Recent Census figures show that the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009 had a substantial impact on low-income families across the country. Provisions of the Recovery Act, including extension of unemployment insurance, assistance programs for low-income Americans, and tax credits for working families, kept 4.5 million people out of poverty that same year.
Furthermore, in a new publication , the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) finds that a combination of recovery efforts along with other federal safety net policies kept the poverty rate from increasing between 2008 and 2009, even amidst the steep economic contraction, foreclosure crisis, and rising unemployment.
The graph below depicts how many people were specifically impacted by the policies to support working families and low-income individuals.
Source: CBPP, Despite Deep Recession and High Unemployment, Government Efforts-Including the Recovery Act-Prevented Poverty from Rising in 2009, new Census Data Show
As states face another year of crippling revenue shortfalls, as unemployment remains high, and as the flow of federal recovery dollars to the states declines, this data demonstrates the importance of federal action on state fiscal relief and job creation. CBPP further notes that “these findings come to light at an important time — just as Congress prepares for a major debate on the role of government in addressing economic and social problems.”
Indeed, the new right-wing House majority aims for extreme austerity and frugality when it comes to supporting the middle class, working families, and vulnerable Americans. They have promised $100 billion in unspecified cuts, but they are likely targeting health care and education. Such disregard for the needs of average Americans and economic viability is wholly misguided. These actions would have deleterious impacts on a fragile economy and unduly burden states with even greater fiscal pressure.