The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is the one thing Democrats got right, says The American Prospect. Amidst doomsday predictions for liberals, ARPA created the conditions for a revival of the labor movement, and just maybe a labor-based politics by reinforcing positive economic conditions and enabling full employment – while unemployment was still 6.4% in January of 2021, it is 3.6% today, and the the rapid reductions followed mid-year 2021 after ARPA kicked in. The confidence that comes with knowing that another job is available is critical to getting people to agree to take on their employers, like we are seeing with Starbucks and Amazon.
The provisions in ARPA providing support to workers were many and diverse, from state and local fiscal aid setting a floor for public employment and creating infrastructure jobs, to additions to the Affordable Care Act exchanges to make health insurance actually affordable, to the childcare supports that helped hundreds of thousands of people return to work.
The American Rescue Plan opened a critical window for a bottom-up movement to become more visible, and the doomsday predictions are not inevitable.