This week, Congress passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The process saw a few disappointments — like the failure to include a $15 minimum wage — but it’s also being called one of the most significant pieces of anti-poverty legislation ever passed.

As Rebekah Entralgo reports this week, the measure is expected to reduce overall poverty by a third, and to cut child poverty in half. That’s a stunning success, she says. But looking more deeply into the legislation reveals significant changes that got very little coverage before now, including a much-needed bailout of worker pensions. A million union workers and retirees across the heartland can now retire in greater security, she writes.

We’ll have more on the relief package in upcoming weeks. Meanwhile, Texas mom Denita Jones shares her family’s story of going without water, heat, or power during the Texas freeze. She puts the blame on big corporations and their handpicked politicians. But now, she says, ordinary people are waking up and fighting back.

Also this week, Paul Armentano catalogs the long history of hackles over marijuana potency — a concern rarely raised, he notes, over alcohol potency, though alcohol in sufficient quantities can kill people. Jim Hightower reports on the alarming spread of voter suppression laws, beautifully illustrated by Khalil Bendib. And Jill Richardson explains what went wrong on a Wisconsin wolf hunt — and what it says about politics nationally.

New This Week…

Biden’s Relief Package Is a Huge Victory for Workers | Rebekah Entralgo
It’s one of the largest antipoverty programs ever passed — and will save worker pensions throughout the Midwest.

Texas: A Study in Private Gain at Public Expense | Denita Jones
My family spent the Texas freeze cold and dirty and parched while utilities bilked us and politicians fled to resorts.

Is Pot Really More Potent These Days? Does it Matter? | Paul Armentano
Cannabis, like alcohol, is available in a variety of potencies. Unlike alcohol, a potent dose of cannabis won’t kill you.

The Fraught Politics of Wolf Hunting | Jill Richardson
In Wisconsin, a wolf hunt gone wrong shows what happens when one side uses force in wildlife management disputes.

Our Elections Are Being Rigged | Jim Hightower
Republican lawmakers are stealing our electoral process in broad daylight.

Voting Rights: Between a Rock and a Hard Place | Khalil Bendib
New voter suppression laws, and an anti-voting rights court, could put the squeeze on voters.

In Case You Missed It…

Essential Workers Deserve $15 an Hour | Eshawney Gaston
We care for your parents, children, and homes. We should make enough to care for our own, too.

Paid Sick and Family Leave Can’t Wait | Rebekah Entralgo
For workers like my mom, the financial strain caused by a lack of paid leave can be just as stressful as catching COVID-19.

When Do the Rules Apply? | Domenica Ghanem
The Biden administration is bending rules to drop bombs but not raise wages. That’s a mistake.

Biden Needs to Keep His Promises on Immigration | Robert P. Alvarez and Uma Nagarajan-Swenson
The new administration has made some welcome changes, but Biden isn’t living up to all his promises — especially on detention.

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Peter Certo

Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of OtherWords.org.