Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

This Is Progress

I still can’t believe that no Republican Member of Congress voted for the American Rescue Plan. They didn’t vote for this because it was dangerous policy or it would not truly provide relief meaningfully. Republicans didn’t vote for this now law because they rather put their political futures over the needs of our country.

Under the previous administration, Republicans welcomed tax cuts with open arms, especially for the top 1%. Under the American Rescue Plan, the top 1% received just what they needed: nothing. Tax cuts for the most wealthy are acceptable, popular, badly needed, they would say. But deaths and the long-lasting effects of children being out of school and continued suffering of already-fragile communities and businesses can continue, all for a talking point for their next election and to cater to their base.

We cannot ignore what happened, and my Republican brothers and sisters who took an oath to serve must be held accountable. The oath they took was not to a political party or top donors. The job of an elected official is to do the hard right versus the easy wrong. Your political party has no criteria for benefiting from the American Rescue Plan, yet no Republican member of Congress voted for it — but of course they too have family, friends and supporters who welcomed the relief.

Middleton

Extending unemployment insurance, expanding the child tax credit, lowering health care premiums and providing COBRA assistance is bad for our communities and country?

C’mon, GOP.

Cutting child poverty in half, surging vaccines, contact tracing, and concretely ending this pandemic is wasteful spending?

C’mon, GOP.

We can’t be conservative in our thinking and actions toward building our country, communities and homes back better. If shots in arms, school reopenings, actual economic growth in towns and cities, direct payments to individuals and rental assistance to low-income renters and homeowners are liberal initiatives, I remind folks that such thinking and action is how we got the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Indeed, it is how anything of significance gets done at any level of government. 

You’ve heard people say that the American Rescue Plan is the most consequential piece of legislation for working families in modern American history. That really means we finally rose to the occasion in providing needed resources to most Americans directly, rather than by trickle-down economics. The work continues, as we have more ground to cover. Not only at the national level, but local municipalities with visionary leaders have the opportunity to be bold and address issues that fall outside a mayor’s typical set of responsibilities. 

Protecting the lives and livelihoods of residents, saving lives of our most vulnerable populations, and providing critical help to those living week to week through no fault of their own deserve to have their government help them recover.

The fact that not one Republican member of Congress stepped up says a lot about what they fear and who they serve, rather than their convictions. 

Despite the opposition to the needed relief individuals, families, communities and small business owners were crying out for, help is here to stay and more of it is coming. A new beginning is within our sight. The inaction, rhetoric and hypocrisy by some will not hinder President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris from working with the House and Senate leadership to deliver tangible results for the American people regardless if you voted for them or not. There is too much work to do to go along to get along. Progress requires better, and you should expect more. 

Clay N. Middleton, of Charleston, has held various senior-level positions in government and politics.