The Inflation Reduction Act includes none of the poverty-focused components that my colleagues in the Circle of Protection and I celebrated in the Build Back Better package. That bill failed in the Senate by one vote last December.
But the Inflation Reduction Act does address important problems that need immediate attention:
> It includes the largest program to moderate climate change in the history of the world, and some of the environmental programs are designed to especially benefit low-income people and people of color.
> The bill will reduce health-care costs for millions of low- and middle-income Americans.
> The Inflation Reduction Act will also enforce the tax code on high-income people and big corporations. This and some other features of the bill may indeed reduce inflation, which disproportionately burdens low- and middle-income people.
The Circle of Protection coalition of church bodies and Christian organizations has been working together to shape all the massive COVID response and recovery bills since the onset of the pandemic. We had every reason in the early months of the pandemic to expect higher rates of poverty and hunger for a period of years. But the two COVID response bills of 2020 and the three big bills that Congress has developed in response to President Biden's Build Back Better program have (together with declining unemployment) kept poverty from increasing. In fact, hunger and poverty, especially among children, fell sharply after passage of the American Rescue Act last March - but then increased again when Build Back Better was voted down and the expansion of the Child Tax Credit expired.
In the Lame Duck session of Congress this December, there may be a chance to restore the expansion of Child Tax Credit benefits to very poor families and get some wins for struggling families in this country and around the world in a FY23 appropriations omnibus bill. But this and a great deal more depends on the outcome of the elections.