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NAKASEC Joint Statement on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

By February 17, 2009No Comments

For immediate release
February 17, 2009

EunSook Lee, NAKASEC, 323.937.3703, ext, 205
Becky Belcore, KRCC, 773.588.9158
Dae Joong Yoon, KRC, 323.937.3718

Joint Statement by the
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC)
Korean Resource Center (KRC)

On the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

(Los Angeles, CA) President Barack Obama signed today the $787 billion “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” (H. R. 1) following House passage by a vote of 246-183 and Senate passage by a vote of 60-38. At a time when the unemployment rate has soared to a 25 year high, this legislation, among other provisions, will create an estimated 3-3.5 million jobs.

NAKASEC has consistently opposed the implementation of electronic employment verification systems and therefore applaud the stripping of this provision from the final package. If passed, E-Verify would have mandated the use of a highly error-ridden database by any organization receiving economic recovery funds. Study after study has shown that workers are vulnerable to discrimination, harassment, and unjust termination, particularly minority and immigrant workers. Small businesses which have been especially hurt by the recession would have also borne disproportionately high costs to implement E-Verify.

Other key provisions in the bill include:
Tax Credits for Families in Need

  • A fully refundable a “Making Work Pay Tax Credit” of $400 for individuals and $800 for families;
  • One-time SSI payments of $250 to certain disabled individuals, the elderly, and retired persons;
  • Increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for families with three or more children; and
  • A reduction in the Child Tax Credit (CTC) of the current earning threshold from $8,100 to $3,000 in 2009/2010.

Reforms to the Unemployment Program

  • A suspension of taxes on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits;
  • An extension of 33 weeks of unemployment compensation to workers whose benefits have expired and are unable to find a job;
  • An increase in unemployment benefits by $25 week through 2010; and
  • Provision of grants to states to try new unemployment programs for individuals that do not currently qualify, such as part-time workers.

Public Social Services

  • Increased funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) emergency funds, which states could apply towards supporting increased numbers of welfare beneficiaries;
  • Increased funding for Medicaid through the state matching fund;
  • An extension of Medicaid for people transitioning off welfare for one year;
  • $2 billion in blocks grants in childcare for working families; and
  • $19.9 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (previously known as the Food Stamp Program) and related nutrition programs.

Housing & Community Development

  • Provision of over $13 billion in new funding to support affordable housing programs and community development in low income neighborhoods, including public housing renovation, the Project Based Section 8 program (a subsidy program for providing affordable housing units to very low income households), and addressing impact of abandoned or deteriorating conditions in neighborhoods impacted by foreclosures.

Job training

  • $3.95 billion for job training programs, including improving training programs for people who have lost their jobs due to outsourcing or manufacturing losses.

Education & Youth Development

  • $2.1 billion for Head Start programs;
  • A funding increase of $17 billion for the Pell Grant program, which means that financial aid would increase nearly 9% starting July 1 and up to $5,550 in 2010 compared to the current amount of $4,700; and
  • Creating 12,000 new VISTA and AmeriCorps positions.

Filipino Veterans

  • An authorization of payments to World War II Filipino Veterans who have been waiting for over 60 years for recognition of their service. This provision is particularly important to the Filipino American community that has advocated tirelessly for decades for this important victory.