Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) suggested on Sunday that he was fundamentally opposed to a key element of the Democratic agenda: monthly benefits for parents.
Since July, the federal government has been sending monthly cash payments to most parents, a revolutionary policy that could reduce child poverty but the payments will stop after December if Congress does not pass a new law to keep them alive.
Manchin voted for the US bailout, which started the payments, but now clearly has doubts, saying the program should be more “needs-based” and helpful to parents.
“There is no work requirement whatsoever,” Manchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union”, where he described his opposition to his party’s plans for higher corporate taxes to pay more social spending.
“There is no education requirement whatsoever, for better skills,” Manchin said. “Don’t you think that if we want to help children, people should make an effort?
The monthly payments are technically advance payments of the Child Tax Credit, which previously provided for tax-time refunds for some families. One of the main changes Democrats made to credit was to eliminate the income requirement, allowing people to receive payments even if they had no income.
Manchin’s spokespersons did not respond to a request for clarification, but if the senator thinks it is a problem that there are no “job requirements”, it is possible that he thinks Congress should reinstate the revenue requirement.
Demanding an income would entrench the poorest parents and probably weaken the poverty reduction power of politics. Among the rich countries, the United States has one of the highest child poverty rates, in part because it was one of the only countries without a family allowance program.
When Congress sent coronavirus rebate checks to households with no income last year, it was a watershed moment – the first time the federal government had provided unconditional cash assistance to the poorest Americans.
Democrats continued this year by continuing checks for parents, with $ 300 per month per child under 6 and $ 250 per child under 18. They are now proposing to maintain benefits until 2025 as part of a larger social spending bill.
Manchin has long been the voice of opposition to the legislation within the Democratic Party, saying he dislikes both its overall cost and some of the tax increases that would offset the cost. But now he echoes Republican talking points about child tax credit payments, possibly the priority piece of legislation and the Democrats’ proudest achievement this year.
For decades, a bipartisan consensus has insisted that the federal government not help anyone unless it certifies their poverty through paperwork and tries to improve themselves by looking for a job – rules that many do. fewer people get help. The “work demands” in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, for example, have allowed a small fraction of the eligible population to enroll in the program.
The coronavirus pandemic has shattered the welfare consensus, but Republicans and Joe Manchin apparently would like to put it back.
Manchin suggested he would like to see both work requirements for the child tax credit and a stricter income threshold, since households earning up to $ 150,000 per year are eligible for full benefits. . (Households earning up to $ 400,000 may receive smaller payments.)
“I can tell you, working and working people with low income, doing everything they can to get ahead in life, it’s in the $ 50,000 and under,” he said on Sunday. “I have people who make handsets [$200,000 and $300,000] and more, up to [$400,000], saying they get checks.
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