Op-Ed: The Conservative Argument for Reviving the Child Tax Credit as COVID Lockdowns Ravage Families
One of the most significant impacts of the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus is upon us, as a wave of Democrat-controlled school systems has begun announcing a return to indefinite remote learning.
Meanwhile, Democrats are proving incapable of responding to the pandemic in real time, and the child tax credit — the only thing keeping some families afloat — has expired. This one-two punch poses a serious financial challenge for working parents in a time of rising inflation.
With the child tax credit, Republicans have the opportunity to step in and save the day for parents in a year that could decide the legislative majority on Capitol Hill.
So far, the omicron variant has caused the most classroom interruptions in school systems across the country since August, when school reopenings were complicated by the emergence of the delta variant. Given the dramatically higher rate of transmission of the omicron variant, it’s unlikely the classroom disruptions will subside any time soon.
With the final monthly child tax credit payment sent to parents last month, many families will have limited options for managing a return to remote learning.
Since Democrats have failed to pass their partisan version of the benefit as part of a reckless spending bill, Republicans have an opportunity to take up the mantle and provide meaningful changes to the policy in a singular CTC renewal that will benefit the economic well-being of working-class families across the country.
According to a study conducted by Humanity Forward and the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, nearly 30 percent of parents spend some of their monthly checks on child care. The coverage for this expense is likely why one in four parents is actually working more hours thanks to the CTC, according to a recent survey.
According to the Humanity Forward study, less than 6 percent of respondents planned to work less, the majority of whom are parents with infants who will be able to seek longer-term, more gainful employment.
The benefits of the monthly, fully refundable child tax credit are abundantly clear. In six months, it has lifted 3.8 million children from poverty, enabled many parents to return to work, fostered entrepreneurship and cut food insecurity by nearly a quarter.
If the moral imperative of reducing child poverty alone is not a compelling enough reason to continue this policy, the economics surrounding it do the rest of the talking — all while empowering parents, not government.
Despite the demonstrated success of the child tax credit, working mothers are still lagging in terms of workforce participation after the initial job losses of the pandemic.
The Department of Labor estimates that 1.8 million mothers dropped out of the workforce as a result of the coronavirus. If working mothers must navigate a patchwork of inconsistent local and government obstructions amid a new COVID-19 surge without the financial support of the child tax credit, many of the gains they’ve made in the past six months will be lost.
I understand the trepidation from Republicans who are hesitant to step into an intraparty fight amongst Democrats that seemingly can only help them. But we’d be forgoing a long-term opportunity for our party for ill-gotten short-term gains. We’d be ignoring parents’ pleas today for their votes in November.
We’ve got to act now.
More players in Washington appear to be involved now in the future of the child tax credit, as Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine have both expressed a willingness to reach across the aisle and come to an agreement with their Democratic colleagues. More may soon follow.
This is good news, as it represents another pathway for parents to continue receiving help from one of the few successful government initiatives since the start of the pandemic.
To kill off this policy without considering the omicron variant and the immediate effects it will have on American families in the coming months would be a mistake and would undermine ongoing gains Republicans are making with the working class and suburban women.
For Republicans in Congress, this represents yet another chance to prove they are the party of solutions.
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