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Poverty Solutions Director Luke Shaefer testifies at U.S. House hearing on pandemic relief programs

By Lauren Slagter
Poverty Solutions

Poverty Solutions Director H. Luke Shaefer testified about the impact of pandemic relief programs at a Sept. 22 hearing before the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. 

Recent Census Bureau data shows that the pandemic relief legislation, particularly the American Rescue Plan, helped millions of Americans pay their basic expenses and reduced the poverty rate even as the pandemic continued to wreak havoc on our economy,” said Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-South Carolina and chair of the select subcommittee, at the hearing. “The American Rescue Plan was designed as a temporary stopgap measure to rescue our economy from an unprecedented crisis. We must now extend many of its provisions and build on them to create a strong, sustainable and inclusive post-pandemic economy.”

Shaefer discussed the impact of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the December 2020 COVID-19 relief measures, and the American Rescue Plan. He is the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy, professor of social work, and associate dean for research and policy engagement at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at U-M.

“The social safety net response ushered in by the bi-partisan CARES Act and continued in the December COVID relief bill and American Rescue Plan is truly historic. A wealth of evidence now shows it has proven incredibly effective,” Shaefer said during his testimony. “I believe the success is due in large part to the speed and flexibility of a broad-based approach that prioritized putting money in people’s pockets.” 

Related: ‘Stimulus checks substantially reduced hardship,’ NYT and Newsweek report, citing Poverty Solutions study

Other witnesses at the hearing included: Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, economist and director of the Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research; the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, president of the Children’s Defense Fund; Indivar Dutta-Gupta, co-director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequality; and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum.