ARPA helped most Americans
To the Editor:
March 11, 2022 was the one-year anniversary of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was signed into law by President Biden. At a time when the news cycle moves so fast, we should stop and reflect on this law and how it has helped ordinary Americans, including those right here in Jackson County.
The American Rescue Plan Act is considered one of the most far-reaching pieces of anti-poverty legislation ever passed. It is said to have reduced child poverty by more than half and helped families through the expanded tax credits for working families and families with children. What this meant was that every family with children under 17 received an expanded childcare tax credit via a monthly payment check of $250-$300 for each child. This helped working parents pay for childcare so they could go to work or just stay afloat. The Act provided rental assistance to keep families in their homes so they wouldn’t get evicted if they lost their job, as many did during the pandemic.
ARPA increased food assistance benefits for WIC and SNAP, congregate meals, home delivered meals, commodity foods and the emergency food and shelter program. One of my patients told me that because of the increase to her SNAP benefits she didn’t have to go to a food pantry to get food anymore. As a dietitian, these benefits are good for the health and wellbeing of people, and have reduced hunger. In North Carolina, the American Rescue Plan Act provided over $13 million in assistance for home-delivered meals and over 19 million for nutrition assistance for WIC.
The ARPA provided nutrition assistance benefits and assistance to public health departments, rural health clinics and small rural hospitals like Harris Regional. It also provided substance abuse prevention and treatment money and support for community health centers. The program provided money for the low-income energy assistance and water assistance programs. It provided money for early childhood education and for institutions of higher learning. Here in Jackson County, WCU and SCC both received money from ARPA. Many local businesses, including restaurants in Jackson County, received direct payments under the restaurant revitalization fund. Visit usaspending.gov to see how ARPA funds impacted our community.
Lastly, let’s not forget the stimulus checks! On this one-year anniversary of the American rescue Plan Act, we should acknowledge that while Democrats in Congress worked for the people and helped them during a time of crisis, not one Republican in Congress voted for ARPA, including our own congressman, Madison Cawthorn. Rep. Cawthorn did say on social media that he was “proud” to see taxpayer dollars going to his district even though he did not vote for it! In the Senate, our senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis also voted against the bill and against providing health and economic benefits to their constituents. Looking back, I’m sure many people who received assistance from this legislation are grateful that it passed as it improved their lives in ways big and small.