If you like your checks from the government, you can keep your checks from the government — and on a monthly basis, provided you have children.
That’s, at least if Democrats get their way. According to a report in Saturday’s Washington Post, senior Democrats are looking to craft legislation that would give tax credits of up to $3,600 per year per child.
One plan being discussed — modeled on coronavirus stimulus payments — would involve the IRS sending a $300 check every month to parents for children under the age of 6, with $250 checks being disbursed for every child to between the ages of 6 and 17.
Put together, that would be $3,600 for each young child and $3,000 for each older one. And though the initial measure would be temporary, the goal is to make such payments permanent, according to the report.
“The current proposal calls only for the expanded benefit to be enacted for one year, after which Democrats widely hope political pressure will force Congress to extend them,” The Post’s Jeff Stein reported.
“The benefit would be phased out for affluent Americans, though the precise income level has not been determined.”
This wouldn’t necessarily work exactly like the stimulus checks — in part because Democrats want to make this a permanent recurring payment for parents. However, it would be similar in that it would be an automatic payment from the IRS to families.
At present, the Child Tax Credit stands at $2,000 per year for every child under 17. Biden has promised to expand this in his $1.9 trillion relief package to the levels proposed by Democratic legislators and making the amount of the credit fully refundable, according to CNBC — meaning families could claim the full amount no matter what their tax liability was.
Obviously, sending checks to families would bypass this completely. The problem would be the cost, estimated $120 billion annually. Given that Democrats want to pressure Republicans to make this a recurring payment and not just a relief package item, that’s a difficult pill to swallow.
While the details of the plan haven’t been finalized, it’s going to be sold as a panacea for childhood poverty. The Post cited a study by Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy that claimed the program would reduce levels of childhood poverty by 54 percent.
“This credit is an extremely effective tool in combating child poverty, and Democrats are working to make the expanded version fully refundable and be provided to eligible individuals on a monthly basis,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, a Democrat, said in a statement, according to The Post.
There are two numbers that should make this expanded credit troubling, however: $27 trillion and $78 trillion.
The first is where our national debt is now, the second is where it’s going to be in 2028, according to data cited by Forbes.
As conservatives, it can be a facile and reflexive thing to gaze at the debt numbers, particularly when we’re out of power. For all the Trump administration’s accomplishments, spending control wasn’t one of them, and Republican legislators couldn’t necessarily be accused of pursuing the matter with great alacrity during the past four years.
However, if a Biden administration and a Democratic Congress is what it takes for Republicans to have a come-to-Jesus moment on the national debt, it should be welcomed, particularly given the free-spending nature of the ascendant wing of the Democratic Party.
More than 48 million Americans claim the Child Tax Credit at present, government data show. Expanding the payment might make great copy for the Democrats, who’d then accuse Republicans of ripping food out of poor families’ mouths if they decided to end the program after the year it’s initially supposed to run.
It’s also adding a not-insignificant chunk to the deficit by nearly doubling the Child Tax Credit — and that’s assuming, of course, it doesn’t end up being even more than that once the Democrats are done crafting this.
This is on top of the stimulus checks, the proposed increase to the federal minimum wage, extended and expanded unemployment benefits and $370 billion in state and local aid, according to National Review.
Democrats like to use words like “ambitious” and “sweeping” when it comes to the stimulus plan. “Spendthrift” and “imprudent” should be what comes to mind.
In this case, it’s hardly facile or reflexive to ask where we’re going to get the money when we have an administration that, at least in its early days, doesn’t seem to understand that we’ll all have to pay for this eventually.
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