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Expand That Welfare State

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Any expansion of the welfare state is a major victory for justice.

Senior Democrats on Monday will unveil legislation to provide $3,000 per child to tens of millions of American families, aiming to make a major dent in child poverty as part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic relief package.

The 22-page bill to dramatically expand direct cash benefits to American families was obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its release.

Under the proposal, the Internal Revenue Service would provide $3,600 over the course of the year per child under the age of 6, as well as $3,000 per child of ages 6 to 17. The size of the benefit would diminish for Americans earning more than $75,000 per year, as well as for couples jointly earning more than $150,000 per year. The payments would be sent monthly beginning in July, a delay intended to give the IRS time to prepare for the massive new initiative.

The bill, spearheaded by Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, emerges as congressional Democrats accelerate their plans to enact Biden’s stimulus plan within weeks. It also comes days after Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) surprised policymakers with a proposal to send even more in direct cash per child to American families, lending bipartisan support to the major push for child benefits.

Biden’s proposed child benefit has quickly emerged as a potentially defining feature of his administration’s economic agenda — one that could make a lasting imprint on American welfare policy. Its execution could also prove crucial to deciding Democrats’ ability to maintain control of Congress, given its likely direct impact on the lives of tens of millions of voters.

Of course, most Republicans are outraged that this would expand welfare (dependency!) and even give the money to….the children of people who aren’t working, which is the primary way by which conservatives limit the welfare state.

The great thing about programs like this is that once they are implemented, they are very difficult to eliminate, because people actually like them. That’s why Social Security and Medicare remain relatively secure despite decades of conservative hate. It’s why the ACA isn’t going anywhere, barring Republicans taking over the entire government again and even then it’s harder every year that it exists.

Let’s make it happen.

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