Democrats They may change monthly payments to parents as part of a major policy bill expected to pass this fall.
Starting in July, most parents are receiving $300 per month for each child under 6 and $250 for children ages 6-17. Monthly payments are small for families earning more than $150,000 a year.
Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) has said he thinks the policy is too liberal. He says Democrats should kick out wealthy families, because they don’t need the money, and kick out the poorest families too, so that they can be punished for not earning more money themselves.
“Don’t you think, if we’re going to help kids, people should put in some effort?” munchkin said earlier this month.
Since Democrats control only 50 seats in the Senate, they require all of their senators to support the bill—meaning Manchin can force them to change things they don’t like or Then he can tank the whole thing by withholding his vote.
Democrats regard the child tax credits as one of their biggest policy achievements, and continuing to make monthly payments last December, when they are due to expire, is a top priority.
But House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neill (D-Mass.), a key architect of the party’s spending plans, said it was “hard to say” whether Democrats were willing to change the child tax credit to stricter Will be
“We’re talking about a lot of these issues so we can get to 218,” Neil said last week, referring to the number of votes needed to approve the law in the House.
As it stands, families can receive monthly payments even if they have no earned income. Manchin favors enforcing a “need for work”—Washington jargon to cut out the unemployed and imply that they are lazy.
Democrats’ favorite thing about the Expanded Child Tax Credit is that it reduces child poverty by providing a monthly income to the poorest parents. Leaving out the poorest households would worsen the anti-poverty effect of the tax credit, and it’s hard to imagine Democrats going in that direction.
But Manchin has also complained about high-income families receiving benefits, and Democrats will probably be more willing to exclude wealthy families than poor ones.
Already, monthly payments are lower for married families with incomes over $150,000. The maximum annual credit value for children under 6 is $3,600. This amount is $50 smaller for every $1,000 a family earns over the $150,000 limit. Since there is no absolute cutoff, families with many young children can receive partial payments even if their income exceeds $400,000.
“I have people who are making up to 200 and 300 and more, 400 combined, saying they’re getting checks,” Manchin complained.
There’s good reason to think that Munchkins might ask Democrats to add a full cutoff that would prevent high-income families from receiving partial benefits: They’ve done so before.
When they were drafting the US rescue plan earlier this year, Democrats wanted to send a $1,400 check to most American households, using the same “phased out rate” that it currently holds for the child tax credit, meaning that payments would gradually decrease for wealthy families but there was no limit to who could receive them. Manchin insisted on a full cutoff for combined tax filers with incomes over $160,000, and this is how the bill ended.
A Democratic aide said Munchkin has pushed for a tighter limit on child tax credit payments privately, in addition to his public comments. Munchkin’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Party leaders have proposed expanding the credit to children without Social Security numbers so it would benefit families with mixed immigration status, and also more flexible rules for determining the eligibility of parents to have custody of their child. Possible concessions they may try to obtain from Manchin depending on the situation.
Democrats are not accidentally sending child tax credit payments to wealthy families. They wanted the monthly payments to be as wide a field as possible so that people would think of the program more like a social security benefit for the middle class than a welfare benefit for the poor.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki pointed to a lower cutoff for stimulus checks for a US rescue plan on Monday when Biden was asked about compromise on parts of the next bill.
“Look at the president’s past resolutions and what he has supported in the past,” said Saki. “In the past some areas have prioritized … income caps so that we can expand the scope of who can get it without the highest income.”