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Joe Manchin steps up efforts to get parents to work for child tax credit

Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) redoubled the call for parents to work for the expanded child tax credit, echoing Republican talking points and throwing a wrench into a central part of the political agenda of his own party.

American families are receiving monthly checks of up to $ 300 per child through the end of this year, thanks to the Democrats’ US bailout, which temporarily extended the child tax credit. Democrats also arranged it so that all American families with incomes of up to $ 400,000, including those who do not earn enough money to pay taxes at all, can receive the allowance.

The measure has been hailed as one of the most important anti-poverty policies adopted in decades, and it is believed to do a lot to reduce child poverty in the United States. Children have long suffered from the highest poverty rates in the United States

Democrats want to make this expanded benefit permanent or at least extend it for several years in their next package of bills aimed at tackling a multitude of items on the agenda, such as childcare proposals, pre- maternal, health care and climate change.

But Manchin, who voted to extend the tax credit in the US bailout, has recently started to speak out against the policy, calling for it to include work requirements.

Manchin was dismissive on Tuesday when HuffPost asked him to clarify what kind of job requirements he would like to add to the benefit, saying they were “self-explanatory.”

I think raising children is a job.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

Manchin later told Business Insider that he felt “Very stronglyOn the need to limit the tax credit, saying parents without an income or a job should not be eligible for financial assistance.

“Tax credits are based on people who have tax debts,” Manchin said. “I’m even ready to go as long as they have a W-2 and show they work.”

Over the weekend, Manchin appeared on CNN to ask why the new child tax credit requires no work or education obligations for parents.

“There is no education requirement whatsoever, for better skills,” he said. “Don’t you think that if we want to help children, people should make an effort?

Manchin’s comments echo what some Republicans have said about the expanded child tax credit. In 2017, Republicans doubled the child tax credit in their Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to $ 2,000 per year until 2025, but they limited the portion of the credit that can be used. to increase a family’s cash repayment. In other words, parents had to have some taxable income to receive the credit.

Democrats changed that by using the child tax credit as a way to expand the social safety net for poor parents. By making the tax credit fully refundable, they created a direct cash benefit of up to $ 3,600 per child, even for people who don’t earn enough money to file an income tax return.

Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) And Mike Lee (R-Utah), who fought for Republicans’ expansion in 2017, made the exact criticism in February – when Democrats first proposed their own expanded advantage – which Manchin does now.

“An essential part of being pro-family is being pro-work,” Rubio and Lee said in a joint statement on Democrat policy in February. “Congress should extend the child tax credit without reducing the responsibility of parents to work to support their families.”

But in particular, since the adoption of the tax credit for children, the Republicans are rather discreet on this subject. While they don’t support the policy, they haven’t turned it into a major line of attack against the Democrats’ agenda. And at least one Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), has in fact offered an even more generous monthly children’s allowance – although he has also offered to shut down some other welfare programs, like assistance. temporary to needy families, in exchange.

The Biden administration has made the expansion of the child tax credit the centerpiece of its agenda. President Joe Biden called for making the policy permanent and proposed a credit extension until 2025.

Senate Democrats are not yet heeding Manchin’s demands on this issue.

“I think raising kids is a job,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who was one of the champions of the expanded child tax credit, in response to Manchin’s comments. Brown was adamant that there remains a broad consensus among Democrats for this policy to be extended as is.

A spokesperson for Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), One of the first to pass this expanded child tax credit, said the senator “believes he is punishing America’s poorest children because their family’s income is too low to qualify them for the CLC is self-defeating and incredibly compromising for them and for the future of our nation.

“Study after study, the demands of the job don’t work,” Bennet’s spokesperson continued. “Depriving families of economic security, food and shelter will not help them find jobs any faster. In fact, countries with child credit have a higher labor force participation rate than the United States. “

Many social programs, such as the TANF, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Unemployment Insurance, have some kind of built-in work requirement. a major advance in the fight against poverty.

It also made the program much simpler, said Joshua McCabe, a sociologist and senior researcher at the Niskanen Center who has studied child tax credits and family allowances internationally.

“Adding work requirements to the child tax credit would negate many positive aspects of making it fully refundable and moving to monthly payments in the first place,” McCabe said. “I can’t imagine what kind of administrative infrastructure and administrative burdens would arise to follow millions of families in real time as they transition between jobs and job types. “

“It would be a big step backwards for American family policy,” McCabe added.

Already family policy advocates have organized parents in West Virginia this week to protest outside the Manchin State Office against the work demands.

“Stay-at-home parents, sick parents, parents unable to work and parents with less education deserve dignity and respect, as well as the opportunity to raise their children like everyone else,” said Justin Ruben, of ParentsTogether Action, said in a report. “To instill that they are making less effort, as Senator Manchin did, is horribly misdirected and condescending. “

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Who as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee plays a central role in shaping the Democrats’ next major bill, admitted that nothing had been finalized . As far as he’s concerned, Manchin’s new complaints about the child tax credit are just one of many issues that still need to be addressed.

“There are a lot of people who have a lot of different issues, so it’s not just Mr. Manchin. There are a lot of people who disagree on different aspects, ”Sanders said. “There are people who believe in universality, and there are people who have different approaches.”

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