NASW applauds Congress for passing President Biden's COVID-19 American Rescue Plan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) applauds Congress for its swift passage of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which includes much-needed aid to millions of Americans and represents one of the largest federal anti-poverty bills in recent history. The package is expected to cut poverty by a third this year and lift millions of children out of deep poverty by providing additional direct payments to low-income Americans. It will make the Child Tax Credit available to 27 million children in families with low or no income, increasing the size of tax credit, and provide an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for more low-paid adults who do not have minor children at home. All of these measures will push against racial inequities, since poverty disproportionately impacts people of color.
In addition to these critically needed economic boosts, the package will address other widespread and severe hardships imposed by the public health crisis. Increased access to affordable health care coverage, incentives for Medicaid expansion, rental supports and food assistance will go a long way in helping many Americans regain financial footing. Massive investments in states and localities, including the nation’s thousands of school districts, will help address learning loss and facilitate the provision of mental health and social care services, among other things.
However, we are disappointed that the relief package does not include an increase in the federal minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage is a critical step in creating an inclusive economy and redressing longstanding economic inequities which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. More than 85 percent of workers who would experience a raise with a minimum wage increase are the primary or co-breadwinners of their families. Many of these low-wage workers are women and people of color. The effects of raising the minimum wage extend beyond the significant help to families and children, 11 million of whom are living in poverty. Increasing the minimum wage is associated with a decrease in government spending on food assistance benefits, and increases in consumer spending. In fact, every extra dollar a low-wage worker receives adds about $1.21 to the broader economy. We urge the Biden administration and Congress to take prompt action to implement this long overdue policy.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.