Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen declared on Wednesday that the American Rescue Plan (ARP) prevented widespread economic damage in the United States.
“In some ways, the ARP acted like a vaccine for the American economy, protecting our recovery from the possibility of new variants,” Newsweek reported.
Yellen made the statement at the 90th winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, according to a Treasury Department release.
“The protection wasn’t complete, but it was very strong – and it prevented communities from suffering the most severe economic effects of Omicron and Delta.”
Her comments reflect how many Americans applied for unemployment last January compared to the Great Recession.
According to her, economists predicted a recession following the COVID-19 pandemic period, but this never happened.
As the first landmark law passed during the Biden administration, the ARP was signed into law in March.
During the pandemic, the bill was intended to jumpstart the economy and provide assistance to low-income families.
Yellen called it “the biggest investment we’ve made since Eisenhower built the Interstate.”
In her address to the conference, Yellen noted that child poverty and hunger have declined significantly over the recent years due to the plan.
State and local governments received $350 billion from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to assist in combating COVID-related problems in their communities.
“When Omicron started spreading around our cities, it did not find them broke and broken; it found them much readier to respond,” she said.
The ARP had a $195 billion state component, a $130 billion local component, a $20 billion tribal component, and a 4.5 billion territory component.
In her remarks, Yellen gave several examples of how the funds helped to create jobs in various states.
According to her, Columbus, Ohio, provided $1,000 signing bonuses to new childcare center teachers; Denver hired 265 new city staff members; Wichita, Kansas, hired 161 new workers, including animal control officers and park maintenance workers.
Additionally, the ARP increased child tax credits, earned income tax credits, as well as temporary increases to Supplement Nutritional Assistant Program benefits of roughly $27 per month per person.
As the first line of defense during the pandemic, she thanked local governments for their efforts.
“In this country, we don’t often recognize the crises that do not happen; we don’t celebrate the bridge that doesn’t collapse. But maybe in this case, we should,” Yellen added.