Joe Manchin and child poverty

Democrats are in recrimination mode after their multibillion-dollar spending bill imploded, and a dishonest account is that West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is insensitive to child poverty. For months, Mr Manchin and these columns raised substantive concerns about monthly cash payments for families that Democrats never bothered to address.

Perhaps Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part thanks to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that helps get to that milestone – we don’t. can’t, ”the White House said. . To paraphrase a line from the left’s favorite politics TV show, “The West Wing”: it’s not exactly a Dale Carnegie page.

The child allowance – now more of a grant than a tax credit – this year offers $ 3,600 for children under 6 and $ 3,000 for older children. A portion is paid in monthly checks, including to parents who do not owe income tax. Building Better would have extended the extra money for another year, but now the tax credit is about to revert to the old standard of a still generous $ 2,000 per child.

The effect of the higher allowance on poverty has been overestimated because the allowance as structured crushes the incentive to work. Traditionally, a person needed $ 2,500 in income to claim the child credit, which became more generous as a person earned more to encourage advancement. This is an extremely modest income, and Democrats torpedoed that threshold for the sole purpose of sending big checks to people who are not working.

University of Chicago economists earlier this year valued that 1.5 million parents would leave the workforce as a result of the expansion. “The decline in employment and the resulting loss of income would mean that child poverty would only decrease by 22% and that deep child poverty would not decrease at all,” the authors wrote.

Mr. Manchin also had the audacity to question whether parents earning $ 400,000 need government child benefits. Turbo credit is starting to wane at around $ 150,000 for married filers, but a benefit of $ 2,000 would still be available even for high earners.

That’s because zeroing low-income credit would violate President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes for anyone earning less than $ 400,000. The Biden crowd claims to be concerned about child poverty but pays little attention to the incentive implications. Their real political goal is to hook more families into government income transfers, whatever the consequences.

Manchin also dared to point out that progressives have buried the costs of their extended credit by extending benefits for just one year. This deception allows the Congressional Budget Office to estimate the cost at $ 185 billion over 10 years, allowing progressives to use budget reconciliation and pass it with just 51 votes in the Senate. But Democrats explicitly say their plan is to extend the allowance every year. The CBO said the 10-year extension would cost around $ 1.6 trillion.

News headlines warn of families on the brink of scarcity if monthly payments are not extended but the extensive federal and state social safety net – food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies, school meals , Head Start, Child Care Assistance and more — will not cease to exist on January 1. Weren’t these programs supposed to eliminate child poverty?

Democrats want everyone to forget that some of the biggest recent reductions in child poverty occurred amid the healthy growth of the Trump years before the pandemic. The Pew Research Center reported in November 2020 that the share of American children living in poverty reached an all-time high in the months leading up to the pandemic.

Child poverty fell to 14% of children under 18 in 2019, from 22% in 2010 shortly after the Great Recession. In nine years, child poverty has fallen by almost a third among blacks and 40% among Hispanics. The eternal truth is that faster economic growth that creates jobs and increases incomes is by far the best program to fight poverty.

Democrats tried to make Build Back Better a law without political debate or compromise. The left thought they could do it by beating Mr. Manchin’s “living shit”, as he put it in a recent interview. He has no reason to apologize for asking that a bill to transform America be brought to the ordinary order of Congress.

Newspaper Editorial Report: A year that began in victory has been downhill. Images: Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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Julio V. Miller