Within four weeks of taking office, Congress presented a “stimulus package” to President Obama, who signed it. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is now one year old. About half of the money has been distributed, mostly to states, as well as to extend unemployment benefits, expand eligibility for Food Stamps, support Medicaid for states. Independent economic analyses of ARRA show where it has been effective. It’s hard to make the argument that things would have been worse for people without the package, because for many people, their economic situation is difficult and challenging. However, reading accounts of the mass suffering during the depression makes us glad that we did not have to witness similar challenges. It was the work of social workers led by Frances Perkins and Harry Hopkins that supported people and institutionalized programs like unemployment insurance and social security to ensure people could be cared for throughout the ups and downs of economic cycles.
NASW, partnering with you, our members, continues this legacy of providing direct aid and advocating for structural economic changes. (See our advocacy alerts on extending benefits to people who have lost their jobs and supporting Medicaid relief to states.) We look forward to continuing these efforts.
You may find these recent articles of interest regarding the ARRA: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/17/business/economy/17leonhardt.html?src=twt&twt=nytimes and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704804204575069772167897834.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLTopStories