After some alarming new numbers about rising child poverty, some are wishing for the return of a temporary policy from early on in the Biden Administration. Could the Child Tax Credit return?
Child Tax Credit: A Stimulus Check That Made a Difference
As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the first major piece of legislation passed in the Biden Administration, the child tax credit was expanded, leading to direct payments to most American families for most of the second half of 2021.
The credit succeeded in dramatically dropping child poverty in the year of 2021. But it was put in place as a temporary measure during the depths of the pandemic, and efforts by the White House to extend it past 2021 failed when the Build Back Better package failed to pass.
Now, new numbers are out showing that poverty, including child poverty, surged in 2022.
Census data released this week showed that “the official poverty rate of 11.5% was not statistically different between 2021 and 2022. The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rate in 2022 was 12.4%, an increase of 4.6 percentage points from 2021.”
It represented the first increase in the latter rate since 2010.
“This increase can be attributed to key changes in federal tax policy, including the expiration of temporary expansions to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as well as the end of pandemic-era stimulus payments,” the Census release said.
Ever since the expiration, some parts of the Democratic coalition have called to reinstate the expired expanded credit, although the odds of such a thing passing in the current Congress are extremely low.
A group of lawmakers called the “CTC Six” are pushing for the return of the expanded credit, and they held a press conference this week.
“We have now proved something pretty phenomenal and, at the same time, pretty obscene,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), one of the “Six,” said in the press conference, as reported by The New Republic. “What we’ve proved is that poverty for children in America is not some accident, it’s a policy choice.”
“Frankly, it is insulting to families to suggest parents are going to quit their jobs for $3,000 or $3,600. They are not, and the data is there to back it up,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said at the press conference.
“The benefits to America are extraordinary,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) also said at the press conference this week, per The New Republic. “You know, the idea that the richest country in the world wouldn’t want to end childhood poverty for its own sake defies my imagination.”
“When you cut off government payments, there’s going to be a reduction in payments received,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who had introduced a “child allowance” policy that was not ever enacted, told TNR. Romney also announced Wednesday that he is not seeking re-election next year.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), whose opposition to Build Back Better is believed to have led to the end of the expanded child tax credit, expressed “no regrets” this week in an interview with Semafor. It was reported at the time that Manchin expressed fears that recipients of the tax credit money had been spending the money on drugs. Manchin had made that move in late 2021, at a time when the Senate was 50/50 and no Republicans supported extending the credit.
“It’s deeper than that, we all have to do our part,” Sen. Manchin told Semafor. “The federal government can’t run everything.”
Also in the Semafor story, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), said that while the return of the 2021-era child tax credit is not going to happen with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, he has hope that something like it can be revived in bipartisan tax talks later this year.
“Any end-of-year tax package must include expansions to the child tax credit,” Wyden told Semafor, while the White House, per Semafor, “welcomes any bipartisan effort towards cutting child poverty.”
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.