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The tragic killing of the child tax credit

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It was going to be hard to extend in a Senate where every senator has a veto, but the child tax credit in the ARP was great policy:

When the history of American hardship is written in some distant decade, two recent events may capture the whipsaw forces of the age.

Child poverty fell to a record low. And the program that did the most to reduce it vanished.

The story of that temporary program — technically, a tax-credit expansion but more plainly a series of monthly checks to most families with children — was extraordinary in every way. A guaranteed income in a country long resistant to one, the expanded child tax credit emerged from obscurity to win support from most of the Democratic Party, aided millions of low- and middle-income families during the pandemic and helped cut child poverty nearly in half.

Then it died, as President Biden’s efforts to preserve it drew unified Republican opposition and the defection of a crucial Senate Democrat. Critics called the monthly payments of up to $300 per child an expensive welfare scheme that would deter parents from working by providing cash aid regardless of whether they had jobs.

The checks have ended, but the battle has not. Supporters say new evidence shows the payments lowered hardship and nurtured children without reducing parental employment. Some Democrats hope to revive payments to small groups of parents as part of a year-end tax deal, and despite Republicans taking control of the House in January, restoring the full program remains a long-term Democratic goal.

Keep reading the story for some good examples of how the plan provided critical benefits and gave dignity to struggling families, and compare then to Joe Manchin’s vision of people taking the money to buy crystal meth. Heartbreaking.

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