One thing we believe in deeply here at In the Public Interest is the dire need for more public dollars invested in things that improve everyone’s lives—things like public health, great schools, clean water, safe food, and more.
The only way to solve our many crises—from increasing economic inequality and political polarization to the pandemic and climate change—is more public investment in public goods.
Fortunately, we have recent evidence to prove our point.
The U.S. Treasury just released data measuring the impact of the American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress in March of last year. Get a load of what our government has been doing lately:
- State and local governments have collectively budgeted $11 billion in federal dollars to help people survive the pandemic. For example, New Jersey’s Union County—a Covid hotspot—has been able to boost public health staffing, buy medical equipment, and launch mobile vaccine clinics.
- Nearly 1,600 affordable housing projects have been launched, including in Rochester, New York, where the city is building single-family homes on previously vacant city-owned land, and in Mobile, Alabama, where the city is renovating affordable rental units in the historic neighborhood of Africatown.
- Over $10 billion has been budgeted nationwide to support workers as inflation rises. For example, Maine is partnering with unions, businesses, and community-based organizations on apprenticeship programs for the growing clean energy sector.
- Over $20 billion has been budgeted to help more people access clean water and high-speed internet. Erie County, New York, is building a county-wide public internet network and Bay City, Michigan, is replacing lead water pipes.
Take a moment to look up how your local and state governments are using American Rescue Plan money. Open the Treasury’s dashboard, click on “Projects by Recipient,” and filter by “State/Territory.”
“This [spending] counters a common attitude that the government is incompetent and that government programs make us less free. Certainly, things like corruption and over-policing can happen when public institutions are captured by the powerful few. But the last few years have shown what is possible when we make government work for us.”
Photo by Senate Democrats.