The American rescue plan has finally passed Congress and is now awaiting signature by President Biden. The $1.9 trillion dollar plan ‘rescues’ American families from the COVID-19 crisis and provides funding for much-needed resources that we need. From rental assistance to COVID-19 vaccines, this bill aims to solve the pressing issues that Americans are facing as they navigate one year of this pandemic without relief. Although the one time payment of $1400 is simply not enough to see Americans through this crisis, one thing it has made clear is that the Republican party is not only devolving into QGOP, but the fact that Donald Trump lingers in the shadows and is actively planning to take over the Republican party with his own vision of what it should be is alarming. The delay of Congress to not only kill the filibuster, but pass John Lewis Voting Rights Act, is manifesting in the legislature is across the United States most of them controlled by Republicans, passing extremist laws that prevent people from voting and take away ballot drop off boxes among many other measures, because they can’t win when they can’t suppress votes.
Here is what is in the American Rescue Plan according to CBS News:
- $1,400 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000
- $350 billion dollars in aid to state and local governments and $14 billion for vaccine distribution.
- The bill also provides $130 billion to elementary, middle and high schools to assist with safe reopening.
- It includes an additional $300 billion in weekly jobless benefits through September and an expanded tax credit of up to $3,600 per child, initially distributed in monthly installments.
- The child tax credit could raise 4 million children out of poverty, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
- More than $50 billion will be distributed to small businesses, including $7 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program.
- The bill also provides $25 billion for relief for small and mid-sized restaurants, which have suffered significantly during the pandemic.
- It also incentivizes states to expand Medicaid under the ACA by having the federal government pay for new recipients.
This American Rescue Plan however, did not meet the expectations of the Progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives who had been agitating for:
- $15/hour in Raising the Wage
- $2,000 a month in direct cash relief to American families
- Helping undocumented people get relief.
- $400/month instead of the current $300 a month that made it into the American Rescue Plan.
- A temporary Medicare for All measure [that would push out the influence of insurance company]
Bill Passes with 0 Republican Support and One Democrat Defector
What was really alarming about the American Rescue Plan, was the fact that it passed with zero Republican support. Biden had made it a centerpoint of his political campaign to ensure that bipartisanship would be the measure of his administration but to many political observers the lack of Republican support for this bill just shows how far the party has been going in the wrong direction.
It isn’t helped by the fact that now disgraced President Trump is leading from his Florida mansion, and is planning to take back power through the people he endorses in the midterm elections. This could cost several headaches as Democrats will be contending with a very slim majority in the House of Representatives. They will also be contending with seats that they need retain. It is without a doubt that with the retirement of several prominent Republican senators, this gives Democrats a moment in history like any other to increase the majority in the Senate and build on the work of passing legislation without Joe Manchin(D-WV) or Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) from obstructing the work of the U.S. Senate in providing the relief and forward thinking vision that this country so desperately needs after four years of white supremacist rule.
Biden Administration Nominees
The Biden Administration saw it’s nomination of Neera Tanden (Director of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress) go down the drain, as Neera’s comments about public policy, her mean tweets towards the right wing and left wing, left a sour taste in the minds of those who were charged with appointing her to the position. US Senator Bernie Sanders had the opportunity to quiz her about her comments about his presidential run and other comments that she has made against progressives. It was important to realize that while some may say that Twitter is not real life it is in fact real life and it is in fact some thing that can disqualify you from becoming Director of the office of management and budget (which sets the fiscal and public policy agenda for the administration).
According to Refinery29, Neera Tanden has many qualities that Senators found to be off putting and resulted in the Biden Administration pulling the nomination after they realized there wouldn’t be enough votes to confirm her.
- As CEO of Center for American Progress, she shutdown the blog Think Progress after staff unionized and made the excuse that the website “wasn’t profitable.” The editor of the blog Think Progress was Faiz Shakir.
- As advisor to the Hillary Clinton for America campaign, she physically assaulted Faiz when he asked about Clinton’s stance on the Iraq war, something that used be a benchmark for the viability of a political candidate for President.
- According to Refinery29 “When Shakir ended up running Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, Shakir accused Tanden of “maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas” after then-active ThinkProgress ran a video criticizing Sanders for being a millionaire.”
- Tanden has also publicly advocated for cuts to social security and other vital social safety nets, which she has often referred to as “entitlement programs.”
- The appointment of a “fiscal conservative” to the Office of Management and Budget could be devastating for the millions of Americans who are having to choose between paying their rent or eating a meal.
- Tanden also revealed the name of an anonymous staffer at American Progress who came forward as a victim of sexual harassment during an all-hands meeting. The meeting followed an article published on BuzzFeed that reported a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against those who reported incidents at American Progress.
Advocates have been pointing out that there is a hypocrisy between how south Asian women of color are punished for their tweets, Donald Trump wasn’t as punished for the tweets he wrote over the past four years. They’ve been saying that this was a double standard in how people are treated. But to me what I see, is someone who is very vindictive can’t work across the aisle with anybody whether it’s Republicans or leftists, and has exposed confidential information about workplace sexual harassment.
Also coming under fire is Vanita Gupta, Biden-Harris administration’s Associate Attorney General nominee. Gupta heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Here are some reasons why she is also on the radar for past comments/actions.
- When pressed about supposed comments she made against reallocating funding from police departments to social services by Republican Senators she mentioned that “I don’t support defunding the police. I’ve been very clear about that.”
- According to the New York Times: “Now Ms. Gupta is President Biden’s nominee to serve as the associate attorney general, the Justice Department’s No. 3 official responsible for overseeing the lawyers who defend the administration in court; issues including antitrust law, the environment and taxes; and funding allocations to local law enforcement departments nationwide.”
There can be many reasons for opposing Biden’s nominees. This certainly does not give me any reassurance that we will prioritize the lives of people of color if we continue to fund the police departments that continue to brutalize them. I’m alarmed at the fact that Miss Gupta is against defunding the police. At a time one more young people than ever need more social services instead of police, investing in the wrong priorities in this time is deadly.
Although not to be misunderstood, I am definitely interested in having more Asian American women at the top rungs of leader ship. But I’m also concerned about the fact that we have a lot of centrist positions on the issues and that these people will be making policy for the next four years. Although there could be worse picks for nominations, I am concerned that we aren’t learning from last year, with the murders of George Floyd at the hands of Officer Chauvin or Breonna Taylor who was the victim of a mis-identification by police.
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