While the expanded CLC is a win-win solution for families and the economy, Conservative Democrats are finding ways to oppose it.
By Sonali Kolhatkar
American families have struggled for decades to make ends meet wages just don’t go up as fast as the cost of living and a government social safety net that has been so deeply decimated as the United States spend less on children than almost any other wealthy nation.
This year, there was a small ray of hope that such a trend could be stopped and even reversed. Democrats, using their very slim control of the Senate and marginal control of the House, adopted an expanded child tax credit (CTC) in March 2021 as part of the US bailout that not only increased the tax refund received by families with young children but also started sending them a monthly advance instead of making them wait until they file their annual tax return.
In all respects, the amounts are embarrassingly modest and only offer an increase of $ 1,000 to $ 1,600 over the year as a whole. Families with low enough incomes to qualify and with children aged 6 to 17 now receive $ 3,000 per year instead of $ 2,000, while those with children under 6 receive benefits. checks totaling $ 3,600 per year.
Putting even a small amount of money in the hands of ordinary Americans is a win-win proposition for all but the most conservative pundits. Like the unemployment benefits of the CARES 2020 law—amounting to a salary of $ 15 per hour– it has been shown that the economy as a whole is boosted when people have more money in their pockets to spend on basic necessities. And, just as important, the the benefits have helped the most vulnerable, especially black and Latino workers, to avoid financial ruin.
Now, the CTC’s monthly payments are already showing promise. The Center for Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University documented “a noticeable drop in child poverty” after just the first month of payments. Plus, the benefits are particularly useful for black and Latino children, who the center says have twice the poverty rate as white children. Yet, because the CTC relies on income tax returns filed the previous year, white children benefited more than colored children because their families were “”more likely to have declared taxes. “
The United States Census Bureau also found that after just one month of payments, food insecurity among vulnerable families was significantly reduced, and families receiving checks also had less difficulty paying their weekly expenses. The proven benefits of the expanded CTC are so compelling that nearly 450 economists have written a open letter to Congress urging them to extend the program.
CTC payments benefit roughly 39 million American families who currently receive monthly checks of up to $ 300 per child per month. Meanwhile, the child care expenses in the United States is sky-high, averaging around $ 1,300 per month for infants and nearly $ 900 per month for preschoolers. For families with multiple children and parents in low-paying jobs, childcare is simply out of reach, and modest CTC payments aren’t even enough to cover the costs.
At a time, educators are so underpaid that as a result of the pandemic, more than 120,000 people have simply quit their jobs across the country. Even the US government is so concerned that the The Treasury Department released a report admitting that “the existing child care system in the United States, which relies on private funding to provide care for most children … does not adequately serve many families.”
This is not a new problem. In a 2014 speech At the White House Summit on Working Families, former President Barack Obama acknowledged that “in 31 states decent child care costs more than state college tuition.” and that “there are other countries that know how to take good care of children.”
Child care is such an important consideration for families with young children that the latest Harris Poll Poll found that 76 percent of working parents felt that child care decisions were a major factor in their employment decisions.
The cost of raising a child is estimated at almost a quarter of a million dollars– a sum that is largely out of reach for low-income families. Combined with persistent inequalities in wealth and income, it’s no wonder that, according to a recent CDC Report, 2020 was “the sixth consecutive year that the number of births [in the U.S.] declined. “
A 2009 study concluded that cheaper childcare is the key to reversing falling birth rates. There are two easy ways to make child care less expensive: heavily subsidizing the child care industry (the US government, after all, subsidizes fossil fuel and agricultural industries), or put more money in the hands of parents with children.
Currently, the extended CTC benefits are only valid for one year, and some Democrats want to make them permanent. But President Joe Biden wants them extended for just four years via a $ 3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill called the Rebuild Better Act. And some conservative Democrats want to immediately cancel the expanded benefits. Responsible.US identifies nine House Democrats and two Senate Democrats opposed to extending an expanded CTC. Of these 11 opponents, eight are millionaires.
Despite its obvious advantages, the CLC runs a real political danger of being canceled. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who is one of his biggest supporters, noted, “There is nothing bigger than this… if you just want to look at the impact of a child’s life, this is the most important thing we do.” Indeed, it is difficult to argue against helping vulnerable American children, but some Democrats like Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) manage to do so because they stand in the way of the current iteration of CTC. .
Manchin in particular took a stance much closer to Republican thinking: that the benefits for rich interests are good for the nation, while the benefits for the vulnerable are in fact “rights”. Using Republicans’ favors buzzwords, Manchin recently said that if he supported the CTC in theory, “Anything that can be added must be means tested” and that it is important that the United States does not turn into a “rights society.” ” A the reviewer explained that “’Test drive’ is just a nicer way to say,“ We want people to overcome more barriers, so fewer people can get help. “
The West Virginia senator exudes such pride in opposing his own party that in a New York Times interview earlier this year, he essentially challenged Democrats to try to oust him, saying, “What are they going to do, [are] are they going to go to West Virginia and campaign against me? Please that would help me more than anything. With friends like Manchin, Republicans can refrain from arguing and have no clear political positionAbout that.
While many Progressive Democrats are on the defensive to protect the CTC’s expansion, some go on the offensive trying to get money into the hands of low- and middle-income Americans through other means. . Democratic Representative from Minnesota Ilhan Omar in July, introduced a guaranteed income bill that would ensure people earning up to $ 75,000 a year receive monthly checks of $ 1,200. The SUPPORT Act, backed by progressive pillars such as Cori Bush (D-MO) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), includes the implementation of a pilot program initially to prove that monthly payments would have a positive impact on families.
Such approaches embody the opposite of the spin-off economic model long defended by many establishment economists in the face of progressive opposition. Now the fallout model is so discredited that even Biden has explicitly rejected it. Rather than infusing money, tax breaks and subsidies into the upper strata of society, based on the fantasy that this wealth will eventually reach the lower strata, policymakers engage with direct benefits for them. Vulnerable Americans. It remains to be seen whether or not the CLC will survive Washington’s political wrangling, even if tens of millions of Americans depend on it.
This article was produced by The economy for all, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
Sonali Kolhatkar is the founder, host and executive producer of “Rise with Sonali” a television and radio show broadcast on Free Speech TV and Pacifica. She is a writing fellow for the The economy for allproject at the Independent Media Institute.