Democrats Gonna Cancel Child Poverty Right Along With Dr. Seuss!

Congress

Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro

While Republicans angrily and defiantly read Green Eggs and Ham, Democrats are cutting child poverty almost in half. That's one of the cooler items in the COVID-19 stimulus bill that Democrats alone just passed. The American Rescue Plan would temporarily expand the child tax credit for a year and make it fully refundable. It increases the credit from $2,000 to $3,000 per child ($3,600 per child under age six) for many families. Recipients are no longer required to earn at least $2,500 a year, and now 17-year-old children can qualify. The IRS will send half of the credits to qualifying families in advance through monthly direct payments of up to $300 per child from July 2021 to December 2021.

Not a single Republican voted for this.

Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio specifically targeted the kid-friendly proposal in a February op-ed. He said it wasn't "a pro-family policy, no matter how much Democrats will claim it to be." This is because without a work requirement it's just “welfare," which is BAD, even during a pandemic. The unemployment rate is 6.2 percent and a shocking 9.9 percent for Black Americans. People aren't not working because they'd rather run for president. That was Rubio's excuse a few years back. COVID-19 shut down entire industries, and it takes time to transition.

But Rubio is still skeptical that human compassion has long-term benefits: "If pulling families out of poverty were as simple as handing moms and dads a check, we would have solved poverty a long time ago." Yes, it actually is that simple, and there are so many problems we might've solved a long time ago if we didn't have to deal with Republicans.


NPR reports that the monthly benefit will help families manage unpredictable expenses, like a child's illness or a car repair.

"If you have a child allowance like this, all of a sudden you have more of a buffer, more of a cushion that can address those concerns," says Bradley Hardy, an associate professor of economics at American University. "My view is that it's the right thing to do, but also that it's sound economic policy."

Chinara Johnson from New Haven, Connecticut, is one of those parents who does everything Republicans seem to believe poor people don't. She works. She looks out for her kids. But life is still incredibly hard. The breast cancer survivor has five-year-old twin boys and an eight-year-old daughter. Her car died a year ago and she can't afford to get it running again. She wasn't eligible for a child tax credit previously because she didn't consistently earn enough money. (She stays home with the kids because she can't afford childcare.) The American Rescue Plan could provide her with $3,600 each for the boys and $3,000 for her daughter in federal child tax credits. Even if that just helps repair her car, it's a game changer.

Johnson's story isn't unique. So many women, especially minorities, are equally struggling.

From the New York Times:

A year ago, Anique Houpe, a single mother in suburban Atlanta, was working as a letter carrier, running a side business catering picnics and settling into a rent-to-own home in Stone Mountain, Ga., where she thought her boys would flourish in class and excel on the football field.

Then the pandemic closed the schools, the boys' grades collapsed with distance learning, and she quit work to stay home in hopes of breaking their fall. Expecting unemployment aid that never came, she lost her utilities, ran short of food and was recovering from an immobilizing bout of Covid when a knock brought marshals with eviction papers.

Anyone in the past year who avoided these situations was damn lucky. We should do all we can to help those less fortunate, not tweet bullshit about how the best stimulus is a job.

The improved child tax credit is expected to lift another 4.1 million children above the poverty line and reduce the remaining number of children in poverty by more than 40 percent. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the American Rescue Plan as a “parade of left wing pet projects that [Democrats] are ramming through during a pandemic."

Yes, Democrats' pet projects include macrame and not letting children starve.

Here, have all our What's In the Rescue Plan? posts

It's really a big heckin' deal, isn't it?

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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