In his 2024 budget request released this week, President Joe Biden has called for the revival of the expanded child tax credit policy that lifted millions of children and adults out of poverty when it was implemented in 2021.
According to a fact sheet on the budget request, the president has called for families to receive $3,000 per child six years and above, and $3,600 for each child under the age of six, up from a maximum of $2,000 per child currently.
Biden additionally calls for the tax credit to permanently be made fully refundable. Currently, many families who are eligible for the benefit don’t receive the whole credit because they don’t make enough taxable income to claim the full $2,000. This disproportionately affects families of color and single parent households, who tend to have lower incomes due in large part to racial and gender-based pay gaps. With a fully refundable credit, they would receive the funding regardless of their tax bill.
The child tax credit expansion was originally put in place by the American Rescue Plan in 2021. It was extremely effective at fighting poverty; the Census Bureau found that the policy lifted 5.3 million people out of poverty, working in conjunction with policies like the COVID-19 stimulus checks and programs like Social Security to bring poverty rates to a record low in 2021.
Then, when conservatives in Congress fought against the policy and allowed it to expire at the end of 2021, research from Columbia University found that child poverty shot up by 41 percent, plunging millions of children into precarious financial situations over which they have no control.
“This president clearly believes that the way to grow this economy is invest in the middle class and working families, and that we have to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” said director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young to Insider.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) praised the inclusion of the credit in the budget. “In his budget announced today, the President recommitted to expanding the Child Tax Credit. Now, Republicans are the only ones standing in the way of improved quality of life for our children and their families,” she wrote in a tweet on Thursday.
Child poverty is worse in the U.S. than it is in many other comparably wealthy countries. Among OECD countries, the U.S. is on the higher end of the spectrum of child poverty, only beaten by a few countries like Japan, Mexico, Romania and Israel.
Democrats have been trying to make the expanded child tax credit permanent for years now, but have reached dead ends with Republicans and conservatives like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) against the proposal; even if a bill expanding the credit passed the House, it would have little to no chance of surpassing the 60 votes needed to advance past the Senate filibuster.
Conservatives dubiously claim that the child tax disincentivizes work, but experts have shown time and again that welfare spending and government support don’t stop people from working. It’s unlikely that an extra thousand dollars or a few extra thousand dollars a year is enough to compel people to give up their salaries.
Biden also included several other benefits for families in his budget request that he has previously proposed, including guaranteed paid family leave and free universal pre-k.
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