40 Organizations Calling for Reinstatement of the Enhanced Child Tax Credit

A mom, dad, son, and daughter unpacking bags of groceries in their kitchen and playing with the food.

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For families in need, the enhanced Child Tax Credit was a lifesaver.

Key points

  • The enhanced Child Tax Credit cut child poverty by 30%.
  • Five months after enhanced Child Tax Credit payments ended, nearly 50% of families could not afford enough food to feed their families.

More than 40 racial justice organizations are calling on Congressional leaders to reinstate the enhanced Child Tax Credit. In a letter to Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer last month, these organizations wrote, “The impact of the end of monthly Child Tax Credit payments has been particularly profound — and painful — for communities of color.”

The letter writers

Big names like NAACP, the Economic Security Project, The Leadership Conference, Community Change Action, National Urban League, and Unidos are just six of the 40 organizations signing on to the letter.

Their inspiration is easy to understand. A CNBC report revealed that nearly 50% of the families who received monthly payments through the enhanced Child Tax Credit could not afford enough food to feed their families a mere five months after payments ended in Dec. 2021. In short, families are struggling.

How the enhanced Child Tax Credit helped

According to an NPR report, enhanced Child Tax Credit benefits reached more than 61 million children, and the payments that landed in bank accounts between July and December 2021 cut child poverty by roughly 30%.

President Joe Biden hoped that the monthly payments would continue through at least 2025, but not a single Republican lawmaker supported the bill. So after six months of helping American families, the extended Child Tax Credit was killed in Congress.

Despite fears that the money would be wasted, an analysis of US Census Bureau data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that 91% of low-income families used enhanced Child Tax Credit benefits to pay for basic needs, like food and a roof about their heads.

Despite the success, it’s an uphill battle

The number of children living in poverty reached post-war records even before COVID-19 hit American shores. Millions of children routinely missed meals and went to school hungry.

When first imagined in the halls of Congress, the enhanced Child Tax Credit was meant to reduce the number of hungry children and cut down on financial anxiety for millions of families.

And yet, GOP lawmakers fought against enhanced assistance. To illustrate what some were thinking, one need look no further than a press release from Republican senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio. Lee and Rubio stood firm, saying that it was “the responsibility of parents to work to provide for their families,” and that they refused to support a program they jointly referred to as “welfare assistance.”

In the end, every Republican lawmaker voted against providing help, just to ensure the children of unemployed Americans could not benefit. Although the bill passed, a compromise meant that enhanced Child Tax Credit benefits would only last for six months.

The notion that a deeply divided Congress would revisit extended Child Tax Credit benefits before midterm elections may not be impossible but seems unlikely.

A nation of family values?

Politicians like to tout their support of family values, but what does that mean when lawmakers vote against assistance en masse, out of fear children whose parents are unemployed might receive the food they need to thrive?

Among industrialized nations, the US is infamous for its lack of support for children and families. To offer a sense of how little the US invests, Pew Research reports that out of the 41 countries analyzed it, the US is the only one that does not offer paid parental leave.

Here’s a short sample of how other countries work to build strong families:

  • Parents in Denmark receive $673 per quarter for each child until they hit the age of 18.
  • Swedish parents are sent $136 per child each month.
  • Canadian parents earning less than $32,000 receive $569 for each child under the age of six.
  • Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland each spend more than $20,000 per child on early childhood care alone.
  • Even a poorer country like Chile spends nearly $8,500 per child.

For a wealthy nation, child hunger is a choice

According to the Urban Institute, going along with President Biden’s plan to expand the enhanced credit through 2025 would have significantly reduced child poverty and lifted more than 4 million children out of poverty.

In their letter to Senator Schumer, the organizations wrote, “Poverty is a policy choice. Allowing millions of children, including more than 2.5 million Black and Latino children, to fall back into poverty is also a political choice.”

The fact that so many legislators voted against giving families with a child under the age of six $3,600 does not bode well for what they’re likely to do going forward. But only time will tell if American families will see any future assistance in the form of new or reinstated enhanced Child Tax Credits.

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