Senate Republicans, Joe Manchin Successfully Drive 3.7 Million Children Into Poverty
In July of last year, three million children were lifted out of poverty, thanks to the expanded Child Tax Credit — "expanded" to children who had previously been too poor to receive it, and paid out monthly instead of at tax return time. By December, that number had increased to 3.7 million.
During that time, we heard some really incredible stories about what parents were doing with that money — using it to buy their children real beds or using it to help defray some of the costs of their kid's broken leg (which without insurance, in the US, can cost over $2500). Who knew that a mere $250 or $300 a month could be such a miracle to so many people?
Alas, thanks to the efforts of Senate Republicans and one Senate Democrat who heard somewhere that probably people are just spending the money on drugs, the child poverty rate went up 40 percent between December of last year and January of this year. That's 3.7 million more children who are now living in poverty who were not living in poverty just a month before.
The Republicans Joe Manchin should feel really good about themselves right now.
January 2022 child poverty rates.
These numbers come from the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, which released them in a report on Thursday, adding that "while in place, the monthly Child Tax Credit payments buffered family finances amidst the continuing pandemic, increased families’ abilities to meet their basic needs, reduced child poverty and food insufficiency, and had no discernable negative effects on parental employment."
It says a lot about the US that the latter would even have to be mentioned as a possibility, as it is pretty laughable that there would be anywhere anyone could live here and survive by themselves on $250 or $300 a month, never mind with a kid. Apparently we have to pretend that we live in a world of desperately lazy drug addicts looking for any opportunity to get one over on us, rather than face the bleak reality that we are in fact a country where most people really just want to be able to take care of themselves and their children.
As much as Joe Manchin may have wanted to believe that money was going to drugs, the statistics show that both this and the $600 a week unemployment supplement actually had a significant impact on child poverty throughout the last year.
This is good for parents, it's good for children, but it is also good for everybody. When people at the bottom have money, they spend it. They don't shove it into savings accounts. That means that other people make money too. It's not hard.
Withholding this money because someone, somewhere might "spend it on drugs" is also nowhere near as effective as some other policies that could help people with addiction issues, if that is what Joe Manchin is worried about. Although it seems likely that he is about as worried about someone ODing as Louie Gohmert is about someone who doesn't know they are allergic to shellfish getting anaphylactic shock from eating a king crab leg they bought with their SNAP money. It's not about either of those things, it's instilling terror in people that greedy poor people are going to take their money and do irresponsible things with it.
Now, conservatives have really been doing their darndest to claim that all of the inflation we are currently experiencing is the result of programs like this, not to mention all those greedy cashiers making an extra few dollars an hour. That is some bullshit. As Elizabeth Warren pointed out this week — whether or not Instagram factcheckers agree — what's happening is that corporations are taking advantage of our current situation and jacking up prices in order to increase their own profits, and the anger people have over inflation needs to be directed at them, not at parents trying to feed their children. No one is being hurt by the "greed" of the poor, but we are all being fucked by the greed of these giant corporations.
Everything people who supported the Child Tax Care Credit said would happen has ended up happening. We now know for a fact that this lifted almost four million children out of poverty, and instead of continuing it, we just let it expire. That is sickening. Especially when we spend so much goddamned money on wars and incarceration and other nonsense that should be nowhere near as high a priority as making sure that children in this very rich country are not going to bed hungry at night. It would be nice if we could try doing some triage for a change.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse