- Democrats are doubling down on efforts for Biden to keep the expanded child tax credit.
- “Kids don’t grow up in five years,” one House Democrat said.
- Making CTC changes permanent could stumble in the Senate if Democrats decide to bypass the GOP.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
As President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion emergency stimulus law was about to clear the House in late February, some Democrats started setting the stage for their next battle: Making the beefed-up child tax credit permanent.
Sen. Sherrod Brown told reporters that Democrats would press the Biden administration on the issue as soon as the stimulus law was signed, speaking as part of a group of other Democratic lawmakers.
He later tweeted an image of the group on Twitter. It included Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Booker and Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Suzan DelBene, and Ritchie Torres. DeLauro recently dubbed the group “the CTC Six.”
—Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) March 10, 2021
The stimulus strengthened the child tax credit, increasing it to $3,600 per child under age 6 and $3,000 for kids between 6 and 17. Previously, the amount stood at $2,000, and families with little or no tax obligations could not tap into it.
Those Democrats are now ratcheting up the pressure on Biden as he gears up to unveil a massive new economic plan focused on families on Wednesday, particularly education and childcare. They are already warning against a temporary expansion until 2025, a five-year extension the White House is reportedly eyeing.
“Kids don’t grow up in five years. Parents need predictability to plan for their future over the long term,” DelBene told reporters on a Tuesday press call. “I asked the president in March if he supports permanently expanding the credit, and he said yes.”
The right-leaning Tax Foundation projects it would cost $1.6 trillion over a decade.
“Some have been concerned about the cost. I say the cost of inaction is too great,” DelBene said. “The president will propose his plan. Congress is going to write the bill.”
Democrats may move parts or the entirety of Biden’s $4 trillion infrastructure plan through reconciliation, a maneuver to guard legislation from the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and pave the way for a simple-majority vote. But it must comply with strict budgetary rules, such as barring any deficit increases after a decade.
“The issue really is budgetary score and permanence,” Zach Moller, a budget expert from the center-left group Third Way, told Insider.
Moller said making the child tax credit expansion permanent requires a finding a way to pay for it. “All of these things are competing for offsets. You can increase the deficit inside a 10-year window, outside that 10-year window or whatever budget window you want for the bill, you cannot increase the deficit.”
Meanwhile, other lawmakers said Republicans would fight to prevent an extension, or tie it to another conservative policy priority.
“We know that when this expires in five years … if we don’t do a permanent fix, we know in five years they will come after that and they will want huge corporate tax cuts, which they always do,” Brown told reporters.
Republicans largely oppose the child tax credit expansion, assailing it as a costly liberal priority. But some conservatives, Mitt Romney and Josh Hawley, have put out proposals over the last few months that include monthly cash benefits to families. Hawley’s plan was focused on married couples and it had a steep income requirement to qualify.
Still, many conservatives argue a program for monthly cash payments with no strings attached would foster dependency on the federal government.
“I still think its a bad idea to create a policy where large swaths of the population come to anticipate and look forward to the federal government sending them a check in the mail every month,” Scott Winship, director of poverty studies at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, said in an interview.
Democrats are gearing up to continue making their case to the Biden administration, focused on its benefits to families. Many believe that argument will be easier to make once the IRS begins distributing the checks in July.
“Just because it doesn’t make it in the plan, it doesn’t mean that door is completely closed,” a House Democratic aide told Insider.