A celebration of the expanded Child Tax Credit and a plea to make it permanent
Cannot fucking wait until my daughter gets this. She is a single mom, going to school full-time to fix robots, but because she lives mainly on scholarships she didn’t get much of a child tax credit because her income was too low. She has a work-study job which is part time.
She is a great kid doing great, but it will be nice to see her head a little bit more breathing room.
It's interesting comparing coverage of the CTC versus college debt forgiveness in both the mainstream and progressive media. Clearly the CTC will help many more people in need, but coverage of it seems dwarfed by the program laser targeted to benefit young journalists from expensive universities. Another argument for more diversity in the media.
And where are the progressive activists out there arguing to make the CTC permanent?
Just correcting one part of the article - they are sending letters. We got ours last week. Here’s the IRS link announcing it: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-sending-letters-to-more-than-36-million-families-who-may-qualify-for-monthly-child-tax-credits-payments-start-july-15
My wife and I combined fall close to the higher edge of the married couple income range, and we are using the checks for our two kids to pay for the older one's braces, which is an expense we might have otherwise had to finance out, so we are pumped. I have no policy commentary except to say that as a married parent, children are expensive and logistically difficult, and I don't know how single parents (including my own dad back in the day) manage it.
Biden should A) hire a bus covered entirely with big, colorful "CTC" wrap, B) spend all summer long doing nothing but driving around Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, C) bring a bullhorn.
I can see that the CTC will help a lot of people, that it's really good policy, and that we should make it permanent.
However, I doubt its value for helping us win elections. Obamacare helped 20 million people get access to medicine, most of them poor white people. It is such good policy that it is unlikely to ever go away, yet it's basically a curse word to a majority of poor white people.
I feel like it was a big mistake not to make that bargain with Romney and do his plan instead. Almost as good at eliminating child poverty, gets some of that bipartisan cred that can be used in elections, and most importantly is just permanent. I feel like doing the CTC this was is going for "double or nothing."
Yeah, if the plan gets extended every year it's great, IF. We'll see if Democrats are able to keep getting this thing extended in like 2025 the next time there's a debt ceiling fight with a GOP senate majority and Ted Cruz holds the economy hostage again and demands to kill this or something.
Social security for kids would be a worthwhile and exciting legacy
In principle, I am all on board for making the expanded CTC permanent. We should be giving struggling families a hand. So sign me up! And yet . . . and yet . . . there are two things that niggle at me:
-- By the mid-1990s, there was a pretty wide consensus that AFDC was a failure and too often it supported a culture of dependency. The CTC isn't quite AFDC, but it bears a strong family resemblance. Have we decided that that view of 25 years ago was totally wrong and we should basically go back to the old system? If so, I must have missed that argument.
-- We need to spend more. Period. But any permanent program has to be paid for (unlike short-term bailouts, Keynesian stimulus programs, etc.) And I don't care if interest rates are low or even if we expect them to remain low. I may be able to manage a $300,000 mortgage at moderate mortgage rates, but if those rates are 0.0001%, that doesn't mean I can afford a $20 million mortgage -- the principal payments alone will kill me. So we have to generate revenue to pay for the CTC and the other things we want and need to do. But there's clearly a consensus in this country that 'ordinary' people (say, under $400,000 in household income) shouldn't see any tax increases. Elizabeth Warren notwithstanding, you simply can't run a Nordic-style welfare state only paid for with taxes on the wealthiest. (Not to mention that if you personally aren't willing to cough up the bucks for something, how much do you really value it?) So how will we get the middle and upper middle class to be on board for paying more for these undeniably good things we want to do?
Answer those two points and I'm a happy guy.
It occurs to me once again that Mr. Biden is a remarkably skillful politician.
Great well written post. But, I already miss Marc the intern's charts. I would love to see how much of an outlier the USA is on poverty, especially compared to recently industrialized countries such in Asia and Latin America or Big African countries like Nigeria.
The letter the IRS sent out is the lamest thing ever. It's dry and doesn't even say if I'm eligible --- just that I'll get money if I am. Way to sell the product.
I thought Trump's letters were tacky and dumb, but it was a smart move. His giant signature grabbed your attention. If Trump hadn't done it already, I wouldn't want Biden to do the same, but that cat is out of the bag. Also, Biden's signature straight up looks nicer than Trump's sharpie monstrosity.
Helping poor kids >>>>> helping poor adults and retirees
"To recall, the expanded Child Tax Credit puts extra cash in the hands of virtually all American parents, leaving out only the richest."
This seems to be the newly favored way of doing "means testing"--give the money to basically everyone, except the explicitly wealthy. Doesn't this just make programs administratively burdensome while saving virtually no money? Is there any practical reason to exclude the rich?
Giving families money so that children are not stunted by poverty is a fine, empirically supported idea.
The broader natalist argument is hideous. It took 200,000 years for the one billion humans to exist simultaneously. A century and a half later, there are 7.4 billion. Global population is still increasing and won’t peak for decades. As an individual, I like uncrowded parks. As a consumer, I like abundant natural resources. As a pragmatic human, I know the best way to destroy the planet more slowly is for there to be fewer humans.
The U.S. population is still increasing. Highways are gridlocked. Cities are crowded. I pine for vast, open spaces, thinly peopled with tolerant men and women who have time to share wine, conversation and recreation unharried by large families. There are plenty of would be immigrants to change our diapers in old age.
He did it! “slow boring of hard boards.” I’ve been waiting to see that show up.