Good for kids, good for America!
The expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) is set to start delivering monthly payments tomorrow to millions of American families with kids aged 17 or younger. As part of the American Rescue Plan, the tax credit was expanded from $2,000 to $3,600 for each child under the age of 6, or 3,000 for kids aged 6 to 17.
Half of the expanded credit will be sent to qualifying families, broken into in six monthly payments through the end of the year. The other half of the credit will go out in a lump sum at tax time. Families with bank information on file with the IRS will get the payments by direct deposit, while those who don't will be sent a check. You can check your eligibility and make sure you're enrolled at a special IRS website for the child tax credit. Be sure to pass that link on to folks who you think might need it, too!
While the biggest goal in expanding the CTC was helping get kids out of poverty, eligibility for the credit goes well into the middle class, too. The full credit is available to single taxpayers with income up to $75,000 annually, or to families filing jointly with incomes up to $150,000 a year. And partial payments, reduced incrementally by $50 for each $1000 of income over those amounts, will be available to folks making up to $95,000 singly or $170,000 jointly. The IRS anticipates about 36 million households will qualify for the expanded credit.
Qualifying tax filers will automatically be enrolled for the monthly payments; some taxpayers on the upper end of the eligibility scale may find a greater tax advantage in opting out of the monthly payments. That can also be done at the IRS site.
CNET has a good, regularly updated 'splainer here on how the credits work, how to decide whether opting out is a good idea, and general information on the expanded CTC.
What If You Didn't File A 1040 for 2020?
Parents who didn't have to file a tax return for 2020 can still sign up for the credit, even if they don't usually pay taxes. The IRS set up a "Non-filer sign-up tool" where those folks can sign up and get the credit. Or if they choose to, they can also file a 2020 tax return; the IRS is even offering "free tax days" in 12 major cities where people can get help preparing a return.
Why Is This Any Better Than Getting A Credit When You File Your Taxes?
1) As we note above, the expanded Child Tax Credit is available even to people who normally don't make enough income to file, so that's a hell of a nice thing.
2) Some people (like, say, Politico), have griped that some taxpayers may find it makes more sense to delay the expanded credit until they file their taxes, and why is the government messing things up by enrolling everyone automatically? Easy answer to that: It's not really a disadvantage for most taxpayers, and many will like a little extra money. Those who don't can easily opt out here.
2a) "But it's the same amount of credit as I'd get at the end of the year and this will just mess up my accounting!"
No it's not, it's more — particularly, again, if you were ineligible for the child tax credit before because you were too poor to pay federal income tax. I mean, it's math, jerks. Three thousand is more than two thousand. But you can still opt out of the monthly payments here. Even if you get an automatic payment this week, you can stop the other five. This is good for lots of people who have been living paycheck to paycheck, so click the clicky and then do the lump sum, and be glad you're not so desperate as to need it this month because a red state governor eliminated your unemployment, OK?
3) There is no #3.
Now what Congress really needs to do is continue this sucker in the upcoming reconciliation bill, so the credit can keep fighting child poverty. And not incidentally, so Democrats can force Republicans to explain to a huge majority of voters why they want to eliminate the benefit if they take over Congress in the midterms.
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That's right, it's this month's moneybeg! Scroll down for new stories!
Back when my good son was the only white boy at Los Angeles High School (a white girl came the next year, when he was a sophomore), he used to beg me to apply for free school lunch for him. I assumed part of it was a strong administration message beating into kids' heads to remind their parents to apply — part of school funding was meted out by how many kids qualified for the help under poverty guidelines — but part of it was literally that he felt ashamed every time he used *money* to pay for *food*.
But back then, I was the editor in chief of a weekly newspaper, earning $75,000 a year — yeah the guy before me made $60, suck on it, that guy! — or exactly what the studies said a single mom needed to live a good life in Los Angeles, one with rent and savings and actual treats. I was saving $1500 a month, taking my staff out for drinks once a week, living in a gorgeous home in a placid, jacaranda-lined neighborhood that was the ultimate unsegregated Los Angeles neighborhood: houses that originally had been for Hancock Park's help. Our happy block was a third Black people, a third Asians and Latinos, and a third gays and Jewish single moms. Once I bought two dresses at a Silverlake boutique because I liked them both.
