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HUBBARD COUNTY DFL: The American Rescue Plan

Editor’s note: Both the Hubbard County DFL and Hubbard County Republicans are invited to write columns for the Enterprise’s Opinion page.

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The American Rescue Plan, also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill meant to speed up the United States' recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.

While $1,400 relief checks and the surge in vaccines have rightly dominated the headlines, what you may not have heard is the American Rescue Plan also represents one of the biggest investments in rural America in our nation’s history.

During the campaign, Joe Biden promised rural America, which has shouldered more than its fair share of the burden during this public health and economic crisis, that if he were elected, help would be on the way. Now, just weeks after he took office, President Biden has delivered.

How does the American Rescue Plan help rural folks? Here are the ways:

  • Supports farm and frontline workers; improves tech in rural schools and libraries

  • Fills the tax shortfall for state and local government; builds broadband for rural areas; bolsters rural health care providers, including clinics, in-home and hospice care, for costs associated with COVID

  • Allows rural hospitals and local communities to expand access to vaccinations and food assistance; continues through May the Paycheck Protection Program, which has been a lifeline for small businesses

  • Helps schools reopen safely

  • and provides $1,400 relief checks to eligible individuals.

In addition, millions of middle- and low-income parents will receive a new per-child allowance – the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) – beginning this summer, which will arrive in the form of a monthly check to help families afford the everyday expenses of raising children.
Affordable health coverage will be expanded, unemployment benefits for those who have lost work will be extended through the summer, and there is new support for those who need to take family leave.

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After all, what is the purpose of government? The purpose, as expressed in the preamble to the Constitution, is to “provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare...”

Folks, we are in a war. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared a year ago in March that his government would have acted "like any other wartime governments” to support the British economy and take "steps that are unprecedented since World War II," calling the virus an "enemy that can be deadly."

In the same week, U.S. President Donald Trump referred to himself as a "wartime president.” A day after lockdown was imposed in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed for national unity in the name of a challenge that she described as the greatest faced by the country since World War II – words that have been repeated, in a global context, by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and many other European leaders.

So now the Republicans are complaining about how we are going to pay for this. Well, how did we fund our wars of the past? Through taxes. But now when the current administration talks about raising taxes for those making more than $400,000, Republicans are concerned about deficits. And they are opposed to raising corporate taxes when last year 55 of the most profitable companies in America paid no federal income taxes.

How did we get out of the Great Depression of the 1930s? How did we pay for World War II and how did we pay for building the interstate highway system during the Eisenhower presidency? The Hoover administration aggressively increased taxes, hiking the top marginal individual income tax rate from 25 percent to 63 percent. The Roosevelt administration pushed through further increases, raising the top marginal individual income tax rate to 79 percent.

Did you know that in 1944-45, during World War II, couples making more than $200,000 faced an all-time high of 94 percent? And under Republican President Eisenhower, marginal tax rates were as high as 90 percent.

So thank the Democrats for providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare – and raising taxes when necessary to win this war.

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