The achievement was still significant, however. “This is huge news—it shows you how much of a buffer we had from an expanded safety net,” Elaine Waxman, who researches hunger at the Urban Institute in Washington, told The New York Times. “There was no scenario in March of 2020 where I thought food insecurity would stay flat for the year. The fact that it did is extraordinary.” Compared to the Great Recession of 2008, it’s particularly striking, with 13 million more people becoming food insecure from the previous year. At the peak of the recession, 50.2 million Americans didn’t have enough food; it was 38.3 million in 2020.
Solving hunger altogether would have been better, yes. Spending $10 trillion in COVID relief—properly applied as in monthly checks to everyone—could have done the trick of keeping businesses afloat, people in their homes, and food on everyone’s tables. But as much as Congress did do demonstrates just what a difference an activist government can do even under the false constraints of deficit concerns.
Speaking of which, this is something regarding the current $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that comprises President Biden’s big jobs and economic improvement act that hasn’t been made clear enough, certainly by me. That $3.5 trillion that everyone is talking about as a huge scary number is spread out over the next ten years.
Over ten years, that’s hardly any money to spend on the truly transformative things Biden has envisioned. Could hunger go away entirely if families with young children get free pre-K? If college students don’t have to pay tuition? If home healthcare workers are earning a living wage? If new, living-wage jobs in new green industries flourish? Yeah. Hunger could essentially go away.
That money wouldn’t be hard to find, either. That the $3.5 trillion in investment over the next ten years is exactly half of what the wealthiest 1% of tax cheats have robbed the nation of in the past ten years. That’s not counting the 2017 GOP tax scam and the big breaks they got. That’s the taxes they have been obligated to pay and have been cheating us out of.
We can have nice things. The CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan showed that and did the job of keeping people fed. Making sure that all American people have nice things should be the priority over making Joe Manchin fossil fuel lobbyist friends happy.