The Census Bureau’s recently released poverty report highlighted what we knew to be true: Providing direct cash assistance to low and no-income Americans works to lift people out of poverty, stimulate our economy and empower Black and brown Americans. Particularly, the expanded Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan proved to be both effective and popular. In these last few weeks before the Midterms, Democrats should make a permanent expanded Child Tax Credit a campaign priority.
For the past two years, we’ve seen COVID-19 decimate communities, and especially communities of color, killing Black and brown Americans at double the rate of white Americans. And as these families struggled to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, the economic downturn also hit them particularly hard. But thanks to federal funds passed by Democrats in the American Rescue Plan that provided much-needed relief, millions of people were able to make ends meet.
Collectively, the expanded Child Tax Credit and stimulus checks lifted over 18 million people out of poverty, making 2021 the year with the lowest child poverty rates for Black and brown kids in American history. The government provided no-strings-attached relief that empowered people to make the financial decisions that made the most sense for them, and in turn, the entire domestic economy benefited. Not since Lyndon Johnson has any president moved the needle so much on poverty.
Though the expansion has ended, it remains incredibly popular. In key states where Democratic majorities are within reach, the Child Tax Credit had an exponential impact. In Arizona the Child Tax Credit benefited 859,000 families with 1,474,000 children; in Georgia 1,374,000 families with 2,249,000 children benefited, and in Michigan 1,105,000 families with 1,888,000 children received assistance. It’s worth nothing that every single Republican in the House and Senate voted against the child tax credit in the American Rescue Plan, even though it was their constituents who needed it the most.
When Community Change Action ran an ad test educating the public about the benefits of the expanded CTC, our campaign amassed more than 400,000 views and nearly 43,000 engagements over 48 hours and saw incredible movement with potential voting populations the Democrats need to win in November: Young voters, Black voters, Latino voters, low-income voters, women voters. Additionally, 80% of people agree that Congress shouldn’t extend tax breaks for corporations at the end of the year without provisions for families, too.
Progressives looking to win or keep their seats must understand the critical investment this credit made in the most impacted communities and look to establish a permanent fix to this problem. It’s the best way to dramatically cut poverty in America.
It’s important for progressives to stay on the offensive on this policy as Republicans, who consistently prioritize their own pockets over the needs of millions of Americans, have created an alternate plan for a Child Tax Credit that would leave a quarter of children worse off as compared to our current law. And only half as many people would be helped in their proposal compared to the 2021 expansion. Single mothers, the poorest Black and brown kids, and immigrants would bear the brunt of these cuts.
If we want to get serious about cutting poverty, this is not the solution.
The solution for economic security and stability for millions of families is right in front of us. When we empower people to meet their immediate needs, pay down their debts, spend on local businesses, and save for the future, we can create an economy that is better for all of us. And we must lead with a CTC policy that ensures Black and brown communities and women are not left behind.
We’ve seen how incredibly popular this is among Americans. Democrats have fuel for their campaigns and a responsibility to act now.