Means-Testing Child Tax Credit Should Be Avoided In Congressional Bill


The debate about means-testing for eligibility in government programs is back as Congress presses down to craft a Build Back Better bill that can pass by month’s end. In a never-ending series of demands from the likes of Senator Joe Manchin the troubling threshold of which person can be aided by government services, and who can not, is again up for discussion.

I recall when Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson was working on welfare reform. One of the salient points that Democrats in the legislature continuously made was if a person who was receiving benefits was cut off due to an income cap, that once it was reached the real possibility existed that the recipient would then fall backward and the cycle of problems would restart. The loss of that program, or the lack of it continuing, could be very important to the individual until a more solid footing is attained.

If I were to sum up my concern about the ongoing debate in the Senate about meana-testing it would come back to the one this state had in the late 1980s. Do we fashion a policy to work or one that is politically created for the ones who continually disdain allowing government to work?

I am sure data must exist showing to what degree the anxiety over receiving governmental programs is so high that a person never seeks it. I also suspect the means-testing argument is often a shame-inducing component for some to not be viewed as ‘poor’ or ‘needy’ and not then ask for assistance.

The use of political rhetoric, and the damage it has created on this issue can be summed up by knowing that public schools, which are championed as essential are not subjected to means-testing. The power base and political muscle from the unions are well known. As they should be.

But not for the social assistance programs that assist those who have no megaphones or powerful lobbyists.

It is that last point that needs to be considered when knowing how Manchin’s demand for means-testing the child tax credit—a credit that is a major legislative undertaking this year—points out the divide between the party’s ideals and the ones who discard them so readily. Data proves why the credit is needed, and how it can lift people out of poverty.

The reason we all can, and should, make the claim for strengthening the foundation of families is based on data. Researchers at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy are estimating that Biden’s new credit will cut childhood poverty by 45%. The IRS has estimated that 39 million families and 65 million children will benefit under this plan.

One would think that a senator from West Virginia would be more clued into poverty. And desirous of breaking that chain of generational lack of hope.

And so it goes.

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