New Child Tax Credit Is a UBI for Kids that Lifts Millions Out of Poverty

While much of the media has remained focused on the $1400 stimulus checks included in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the expanded child tax credit is a big win for progressives.

The relief package, which Biden signed on Thursday, allows parents to claim a refundable tax credit of up to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 years old and up to $3,600 per child under 6. Those who qualify for the refundable credit can opt to receive that credit in the form of monthly payments up to $300.

“Sometimes progressive ideas sound radical at first… and then they become mainstream,” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif). “The child tax credit is basically a universal basic, guaranteed income for children that’s been advocated for years, but we were able to do it now with hardly ever a peep.”

Although temporary, progressive Democrats in Congress are already advocating to make the tax credit permanent. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the expanded credit “would result in historic reductions of child poverty.” They estimate that permanently enacting the proposal would lift 4.1 million children above the poverty line – effectively reducing child poverty in the country by 40 percent. It would lift an additional 1.1 million children above half the poverty line – or out of “deep poverty.”

According to the National Academy of Sciences’ panel on child poverty, “The weight of the causal evidence does indeed indicate that income poverty itself causes negative child outcomes, especially when poverty occurs in early childhood or persists throughout a large portion of childhood.” By lifting 4.1 million children completely out of poverty, and another 5.75 million closer to the poverty line, the expanded Child Tax Credit stands to have a significant impact long into the future if it is made permanent.

“This would have the greatest permanent cut of child poverty in the history of the United States of America,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). “But at least for now, we have won it for one year…”

However, extending the tax credit outside of the budget reconciliation process used to pass the American Rescue Plan may be a tough fight. Not a single Republican voted in favor of the $1.9 trillion plan, with many calling it a “progressive wish list.”

“We passed five bipartisan COVID relief bills last year under a Republican President and Republican Senate. Biden’s spiking the football on the self-proclaimed most progressive package ever written. I thought it was COVID relief,” complained Sen. Bill Cassidy on Thursday, as President Biden addressed the nation.

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