"I understand you want me to apply for school lunch, darling," I would tell him again and again. "And I LOVE SCHOOL LUNCH! But it's for people who need it."
In California, school lunch is for everybody now. School breakfast too. It's a goodamn NICE TIME!
In 2013, radio host Dennis Prager, who purports to love God, said it was inconceivable there were even five children in Los Angeles going to school hungry. Surprisingly, he did not mean it was inconceivable that our society, the richest in world history, could let that happen, but rather that those children existed at all. And if they did, if in fact three of five teachers weren't lying when they said that they had children in class who had not eaten, Prager said, those families should get a visit from child protective services. Why, you'd think their parents had sent them to school in masks during a global pandemic!
In 2014, Paul Ryan — he was speaker of the House, do you remember him? Had a hard-on for Social Security because he no longer needed the survivors' benefits he was raised on? — gave a speech about how liberals don't love their children if they give them communist government cheese. "What they're offering people," Ryan said, and he was talking about us, "is a full stomach and an empty soul." It was a bad speech. It also misunderstood its source material like Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham.
Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan provided for a summertime extension of free lunch and breakfast for low-income kids, including extra cash on EBT cards for when schools weren't in session. And last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a budget including $650 million for all school breakfasts and lunches in the state to be provided to every student regardless of income. Before that, in October, Newsom signed a bill outlawing "lunch shaming," or the far too widespread practice of writing POOR on kids' foreheads with a Sharpie if they were in arrears for their meals. (Nobody actually wrote POOR in Sharpie, to my knowledge. One school pretty much stamped it on kids' arms, though).
This week, the Biden administration will start sending out expanded Child Tax Credit checks to most American families — and this time those few left out won't be the very poorest families, who were ineligible for it before because they didn't pay federal income taxes to offset.
Republicans truly believe, or act as if they truly believe, that helping families and the poor eat food leads to those families breaking apart. You'd think at least some of them had experienced the stressors poverty takes on family life. They must have just forgot.
Democrats very essentially believe in making it easier for people to live, and in reducing those economic stressors. They believe the first part of being productive and a good citizen is not being actively hungry. Sometimes some of them are dicks about particular aspects — Richie Neal cocking up bills to outlaw surprise billing does not help people, nor do purported libs who kibosh housing for unhoused people if it's near them — but it's as close to a universal dogma as the party has.
That's why the opinionistas at Wonkette cleave to one over the other. One group thinks feeding children
both enables and encourages irresponsible, disinterested, and incompetent parenting. Given how inexpensive breakfast can be (not to mention the myriad public and private programs that provide food for poor households), any home that cannot provide its child with breakfast demands a visit from child protective services. Any parent who cannot give a child breakfast is not too poor; he or she is too incapable of being, or too irresponsible to be, a competent parent.
The other thinks fuuuuuuuck theeeeemmmm.
And that's the side we're on. We've been called "propaganda" by very serious tax attorneys who style themselves media critics (and invite you to pay them for it), but we believe we uphold a principle, and that principle is PEOPLE NEED HELP, STOP BEING A DICK.
Please keep us going. We are ad-free, investor-free, and rely solely on our readers to fund our writers, our health care premia, pixels and this $1100 bill I just got for accidentally stealing a picture of Ted Nugent (can't even blame anyone else, it was me) as well as breakfast for our kids. Right now they want waffles apparently.
This has been a news post that became this month's Wonkette Moneybeg.
Man, I don't know how that keeps happening.
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Except you there, in the back row. You know what you did.
Hey kids, just wanted to let you know we've added a new feature to our comment moderation system! Starting immediately, or actually Saturday afternoon, all new commenters will be subject to pre-moderation for a short while before they're allowed free range commenting privileges. It's a new option that Disqus, our comment moderation system, has rolled out, and we're going to give it a try to see how it works.
Pretty weird for a site that doesn't allow comments, we know.
(Fun Fact: Disqus is the commenting system only, so if the whole site goes down, that's a problem with our platform, not Disqus. Now people who remember that can feel superior.)
Fun With Premoderation!
