CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship, April 30, 2021
April 30, 2021
The lifting up families and children edition. Fourteen weeks into his term in office, President Biden told the American public Wednesday evening that the twin battles to beat the pandemic and improve the economy are succeeding. “Now — after just 100 days – I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” Biden said. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setbacks into strength.”
Seen through the lens of the pandemic, a vigorous vaccination campaign, and an improving economy, Biden would appear to be correct in his assertions. The 7-day average for COVID-19 cases was more than 195,000 on January 20, the day Biden was sworn in. On Wednesday, April 28, it had dropped to 52,605, a decline of 26 percent over the previous 14-day period. Some 30 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated; about 43 percent have received at least one dose. On Thursday, it was revealed that economic growth in the U.S. for the first quarter was 1.6 percent, higher than experts had forecast.
But Biden and his team know this is not the time to settle for a return to the pre-pandemic status quo. The pandemic uncloaked weaknesses in our nation’s workforce – barriers that hold back people of color, women, and workers with low incomes. It is time to tear down these barriers. It is time, in Biden’s words, to turn crisis into opportunity.
President Biden’s American Families Plan, unveiled Wednesday, is transformative for families, for children, and for lower- and middle-income workers. It would pay for two years of preschool for all children and two years of community college, extending the 12 years of public education Americans now get. It would make it so no struggling family pays more than 7 percent of their income on child care for kids up to the age of 5. It would eventually support up to 12 weeks of family leave. It includes expanded Pell grants, investments in historically black colleges and universities, an extension of the improved Child Tax Credit through 2025 and a permanent expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children, and more nutrition assistance for children. It would lower health care premiums for many.
To pay for his plan, President Biden would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans by $1.5 trillion over a decade. No one earning less than $400,000 would be affected. The American Families Plan would increase the top income tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent and would eliminate a loophole that allows wealthy Americans to avoid taxes on their wealth by passing it on to their heirs. And Biden would step up IRS enforcement by hiring more agents and investing in new tools and technology.
Within the next few months, Biden’s plan to lift up families and children and make our workers more competitive in the global economy will begin to move through Congress. We at the Coalition on Human Needs look forward to engaging in a full-court press to build on it and enact it. We hope you will join us.