(photo collage Capital-Star by John L. Mitzek)
Jeff Garris and Nick Presley
Rising costs have made life harder for many families, even as a vibrant economy continues to create jobs and raise wages. We want everyone – black, brown, white, indigenous and newcomers – to have the support they need to overcome these challenges and unleash the momentum of our recovery.
During the worst pandemic, emergency assistance has helped most families and workers survive the crisis. But even before COVID and inflation, essentials such as health care and child care were too expensive for working people. Schools were not funded fully and fairly.
And college was unbearable for many, while the burden of debt was high for those who could enroll. Now that the price of everything is rising, we need our leaders at both the federal and state levels to act so that we do not lose the positions we have won.
Federal lawmakers have a chance to use a process known as “reconciliation” to get around the deadlock and adopt an economic package that reduces prescription and health insurance costs, expands and lowers the cost of child care, and helps bring the next generation on an upward trajectory. helping parents pay for the upbringing of their children.
What’s more, they can pay for it through such popular policies as abolishing tax breaks for the wealthiest people and corporations, as well as negotiating savings on prescription drugs.
In Pennsylvania, lawmakers must use the accumulated surplus of more than $ 11 billion created by the U.S. Rescue and Recovery Plan to fairly fund our schools and make college more affordable to provide more support to low-income and small businesses. , make childcare more affordable, help with high gasoline prices and raise the minimum wage.
It’s no secret that President Joe Biden and congressional leaders have had trouble concluding legislation agreements to help families make ends meet. But the need to overcome their differences is as acute as ever: many of the programs that helped us during the pandemic, such as paying the child tax credit, are over. Others, such as the increase in subsidies that have helped millions of people afford health care during the worst health crisis in our lives, will soon end.
There are some simple, targeted policies that will help, and they should all be part of sound economic legislation that helps reduce costs for workers and families. They ensure people can get the health insurance they need and reduce health care costs for individuals and states by closing the Medicaid coverage gap, making permanent extended ACA tax breaks that have already helped millions of people buy affordable health insurance, and limiting the cost of insulin at $ 35; eliminating massive child care deficits for families in all 50 states, which will provide more opportunities for children to receive the help they need and make it easier for parents to work; ensure that low-income families can receive a child tax credit by making it fully refundable and resuming monthly payments, which would help families afford the basics of food, shelter and fuel while rising costs.
Congress can pay for this policy in a sustainable way by repealing the tax cuts in 2017 to ensure that the richest people and corporations can no longer avoid paying a fair share of taxes. Congress should also allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, which will save money and make it easier for seniors to afford life-saving drugs. Savings from these measures can also help reduce the deficit.
And in Pennsylvania, we also need Republicans to focus on the common good, not on tax cuts for wealthy corporations, while continuing to allow most of them to pay nothing to the state. Republican and Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate should work with Gov. Tom Wolfe, adding $ 1.5 billion to fund basic education, and more money will go to schools that are historically underfunded.
- passing the Nelly Bly Scholarship Program for higher education and worker training programs.
- introduction of a minimum wage on the way to $ 15 per hour with automatic inflation adjustment.
- providing more temporary assistance to small businesses and low-income families.
- sending Pennsylvania residents a discount for high gas prices.
Temporary programs can be paid for with accumulated surpluses of more than $ 11 billion, while our increased government revenues cover current programs. Taxes do not need to be raised to make it easier for all Pennsylvania residents to live.
We came together during COVID-19 to take care of each other, and although the pandemic brought great suffering, this spirit of solidarity helped us avoid even worse results.
Now we need the political leaders in Washington, DC, and Harrisburg to come together again to preserve the soil we have restored and build for the future.
The decisions they make in the next few weeks will show us whether we are on our side.
Jeff Garris and Nick Presley are directors of 99% PA and We The People PA, both projects of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a progressive think tank based in Harrisburg.