More Information
You can email your elected officials through our form, or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask to speak directly with their offices. For more information on this issue, visit the RAC’s webpage on economic justice or contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Lillie Heyman.