Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has been quietly pushing for a Republican-friendly version of the enhanced child tax credit that he expects will get bipartisan support for the past few months.
His idea would reinstate the direct monthly payments that many parents relied on for six months last year to cover the costs of food, clothing, and child care when the tax credit was still in effect before Congress allowed it to expire.
In contrast, Romney’s type of additional monthly payments would impose strict work requirements, cut programs that assist the most disadvantaged Americans, and make big changes to the tax code, among other things.
While the increased work requirements and reductions in safety net programs may be difficult pills for Democrats to swallow — even before they consider the sticky issue of tax reform — a bipartisan bill may be the only way for the expanded child tax credit to make it to President Joe Biden’s desk in the near future.
Romney has mostly worked with fellow Republicans on his plan, but contacts with Democrats have risen in the last month or two, a senior GOP staffer familiar with the concept said.
“I think momentum is rising quite a bit, and there’s more interest because those on the right want to do something,” the aide said. “I think those on the left are realizing if they don’t do it nonpartisan, it’s not going to happen.”
Which Democrats might be receptive to Romney’s offer is still up in the air. He stated Thursday “there are some Democrats who have shown interest and have spoken with me.” He was adamant about not naming any.
Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who has been involved in Democratic efforts to get a renewal of the enhanced child tax credit, has stated that he is open to advancing the policy as a standalone measure, even working with Republicans to get it approved.
So far, he has stated his resistance to eliminating social services and his categorical opposition to imposing work requirements on recipients.
The president stated that “as I’ve stated previously, work requirements do not work, as study after study has demonstrated.” “In the midst of a pandemic, we shouldn’t punish youngsters just because their families are having difficulty finding work.”
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a key Democratic vote, has remained staunchly opposed to the reintroduction of the former tax credit policy, which has prevented significant progress on the Democratic side of the issue.
One of Manchin’s primary worries, which Democrats have stated they are unable to address, is that those who are not working may be eligible for benefits.
In an interview with West Virginia MetroNews’ “Talkline” on January 27, Manchin stated that any enhanced child tax credit should contain a job requirement, and he suggested a ceiling of “$75,000 or less” for those earning more than the state’s median income.
A spokesperson for Manchin said in a statement on Wednesday that the senator “supports the existing child tax credit that is still in effect,” which does not provide parents with direct monthly payments.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which was enacted nearly a year ago, doubled the child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,600 per child under age 6 and $3,000 per child under age 17.
While it was previously only applicable when tax returns were filed, the 2021 provision permitted recipients to receive half of the total credit in monthly payments from July through December, rather than only when tax returns were filed.
A recent study revealed not just how effective the payments were at lifting children out of poverty, but also how rapidly the rate of poverty returned to pre-program levels after the program was terminated.
According to Columbia University research, the child poverty rate increased from 12 percent in December to 17 percent in January, implying that 3.7 million children were forced back into poverty once their monthly payments were no longer being made available.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., suggested that he is open to hearing about the plan from Romney but isn’t interested in a program that involves job requirements.
“I’m apprehensive about the job requirements,” he admitted. “I’ll have to see what they propose.”
Blumenthal stated that employment requirements provide administrative issues, and he expressed concern about the potential consequences of these requirements for low-income households.
“I’d like to see how it works,” says the author “Blumenthal stated that it was “practically and – frankly — morally” incorrect.
What exactly is Romney’s strategy?
Romney’s proposal, which has not yet been introduced as legislation, stems from his Family Security Act, which would provide benefits in the form of monthly checks of up to $350 per child and make it fully available to individuals earning up to $200,000 per year or married couples filing jointly earning up to $400,000 per year.
Working conditions were not included in Romney’s original child tax credit proposal; nevertheless, he added, they would appease senators on both sides of the aisle, a gesture toward Manchin’s position.
In his proposal, Romney did not specify the specifics of prospective labor requirements; nevertheless, a usual threshold for state-level programs is 80 hours of work per month, as well as a corresponding amount of job training or volunteer work.
According to an aide, the law is still in the process of being negotiated and is not yet finished.
In my conversations with Democrats, including Joe Manchin, I’ve learned that they believe this is very necessary. “And, by the way, a number of Republicans, as well, believe that it is absolutely necessary — that there must be a work requirement,” Romney said last month during a speech to the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC.