Nearly 1.4 million children and their families in Washington could be ringing in the new year with financial uncertainty. This December, unfortunately, could mark the final payment families receive from the Child Tax Credit, undoing the progress in economic justice and family stability we have achieved in the last year.
The CTC — a response to coronavirus relief — is on the way to reducing child poverty by as much as 40% percent, a recent Columbia University report found. So far, the CTC has helped 61 million children nationwide, with money for essentials like rent, food and medical care. In January, Congress has an opportunity to prevent parents and caretakers from losing their CTC payments through the Build Back Better Act, a social spending package delayed in the Senate.
According to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a mother of two who works full time at minimum wage could see her tax credit drop from $6,600 to just $1,800. In total, the center estimates that 10 million children could be pushed below the poverty line or deeper into poverty. The effects hit children of color the hardest. Each of the 2.9 million white children threatened by the elimination of the CTC would be accompanied back into poverty by two of their Black or Latino schoolmates.
Taking care of children should be reason enough for the U.S. Senate to act quickly. But if the moral argument doesn’t resonate, consider the economic impact. Every dollar in CTC payments returns $1.25 in economic growth, Moody’s Analytics estimates. The Niskanen Center estimates that impact is an estimated $27 billion in consumer spending over 12 months.
A November Ipsos poll revealed CTC funds are most commonly used to pay bills, buy groceries, pay rent or mortgage, purchase clothing or shoes and pay down debt. None of this should come as a surprise, because we know that families use the funds to buy things they need.
After 15 months of shutdowns and restrictions, mothers like Carolyn Solitaire in Tacoma found much needed support in the CTC.
“The rent moratorium is going to end soon. … When that stops, think about what the owners are going to do. The food’s gone up, the rents went up, utilities have gone up, gas has gone up. So where are we? It’s an awful situation. What do you do?” Solitaire said in a KING 5 interview. “COVID’s stressful enough, but knowing I can do a little bit more is really going to help me.”
The CTC means freedom from financial anxiety and provides emotional relief. One in 3 families are one $400 emergency expense away from financial ruin. It’s no wonder 4 of 5 parents across all demographics support CTC.
The good news is that rarely do politicians get to support legislative initiatives that are both good policy and popular.
Senators should remember when it comes time to vote the popularity of the CTC as well as the positive impact it has on children across the country. The CTC is not only an investment in our greatest resource — our children — it’s an investment in all American youth, regardless of race and their caregivers’ income level.
We’ve got the policy. We’ve got the support. It’s time for the U.S. Senate to do its part to keep children in Washington and nationwide out of poverty.