Here's how Disqus describes the pre-moderation feature:
It sets up a kind of parking lot for new commenters, while allowing known commenters to post without delay. New commenters are held for evaluation in a pending queue for a predetermined timeframe that [the moderators] control.
This should help us reduce both spam and trolling, and while I know a lot of you filthy fuckaducks like batting around poisonous trolls, they really do drag down the Level Of The Discourse from the already dubious standards we already have.
Now, I don't actually know yet whether pre-moderation will apply only to newly-created accounts, or also to existing Disqus commenters that have been posting at other sites but are new to Yr Wonkette. Just from the short time the new commenter screening has been in operation, it appears to be the latter. I've left a question on the Disqus moderation blog about what counts as a "new commenter," and I'll let you Terrible Ones know in an update to this post when I get a more definite answer, likely on Monday.
In practical terms, this means that comments from new commenters will go straight to moderation for approval. If it looks like a new commenter is a good fit for Wonkette (update: i.e., in compliance with the commenting policy we already have), we have the option of approving all their comments going forward, or just approving comments one by one for a few days. Obviously, a really determined troll or stalker could game the system by posting acceptable comments for a bit and then turning toxic, but that's what flagging comments for moderation is for.
That seems like a pretty good system, since at least one of the spambots we've been contending with seems to work by taking over unused accounts, possibly those with crappy passwords (I'm no geologist, just guessing there.) It should also help us protect regulars here from stalkers who try to follow them here from other sites. Fortunately, that's relatively rare to start with.
The new pre-moderation system should, I hope, prevent problems with that one jerk who has a vendetta against a longtime Wonkette user (not naming the victim in case the asshole searches the username). That troll works by posting porn from multiple lookalike accounts using spoofed IP addresses.
As for everyday ordinary trolls, I'll hang out with you doofuses in the comments and see what the general consensus seems to be. My own impulse is to banhammer 'em as soon as they arrive and say Joe Biden's a commie agent of George Soros or that Hitler did gun control.
But I know some of you love to bat around the occasional visitor from Breitbartland (or the increasingly rare visits of Turgid Love Muscle Guy), so I'm not absolutely unopposed to letting the occasional troll in from the moderation queue, for a few posts, at least, unless they're screaming bigots. No need to subject anyone to that. The nice thing about the new system is that if an asshole who's never been here does show up, they can be shut down before they've spewed tons of hate.
Update: A few replies to my brief announcement of the premoderation feature yesterday expressed concern that we'd be censoring new commenters on the basis of ideological purity. Nope, except, as I say above, we won't be letting people just roll in and start spewing hatred or spam. If a new commenter expresses disagreement with an article, that's perfectly fine (apart from screaming hate, libel, or the other stuff that is already covered by the comment policy). It would be difficult to enforce a Wonkette party line, seeing as how we often disagree about stuff in the ChatCave.
1) In other moderation matters, I just wanted to remind you all that plain old filthy talk is welcome here at Yr Wonkette, but that we have added the gendered insults c**t and tw*t (no, not "twit") to the word filter, yes even though they were formerly tolerated. This has been the case for months now, so you probably should be aware of the change. (No, please do not type in George Carlin's "Seven Words" routine to test it. Really.) For the most part, it seems to me that all of you scabrous bastards have done a pretty good job of policing misogyny in the comments, so let's keep that up.
Astonishingly, the best way not to run afoul of the commenting policy is to talk about rightwing people's terrible politics and statements, not what they look like. WHO KNEW.
2) Also, keep in mind that while Yr Editrix is sympathetic to people in trouble, there's also a general ban on non-Wonket fundraising in the comments. The name of the top crowdfunding site is in the word filter for that reason. Yes, even if you're not actually linking to a campaign; it's really the only way we can prevent such links. Technology really is clunky sometimes.
Be patient, and if your comment goes to moderation because you said it's a goddamn crime that people have to set up a [brand name of top crowdfunding site] to cover medical bills, it'll be approved. Or you could say "crowdfunding campaign" and stay out of the filter!
UPDATE: C) How could I forget this helpful hint? Because a lot of our spam traffic consists of just a URL with no actual comment preceding it, you should probably avoid posting such bare links, lest they be mistaken by other readers as a spammy thing.
