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April 23, 2021

My Turn, Tarik Woods: What are we afraid of?

By Tarik Woods

Let’s begin with the biggest concession: $1.9 trillion is a lot of cash.

It was an enormous amount when our Congress passed tax cuts for wealthy citizens in 2017 and it’s a lot now. The difference is obvious. One of these ventures supports the common working American while the other was an unwarranted handout to the financially elite. However, I will save my pointed criticism of the conservative party’s political hypocrisy so that we can address concerns of the recently House-passed stimulus package.

COVID-19 has ravaged so much of our lives and it’s impossible not to wonder if throwing large sums of money will be the answer to returning our lives back to some sense of normalcy. The natural place to investigate if our fears are warranted was figuring out what could possibly cause such a glaring cost. 

The 591-page American Rescue Plan is split into nine titles that cover a range of areas spanning from funding support in Veterans Affairs to small business relief. As to be expected, the answer to how best to rebuild our vibrant economy is a deeply divided topic amongst partisan lines, but surely there are large chunks of this stimulus package that we can back uniformly. 

Americans need relief, but more importantly small businesses need people to spend money. The $1,400 coupled with the $600 stimulus checks to individuals making less than $75,000 will give more people the ability to sustain their communities. During this pandemic, unemployment has increased across most industries at no fault of the workers. Consistently, the number of families who have become food and shelter insecure has increased. This stimulus package contains billions in food, rental and mortgage assistance. This will not only help those suffering from the traumas associated with these circumstances, it will provide millions of property owners and farmers some relief from missed payments and decreased demand for their goods. 

The bill provides $350 billion to state and local governments so that they can continue employing those holding together our nation’s infrastructure and transportation systems. It’s no secret, our state and local governments lose the ability to employ millions as more people lose their jobs and subsequently the ability to pay taxes. More than half of U.S. states saw declines in revenue, resulting in thousands of services no longer being provided to the public. After more than 510,000 US deaths, this legislation also provides an additional $47 billion in aid to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist in the burial costs of those who have died from COVID-19.

Lastly, this effort sets aside more than $200 billion in order to assist states getting their students back to school safely while protecting teachers and staff. Improving ventilation systems, reducing classroom sizes and providing more protective equipment will ensure that students and faculty are able to cautiously re-enter in-person learning environments without flagrantly disregarding evidence of what decreases the risk of spreading this deadly virus. 

The largest merit of this proposal is that it is decent. This immense proposition aimed at saving the livelihood of Americans from all walks of life is attempting to support the general welfare in a way we have not seen since former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. The challenges that face us are great and it will take great action to recover. Projected to add 6 million jobs and power economic growth to 6.5%, this catalyst for business and civility will drive years of development. This stimulus package provides hope to tens of millions looking for the help they have earned, and I hope we can be the nation I know we are.

Let’s hope Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have the same belief in America.

Tarik Woods is a recent economics and philosophy graduate from the University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill and a Salisbury native.

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