West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has an issue with the enhanced child tax credit included in the American Rescue Plan, Joe Biden’s signature COVID-19 relief bill that pays parents cash every month and has lifted millions of children out of poverty . Specifically, he wants a future version of the loan that will help fewer people due to a stricter means test.
Here’s what you need to know about Manchin’s stance on how families would suffer if he was successful and what could actually happen to President Build Back Better’s agenda in the future.
Why is the child tax credit the subject of negotiations?
The expanded child tax credit was passed in March with support from Joe Manchin as part of the US rescue plan, but is currently only expected to last until the end of this year. The president can only extend the program if Congress sends him an appropriate budget, largely thanks to internal Democratic opposition from Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the same duo that killed what he was the first federal minimum wage increase for more than a decade, from $ 7.25 an hour now to $ 15 an hour by 2025. (One study has linked higher minimum wages to lower child mortality rates in large cities.)
What does Manchin want to change about the child tax credit?
Some people want to add a work requirement and drastically lower the income limit so that the loan only goes to families earning less than $ 60,000, two conflicting priorities.
Employment obligation would mean that one parent (or parents) would not receive a child tax credit if they lose their job (s). And since half of that can be paid out in monthly installments, it would provide some level of ongoing support during a financially strained time. It is evident that parents who are out of work are among those most in need of help making sure their children have housing and food. Adding a work requirement would cruelly deprive an ongoing source of support at the moments when parents need it most.
The contradiction in Manchin’s position stems from his insistence that only the families in need of government assistance most should receive it. So he wants to lower the income limit to $ 60,000.
Currently, single applicants with incomes up to $ 75,000, heads of households with incomes up to $ 112,500, and joint applicants with incomes up to $ 150,000 receive full credit, with smaller loans to joint applicants with incomes up to $ 400,000 and single applicants with incomes up to $ 200,000.
On the one hand, Manchin wants to lower the income limit in order to limit the creditworthiness of the lowest-income families. On the other hand, he wants to deny credit to families who are in the lowest income bracket due to unemployment, which is often beyond their control because of the closure of companies.
What does the public want?
A survey for the Think Tank Family Story showed that support for the expansion of the tax credit is strong: 70 percent of the public, 80 percent of parents and 84 percent of mothers with children under five are in favor. That strong support, which persisted despite the pollster, presented respondents with the argument that the child tax credit is too expensive for the United States, a large part of the argument that Manchin has put forward, the price of the household reconciliation bill of $ 3.5 trillion to $ 1.5 trillion even after the progressives compromised their original $ 6 trillion proposal.
In West Virginia, the state that Manchin represents, 301,000 children benefit from more than $ 77 million in child tax credits given to parents and guardians. Public support is also high. The data shows that food insecurity has decreased since child tax advances began, and that people spend most of their money on basic necessities such as groceries, utilities and clothing.
In addition, according to Accountable.US, a staggering 93 percent of children in West Virginia would benefit from the expanded child tax credit under the Build Back Better plan.
What happens next?
As part of the reconciliation process, the Senate can pass laws with a simple majority. There is currently a 50-50 split in the Senate so the party cannot afford a single vote given the confidence that the GOP will vote as a bloc against the law.
That means any single senator can derail their party’s legislative process, and that is exactly what Manchin is threatened with. It’s not a good situation if your goal is to pass unusually ambitious laws.
Of course, while Manchin always has a solid Conservative Democrat, he’s still a Democrat. That means he’s probably more interested in getting a toned-down, less effective version of the Build Back Better agenda through than passing no law at all. The rest of the Democratic parliamentary group in the Senate will then face a similar choice: accept Manchin’s cuts or reject the law, risk not getting anything passed, and the new child tax credit, which expires at the end of the year and which will likely put Republicans in control of the Congress looming in 2022.
All of this is to say that we don’t know what will happen, although it is clear that the new child tax credit is one of the few federal initiatives that has made a significant difference in the lives of parents and children of the working and middle classes. The bottom line is that if Manchin has its way, millions of children, including thousands in West Virginia, are likely to slide back into poverty.
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