The $819 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 stimulus bill passed last week in the House without support from a single Republican and lack of GOP support in the Senate threatens it's ultimate passage there. It appears that the Republican opposition, centers not around social service provisions but around their traditional laments of too much spending and too little in the way tax cuts, representing only a small percentage of the legislation that is problematic for them. In the meantime the basic needs of low-income families become more and more overwhelming as the poor are caught in the crossfire of this Congressional 'keep it gangsta' ideological showdown.
As new job losses are announced daily, addressing poverty becomes more urgent. Particularly crucial to the survival of the poor and working poor are resources to meet their basic needs and help ease their hardship while also stimulating the economy. These families and individuals are more likely to spend any additional income at once to buy goods and services which helps put money back into the economy immediately.
Recovery package proposals that target direct assistance to low-income households include the following:
1. Food. $20 billion to increasing food stamps, $200 million for nutrition programs for the elderly and $150 million for food banks.
2. Heat. $1 billion to ensure that households who spend a higher share of their income on utility bills, are able to maintain healthy temperatures during the winter and summer months.
3. Shelter. Help to prevent homelessness which will ultimately relieve the strain on the budgets of state and local governments as 1.5 million additional Americans could experience homelessness over the next two years from increases in unemployment. Homelessnes also is associated with drops in resources for rent or mortgage payments and the rise in foreclosures.
4. Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. The bill appropriates $4 billion to poor elderly and disabled recipients.
5. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
A new emergency fund to cover 80% of the additional costs faced by states that have increased expenditures for cash assistance, subsidized employment, or temporary help for poor families.
As increasing numbers of individuals and families have nowhere else to turn and rely on a broken safety net which cannot adequately meet their dire needs in a turbulent economic storm, it is crucial to not hold up 98% of a bill which is unchallenged over a problematic 2% as the flood waters continue to rise unabated. For many, there is no time to wait!
Every day is borrowed time. You want to be able to use life as well as death as a form of service to something bigger than you; that makes life meaningful.