Video screenshot, Nancy Pelosi on YouTube.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and a crowd of Democrats from both houses held a press conference yesterday to promote the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) that rolled out last week, providing monthly payments to most families with kids 17 and under. Joining them were a couple of parents, both of them members of the progressive advocacy group Moms Rising, which helped push for the inclusion of the expanded CTC in the American Rescue Plan.

NPR also did a nice discussion of the CTC on Monday with Rep. Rosa DeLauro, one of several House Democrats who's fought for years to create an automatic child allowance for families with kids.

For qualifying parents (singles making up to $75,000 annually, or couples making up to $150,000), the tax credit was expanded from $2,000 to $3,600 for each child under the age of six, or $3,000 for kids aged six to 17. Half the credit is being sent to parents in six monthly checks, through the end of the year, and the rest in a lump sum at tax time.

Schumer pointed out that the tax credit will help families with kids get out of poverty. What's more, it will help something like 90 percent of all families with kids, with no moaning about what a tragedy it might be that the very rich will have to pay higher taxes.

Also, Schumer wanted to point out that for once, he was at the podium before all the House members had arrived. We've cued up the video to the start of the presser.


Pelosi, exaggerating only slightly because it's not permanent yet (but Dems are working on that!), described the expanded CTC as "Social Security for our children," and said it exemplified what she's sought as a member of Congress: making people's lives better.

PELOSI: My whole thing in politics, my "why," was the sadness over one in five children living in poverty in America, one in five children in America going to sleep hungry at night. How could it be? Well, this tax credit, I call it the Biden Tax Credit – thank you, Mr. President – does a lot to alleviate that.

The first of the non-Congress people to speak was Daniella Knight, of Annapolis, Maryland. She noted that before the pandemic, she and her husband worked opposite shifts, and with three kids, they've had to do a lot of juggling. The expanded CTC made it possible for her two older kids, aged six and 10, to attend summer camp this week, and will make it possible for her youngest, aged four, to attend preschool this fall. While she was at it, Knight also plugged the paid family leave and childcare plans that will be included in the budget reconciliation bill, noting that when her kids were born, she only had a week or two to get back to work. "I'm still not sure how we survived."

She said that during the pandemic, her husband was permanently laid off, and they lost their health insurance. He eventually started receiving unemployment, but it took six months to start paying out. Now he works days, so Knight had to quit her day job to watch the kids, because the pay wasn't enough to cover childcare. She still works remotely as a pediatric sleep consultant after the kids go to bed.

KNIGHT: Having no access to paid parental leave put us in a financial hole, having no access to affordable childcare made it impossible to dig out of it. The expanded Child Tax Credit is helping to change this. In addition to helping with the basics, and some structured summer activities, the child tax credit is also helping cover healthcare costs, which can often be unexpected with kids.

The CTC, she said, made it possible to cover the co-pay for surgery after a trip to the urgent care showed something lodged in the four-year-old's nasal cavity. (Knight thought it was a Lego; it turned out to be a feather. Kids!) The tax credit also helped pay for the six-year-old's dental surgery, when anesthesia wasn't covered by their insurance.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) visited the House to talk up the tax credit, noting that it's easy for politicians to talk about valuing families but that such talk means a lot more when it's accompanied by a plan that actually provides help. She introduced Sarah Taylor, from Stafford, Virginia, a single mom with an adult son and two teens. Taylor is a teacher working with English Language Learners; during the pandemic, she's had to teach both in-person and online classes.

Taylor noted that teaching is "incredibly rewarding," but often means "living on the edge financially," and said that lots of teachers just plain burned out during the pandemic. Because of the recession, some of her students had to drop out to work, or to watch their siblings who were out of school. A few students, she said, had even resorted to logging in to online classes while at work, hiding earbuds under their hair and hoping the boss wouldn't notice.

How will the CTC help Taylor? "My family is used to making due without," she said, "but these funds will give us some breathing room" by helping with bills and buying some extras. She also knows it'll be very helpful to her students' families.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) was so overcome by how much this will matter to working families that she seemed on the edge of tears, pointing out that many will be able to afford unheard-of luxuries like a child's bed, or shoes for a school sport, or dinner out as a regular, not an occasional thing.

That's how we feel about it, too. This tax cut really is going to make a big difference in people's lives, making everyday necessities available, and boosting the economy with all these people buying those necessities. And so many kids will grow up in better circumstances.

So tell us your stories, Terrible Ones: If you're a parent who's received the first of those automatic payments, what are you using it for? Tell us in the comments, or drop me a line at doktorzoom at-symbol wonkette dot com. My Twitter DM's are also open. We'll put together a later post sharing your stories!

UPDATE: We try to remember to mention this whenever we write about the expanded CTC, but forgot this time: Parents whose income is low enough that they don't need to file taxes still qualify for the CTC: they'll need to sign up using the IRS's Non-Filer signup tool.

[NPR / IRS Child Tax Credit Portal]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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