Discover more from Wonkette
That Time When Mitt Romney (Yes, Him) Had A Real Plan To Help Poor Kids
It's like certain awful people are allowed one good idea each.
Mitt Romney announced yesterday that he won’t be running for reelection to the Senate next year. As yr Editrix noted this morning, he deserves credit for calling bullshit on what Donald Trump and the MAGA choir have done to America, even though Mitt himself has always come off as a smarmy, out-of-touch rich guy — because he is. See for instance “Corporations are people, my friend,” and of course that time he waxed nostalgic about his just-scraping by college years, when he had to sell some stock to pay for college.
Mitt Romney's Child Allowance Plan Pretty Damn Good, Would Cut Child Poverty. Yes, That Mitt Romney!
So it was a hell of a pleasant surprise in 2021 when Mitt proposed a genuinely good plan to cut child poverty by giving parents a monthly child allowance — just like in one of those European socialist countries he used to warn Barack Obama wanted America to become. It was especially astonishing considering that it was proposed by the guy who in 2012 railed against "free stuff" and condemned the lazy 47 percent of Americans who supposedly "believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it" and didn’t pay any federal income tax — because they’re children, disabled, retired, or so poor they don’t make enough to have taxable income.
But as Eric Levitz at New York magazine explained at the time, Romney’s plan would have been "the most generous cash-welfare program in modern U.S. history." Romney's plan would provide all non-rich families with
$350 a month for every child they are raising who is younger than 5 years old, and $250 a month for every child between the ages of 6 and 17, up to a maximum of $1,250 a month. In addition to these benefits, new parents would collect a $1,400 payment just before their child's birth.
Put differently: If Romney's bill passes, then the parents of a child born next year will receive $62,600 in child support from Uncle Sam by the time that kid turns 18.
Even better, unlike every other federal antipoverty program before 2021, Romney’s plan wouldn’t punish poor kids if their parents didn’t have jobs at all; instead, the payments would have gone to all qualifying families in the form of monthly installments paid by the Social Security Administration.
Romney’s February 2021 proposal never went anywhere, mostly because when he rolled it out, the just-inaugurated Biden administration was already working with the new Democratic majority in Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan, which included an expansion of the Child Tax Credit that also went to all families with income up to $75,000 for single tax filers, or $150,000 filing jointly. (It too was available to the lowest-income families regardless of whether they made enough to be taxed.) While the expanded Child Tax Credit was in effect, child poverty dropped dramatically — by 46 percent.
This is where we also point out that not a single member of the “pro-baby party,” including Romney, voted for the American Rescue Plan.
Worse, while congressional Democrats pushed again and again for the expanded Child Tax Credit to be extended — pointing out that massive drop in child poverty — Republicans opposed it, and putative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) ultimately blocked its renewal because he thought poor people needed to be punished for not having jobs, and he worried without evidence that recipients would “just spend the money on drugs” because Joe Manchin is an asshole.
Romney tried again to revive his child allowance plan in 2022, and even gained a couple of Republican cosponsors after making it a little crueler with work requirements, but the bill again went nowhere, and now Romney’s going back to Utah and no Republican will ever care about child poverty again.
This week the Census Bureau reported that child poverty rose sharply last year, properly crediting that to the end of the expanded credit. Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), a steadfast advocate for the credit, said in a joint press conference with other Democrats,
“We have now proved something pretty phenomenal and at the same time, pretty obscene. And what we've proved is that poverty for children in America is not some accident. It's a policy choice.”
With Romney leaving next year, no Republican will ever propose a bill to reduce child poverty again. But the Right is happy to blame Joe Biden for what happened after they (and Manchin) torpedoed the expanded tax credit. Following the Census Bureau report, Fox News slammed Joe Biden for the increase in child poverty that occurred after Joe Manchin and 100 percent of Republicans refused to extend the Child Tax Credit expansion. You simply can’t make this shit up.
It’s the same old rightwing playbook: Blow up the railroad and complain that the government can’t make the trains run on time.
So yeah, Mitt Romney had a good idea one time. Sure would be great if we could protect poor kids from the tender mercies of his colleagues.
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please subscribe, or if it’s more convenient, you can make a one-time donation right here, right now!