Last week, President Joe Biden made history by signing the American Survival Plan. Yes, I know that it’s actually called the American Rescue Plan, but, since it’s the key to our survival, I’m calling it the American Survival Plan.
President Biden knows that writing, passing and signing this survival package isn’t enough and so now, key members of the Biden Administration are taking the #HelpIsHere tour on the road with events in Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Georgia scheduled for this week to remind and educate the American people of what they now have.
Of course, it’s not just that these locations are critical both to the electoral map and growing his constituency (although they are). It’s because he knows that good news has to be spread and to take it all the back to my days growing up in the AME church (and my occasional visits to the Baptist church) that means, “go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.”
You see, it’s not enough that 70% of Americans already support the great lifeline we know as the American Rescue Plan. It’s not enough that the American people have been overwhelmingly calling for the direct payments, unemployment benefits, small business support and local relief it contains. It’s not enough that the American Rescue Act will save lives and keep families together with nutrition and food support, child tax credits, housing aid and more. We also know that the GOP will call clean water rubbing alcohol if given the opportunity and a captive enough audience. So, we’re not going to give it to them.
The truth is that, while the so-called GOP leadership in Washington like to pretend that the plan lacks bipartisanship, an overwhelming majority of Americans, including registered Republicans who are also suffering, support the American Rescue Plan. In fact, a recent Politico/Morning Consult Poll says 59% of Republicans support the American Rescue Plan and a CBS poll last month had overall political party support at 83% with 70% of Republicans saying they support the package.
Just because the so-called GOP leaders in Congress don’t listen to their constituents does not mean the plan isn’t bipartisan. It’s up to us to make sure Americans know what we did, who we did it for, who we did it with...and who we did it without.
Yes, there’s been a lot of talk about the $1.9 trillion package, but that snapshot only tells part of the story. It’s up to us to give the whole picture. It’s up to us to be one choir singing with one voice. It’s up to us to “go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.”
We know that the average family of four will get a check for as much as $5,600 thanks to American Rescue Plan. We know that the plan expands the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. We know the plan extends unemployment benefits with a $300 weekly supplement through Labor Day.
But did you know it invests nearly $130 billion to safely reopen our K-12 schools across the country?
Did you know it invests $350 so state and local governments can maintain essential services like public safety including protecting the Black and brown people who are overwhelming in service related jobs and continue to protect us from the pandemic?
Did you know it invests almost $40 billion in our colleges and universities including nearly $3 billion set aside for HBCUs?
Did you know it includes $25 billion in rental assistance, $13.48 billion in healthcare services for veterans and more than $50 billion for vaccine distribution?
The list goes on and on.
You see, we’ve seen what happens when we don’t take the initiative in a moment like this.
The Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare was arguably one of the most transformative pieces of legislation of our day. In addition to making healthcare affordable for more than 16 million Americans, it improved preventive care, reduced prescription drug costs, eliminated long-term care limits and banned “pre-existing condition” denials among others.
Unfortunately, most GOP leaders ignored these benefits and weaponized legitimate concerns and conspiracy theories alike to demonize this landmark legislation and convince the American people it was, at best, not all it was cracked up to be and, at worst, downright dangerous.
And I got to give it to the naysayers. It worked.
It worked because we Democrats thought our job was done. We thought the ACA spoke for itself. Instead, the attacks were the only things most people heard, and they made their judgments accordingly. Even though, today, the ACA is overwhelmingly popular and has been, in many ways, embraced by the GOP, the damage has been done.
And here we go all over again. We are back in the same situation and, if there is one thing we know as Democrats it’s that there is no education in the second kick of the mule.
That is unless we, “go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere” because I can tell you for sure, we won’t be making that mistake again.
Antjuan Seawright is a Democratic political strategist, founder and CEO of Blueprint Strategy LLC, a CBS News political contributor, and a senior visiting fellow at Third Way. Follow him on Twitter @antjuansea.
(Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)