Getty images + Design Leah Romero
When Joe Biden was sworn in as president, he inherited an economy ravaged by Donald Trump’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women and families everywhere had been cast aside by Republicans who would rather play politics than seriously address the economic crisis. By the time Trump had left office, 2.5 million women had left the workforce during the pandemic, with little to no support from the federal government. Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had one message for women and middle-class families: You’re on your own.
It wasn’t until President Biden was sworn into office that women began to see relief. Biden’s historic American Rescue Plan, which Democrats passed without a single Republican vote, included an extended Child Tax Credit (CTC). This tax cut meant that parents would receive $3,600 per child for children under the age of six and $3,000 per child for older children.
Not only has this tax cut significantly cut child poverty and child hunger, it has also helped parents get back to work—boosting our economy and helping us recover from the pandemic. In a 2021 study, nearly 94 percent of parents said they planned to continue working or even work more once receiving the Child Tax Credit. The December 2021 jobs report showed that the national unemployment rate has fallen to 3.9 percent—the sharpest one-year drop in unemployment in United States history—and the U.S. has added 6.4 million new jobs since January 2021.
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Moms across the country have shared stories about how the expanded CTC has helped them put food on the table for their kids, pay for child care, and get back to work. At American Bridge 21st Century, we met Naomi, a mom of three and home care worker who is in school studying to become a nurse. When the pandemic hit, Naomi had no idea how she was going of care for her kids, work, attend online classes, and keep her family safe. The expanded CTC was a game changer for Naomi and millions of moms just like her. According to The Washington Post, most recipients use the CTC on basic necessities, like bills, food, clothing, and school expenses. One mother interviewed by the New York Times said she used the tax credit to get a new car seat for her daughter and fix the brakes on her car. But now, due to the Republican senators refusal to work with President Biden to continue this support, all of that progress is in jeopardy.
We know that when middle-class women and families succeed, America succeeds. Passing life-changing tax cuts and helping millions of parents get back to work shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Unfortunately, Republicans have made it one. Every single Republican voted against the American Rescue Plan. And now, even while the Omicron variant is surging, Republicans oppose expanding the CTC into 2022 as part of the president’s Build Back Better agenda—simply for the reason that they don’t want to help deliver a Biden win. As a result of these partisan games, this month families will not receive the CTC for the first time since July 2021. Per the Times, economists say the end of the CTC, combined with rising COVID-19 cases, could “cause severe hardship for millions of families already living close to the poverty line.”
Meanwhile, Republicans continue to push for massive tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Instead of middle-class families, Republicans are working for America’s richest billionaire corporate CEOs, who benefited from our misfortune during the heat of the pandemic. According to Forbes, in the first year of the pandemic alone, American billionaires saw their net worth increase by about $1.2 trillion.
Republicans’ bad faith on this is doubly-flawed: They are hoping for higher prices to use as a political tool during the midterm elections, but are unwilling to work with Democrats on tax cuts that will make life more affordable for families. In fact, Republican Sen. Rick Scott, head of the GOP fundraising efforts, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that rising inflation is “a gold mine for [Republicans.]”
Despite calls for leaders to put partisanship aside and support women and middle-class families, Republicans are refusing to work across the aisle to pass President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. The president’s agenda includes more tax cuts for middle-class families and expands the CTC into 2022 so more parents have the support they need to get back to work and provide for their families. We don’t need more corporate tax breaks—what we need is continued support for middle-class families.
If Republicans really want to grow our economy and protect their constituents, they’ll work across the aisle to provide more support for women and families everywhere. If not, they’ll have to answer to millions of voters in the midterm elections for their inaction. We’ll make sure of it.
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