WHAT’S A COUPLE OF TRILLION bucks buy you these days? Gripes, impatience, distortions and the attention of every telephone fraudster, digital troll and social media predator that crawls out of the dark web. And this happens before most of the money reaches the people it’s intended to help.
That’s not entirely true. The last experience the country had with such a large domestic stimulus program was the tax break of 2017, when the biggest winners were the wealthiest people—the ones who needed it least. Very few of them complained.
But enough macro economics. What’s in this latest anti-virus law for the rest of us? As it turns out, quite a bit. Details about the new law are emerging, including the aid for the 11 counties in the 19th Congressional District, which includes all of Columbia County. Start with $400 million that will go directly to the municipalities of the district—counties, towns and villages. There is money for school districts, too. Based on population, this county will get $11.6 million as a part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP).
In the House of Representatives, it was Congressman Antonio Delgado (D-19th) who wrote this part of the ARP. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) made sure that part of the new law got through the Senate.
The new law designates funds to help schools of all kinds open safely while the pandemic remains a threat. The law funds childcare and early learning, extends unemployment benefits and increases the tax exemption for those benefits; it funds rental and homeowner assistance and aid for small landlords left without income. There’s money for the care of older adults and for mental health services.
The law will also help agriculture and secure our food supply chain. There is more support for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Child Tax Credit will be raised.
For individuals earning less than $75,000 a year there will be $1,400 direct stimulus checks. And with all that, there’s still $20 billion for a national Covid-19 Vaccination Program.
In a telephone and digital “town hall” meeting this week (his 54th) Rep. Delgado responded to a caller from Dutchess County who cited a misleading figure that asserts Covid-19 relief funds make up only 9% of the ARP funding. Mr. Delgado politely but with passion explained the connection between the deadly virus and the toll it takes on all aspects of our lives, our economy and the ties that make up our society.
Her criticism assumes that the virus functions in a manner that’s isolated from humanity. Nothing could be further from the truth. The damage Covid-19 has done to the nation affects all aspects of our lives and the new law reflects the range of needs we have if we are to recover. But her willingness to accept propaganda that underestimates how much damage the virus has done has a darker side. There are people who have profited from the pandemic in ways out of proportion to any contributions they have made. And intentionally or not, she repeats the distortions of the small but powerful pandemic profiteers.
Her concerns also confirm that the ARP is a different sort of law than the ones we’re used to seeing from Congress in recent years. It is legislation that addresses some of the root causes that make so many people so vulnerable to a virus that can be controlled in large part by wearing cloth masks and frequently washing our hands. It directs funding to the neediest though the country as a whole will ultimately get the benefits.
The critics are just beginning to crank up the ARP disinformation machine. They will demand to know: How dare we, as a nation, give “unearned” cash, protection, social services and business opportunities to help people recover from the assault of a virus?
Well, we’re about to find out.
If you have a question about, or a problem with, the ARP, Congressman Delgado is the person to call. He knows the law because he wrote some of it. At the town hall events he urges constituents to call him and his staff. His number is 845-443-2930.