As our country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are faced with a historic moment.
Before us lies a real chance to make transformative, once-in-a-generation change. The magnitude of the opportunity cannot be overemphasized. If we get distracted by headlines, short-term thinking, and political posturing, we could miss this moment to fix the structural weaknesses in the U.S. economy that were exposed during the pandemic.
Before us lies a real chance to make transformative, once-in-a-generation change.
The good news is that Congress already made a down payment on this recovery effort with the historic coronavirus relief bill passed in March—the American Rescue Plan.
But we know that temporary relief is not enough. We cannot be satisfied with a return to our pre-pandemic society. We have a short window of opportunity to enact transformative change, and Congress is laying the groundwork.
Roads and Bridges Are Not Enough
A bipartisan group of senators are negotiating an infrastructure package. But roads and bridges are not enough to reorient our economy and society to become more just, equitable, and sustainable. Therefore, congressional leaders are preparing an additional recovery bill, which could move through the budget reconciliation process, allowing it to avoid a Senate filibuster.
A Just Economic Recovery Requires More
The White House has outlined key pieces of this recovery legislation, and it is transformative. Overall, it would invest heavily in children. It puts significant funding towards our families, ensuring that no family has to pay more than 7% of their income on childcare, and there are major investments in pre-K and community colleges.
The White House has outlined key pieces of this recovery legislation, and it is transformative.
It would also finally establish a federal paid family and medical leave program in this country. And, crucially, it extends the recent expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), which could cut child poverty in half. These benefits will expire at the end of the year without congressional action.
These proposals recognize the need to act on climate change by establishing a goal to get to 100 % clean power by 2035. The legislation further targets 40% of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities, while simultaneously investing in environmental justice programs.
We also know that a just and equitable recovery must include immigrants. There is a major push to include a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS recipients, and undocumented essential workers in this recovery legislation.
There are many other important provisions in these proposals, such as investing in universal broadband, particularly for tribes and Native communities, and lifting the ban on nutrition assistance for individuals with felony drug convictions.
A Fair and Just Tax Code
President Biden has proposed a number of tax policies that will pay for these investments and bring more fairness and equity to our tax code. The size and scope of this package directly depends upon the taxes raised. The budget reconciliation process, which allows Congress to avoid the filibuster, requires everything be paid for outside the ten-year window. Less revenue means priorities will be cut.
But these tax policies are significant beyond their funding implications. If we’re serious about reshaping our economy, addressing the racial wealth gap, and addressing the growing chasm in inequality, we need to look at our deeply flawed tax code. For instance, 55 of the top Fortune 500 companies paid zero taxes in 2020. Meanwhile, millions of ordinary Americans were left to struggle. That doesn’t make sense.
There is significant public appetite for change in this arena. In a recent poll, voters indicated that improving equity in taxes is a top priority, with 69% of respondents in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. It’s past time to create a fairer, more just system.
Your Voice is Needed
Congress is going to make critical decisions in the coming weeks about what priorities to include and what to cut in recovery legislation. This is the moment to make your voice heard. Write Congress now!