Census: Relief programs avoided hardship in COVID crash | National policy


While some of last year’s federal aid was delayed for reasons ranging from cost disputes to distribution issues, overall it protected families from an economic disaster that would have aggravated the public health crisis. Some have been left out, such as people not legally allowed to be in the country.

As Americans argued over measures like wearing masks and shutting down businesses and community life, lawmakers on both sides were motivated to take dramatic action, said economist Bruce Meyer, an expert on the ‘University of Chicago on Poverty.

“You had Democrats who were very focused on helping those who were unemployed and in distress, and you had Republicans who were willing to do a lot of things to help get their president reelected, so there was a confluence of incentives, or desires, on the part of politicians. on both sides, ”he said.

On a historical note, census reports documented that government aid was much more effective in preventing poverty last year than in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, a decade earlier. Even after factoring in government programs, the supplementary poverty measure rose in 2010, while it fell sharply in 2020. This reflects how much more financial juice has been provided by Congress and the Trump administration in 2020, compared to President Barack Obama’s roughly $ 900 billion package. in 2009.

This is relevant to the current debate over Biden’s social infrastructure plan, said public policy analyst Robert Greenstein of the Brookings Institution think tank.


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