HuffPost: How Progressives Fought To Put Money In Parents’ Pockets — And Won

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HuffPost: How Progressives Fought To Put Money In Parents’ Pockets — And Won

‘Best day of my career’: The new child tax credit could be a legacy achievement for some Democrats.

On March 6, 2021, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who entered public office in 1975, turned to his colleague Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) on the Senate floor and said, “This is the best day of my career.”

Congress had passed an expanded version of the child tax credit as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden’s signature COVID-19 relief bill. The new policy is only a fragment of the sweeping bill, but it could be life-changing to families. And to a group of lawmakers in Congress, it was the culmination of decades of work.

Beginning July 15, most parents will receive monthly checks of up to $300 per child through the end of the year thanks to Democrats’ bill. The benefit amounts to a total of up to $3,600 per child under the age of 6 by the end of tax season; America’s poorest families, even those who don’t file taxes, stand to benefit. If implemented to its full potential, this expanded child tax credit could cut child poverty in the United States by half.

For Brown, who decided not to run for president in 2020 even though many thought he had a kind of blue collar credibility that would have made him a formidable candidate, the new policy could become a defining achievement of his political career. 

“I have never done anything that has this kind … of impact,” Brown told HuffPost in an interview, pausing mid-sentence to note the Affordable Care Act as an exception. “Ninety-two percent of kids in my state benefit from this.”

For nearly two decades, Brown, who co-wrote the Senate’s bill with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and other Democrats, brought together by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), have proposed expanding the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit to give low- and no-income working parents a benefit. It’s a low-key way of expanding the federal safety net after Republicans succeeded in making direct cash assistance utterly taboo in American politics.

The credits gradually got bigger, but this year Democrats had a major breakthrough, and Brown isn’t alone in feeling the gravity of the moment.

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