The 2021 US Census shows rates of child poverty, when assessed with the additional poverty measure, fell from 9.7% of the population to 5.2%, an astonishing reduction of 46% compared to 2020. This decrease represents 3.4 million children and is mainly attributable to the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) benefits implemented as part of the US bailout.
However, these expired in December and were not extended via the Inflation Reduction Act. Senator Mitt Romney has proposed the Family Security Act 2.0 as a legislative solution. It would provide monthly benefits of $350 for each young child (0 to 5 years old) and $250 for 6 to 17 year olds. Unfortunately, however, he does not see this measure as an effort to fight poverty, but only as a strengthening of marriage and an encouragement to expand families. Thus, its plan penalizes the most vulnerable, namely single-parent and very low-income families vs. two-parent families and/or families earning up to $400,000/year. Similarly, the financing mechanisms it proposes reduce other support benefits such as the Earned Income Credit.
Data from the bailout show that families used CTC’s expanded benefits for basic needs such as food, rent, child care, debt reduction and school expenses. This improved financial stability for children will greatly improve their ability to break intergenerational cycles of poverty by reducing malnutrition and housing instability, while improving educational achievement and future earnings.
Accordingly, we salute Senator Romney’s efforts, but we also encourage him to draft a 3.0 version that addresses these structural concerns and onboard his fellow Republicans.
We have seen what child tax credit benefits can do, especially when they reach the most vulnerable among us. We need to put our money where our mouth is and invest in our children, our families and the future of our country.
Ellen Brady, Murray
Send a letter to the editor