So instead of a comment reading
You can avoid being mistaken for spam simply by adding a brief comment:
There are two exceptions: if you post the URL of a YouTube video or a tweet, with comment text or not, Disqus will automatically embed the vid or the tweet.
Here, have a Thornton photo. He's such a doofus. Won't sleep in the little basket bed when it's on the floor, but if it's up on the recliner, where I put it to get it out of the way of the Roomba, he'll happily curl up for a nap there. Hence, I don't usually bother putting the bed back on the floor until I want to use the recliner.
Have yourselves a lovely afternoon and remember we love you. It's now yr Open Thread!
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DARE. To ignore this bullshit.
Parents! Does your kid have tie dye tapestry hanging behind her "bed" thanks some hastily slapped up blue tape? Does she display both a tube of men's deodorant and a copy of Catch-22 on the bookshelf? Does she have a "Mile 420" sign randomly propped up against a piece of wallboard?
If so, then, friends, it's time to PANIC, because momma's little baby is a dang junkie. With a capital J, that rhymes with P, and that stands for FENTANYL. Sorry to burst your bubble, Mom and Dad, but it turns out "420" is cool kid lingo for opiates.
BE VERY AFRAID!
Or laugh your ass off at this living embodiment of that joke about parents misinterpreting LOL and ROFLMAO as internet slang for "I'll trade you a BJ for an eightball" or some such.
"Looks like a normal teen's bedroom, right? Think again," tweeted Paige Hulsey, an anchor at St. Louis's local CBS affiliate. "Coming up on @KMOV, we'll show you what parents should be looking for so they can identify signs of drug use. I was shocked at what I found in this room!!!"
Well, who wouldn't be shocked to find a fake dorm room slapped together in a random office! What kind of drug-addled fiend would park a teenager in a conference room? You know they're just going to use that foam tile ceiling as a dart board. But please, carry on, fellow kids.
We gather this report involves some kind of expose on all the places kids can hide drugs, although the station failed to post a clip of the piece, depriving the internet of the afternoon belly laugh we all need.
"This problem got even worse during the pandemic. Coming up on @KMOV, we'll tell you why and explain why 'fake' pills are a HUGE concern. Parents need to see this. It shocked me," Hulsey tweeted, along with a screenshot of her "tour" of the "bedroom" and all the "drugs" she found cleverly "hidden" in apparently normal receptacles.
Hint: That tube of dude deodorant on the bookshelf is a PLANT. So if your daughter is keeping Axe around, it probably means she's selling her panties online for smack.
Also, something something fentanyl pills hidden in tampons?
I thought #MAGA, gun laws, abortion, #covid vaccines, and climate change were some of the most controversial things… https://t.co/7LRmmfKT39— Paige Hulsey (@Paige Hulsey) 1624545277.0
And why are the pills "counterfeit"? Are they supposed to be heroin, but laced with fentanyl? Wouldn't that make them ... real, and also more dangerous?
With the greatest sensitivity to those suffering from drug addiction and the people who love them, Your Wonkette must ask you to stop this foolishness immediately. If you think you can outsmart your teenager when it comes to hiding things, you're the one who's high. Ditto for policing their online behavior — you will never be better at "cyber" than your child. It's just not going to happen. So maybe you should eat a gummy bear and turn this modern day Reefer Madness shit off.
Quit cutting up your kid's tampons and calm the hell down. In fact, quit rifling through your kid's stuff entirely unless you have a pretty good reason to think you're going to find something dangerous. It's gross and invasive and conveys to your child that you think she's not entitled to have any boundaries. Your teenager doesn't have random soda cans on the floor because he's hiding drugs. He's a slob, which is good and normal and healthy and you need to stop treating him like a criminal.
Turn off the TV and turn on the oven. It doesn't matter if the cookies are Pillsbury Poppin' Fresh. Sit down with your child, eat a cookie, and actually listen to what he has to say. Tell her you love her. Make time for them.
And FFS, don't take parenting advice from some woman in a staged conference room trying to goose her ratings by scaring the shit out of you. Local news is crap, but the kids really are alright.
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