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The child tax credit: The gift that keeps on giving

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) speaks to reporters prior to a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.
Julia Nikhinson

If you’re like us, you look forward to the holiday season every year as an exciting time filled with friends, family and a dinner so good you can’t fit into your pants for at least a week. But in all the joy and nostalgia, there’s always that one frustration you can’t get over: the one person on your list for whom it is impossible to shop.

I bet it’s the same for most of us and that the same frustration echoes from our own homes all the way to the hallowed halls of Congress.

Luckily, at least for our leaders in the House and Senate, there’s good news this year because there’s one thing on all of our lists: the newly expanded child tax credit.

We get it. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) threw a big wrench in the potential to pass the $1.9 trillion Build Back Better (BBB) bill that passed the House. On “Fox News Sunday,” Manchin told Bret Baier, “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there. This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do. And the president has worked diligently. He’s been wonderful to work with.”

There’s lots of speculation about why Manchin suddenly became a hard no on the legislation, including that Manchin blames White House staff, not the president, for a breakdown in talks. He also reportedly expressed concern that parents could use the child tax credit money to buy drugs and that Americans, specifically West Virginians, would abuse paid leave time and use it to go deer hunting.

We can’t know what’s true and what isn’t about Manchin’s decision to announce his opposition to the legislation at this point, but we do know that infighting among family members isn’t good for anyone. It’s heartening to know that President Biden and Manchin spoke on Sunday evening and that talks are scheduled to resume around BBB in the new year. This is critical for all of the provisions in the bill but mostly for our priority: the child tax credit, which offers a tremendous upside for Americans.

Let’s look at the facts. 

When Congress expanded the tax credit, working families immediately started receiving payments of up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child age 6 or older until they turned 18. That benefits 9 out of 10 families in America, potentially helping to cut child poverty in half.

Furthermore, the ripple effect helps us all. By putting more cash in families’ pockets, Mom and Dad can afford to buy Christmas presents, take the family out to dinner or travel to see extended family. That means more money for businesses providing those goods and services as well as new demand that not only protects existing jobs but may create others.

Couple that with expenses such as doctor visits, groceries and diapers that families likely can better afford since they started receiving payments in July, and the impact is easy to see.

Want to know how the economy managed to create 531,000 jobs in October and roughly 5.6 million jobs in the first nine months of Biden’s administration? That’s a big reason. In fact, unemployment is down to 4.2 percent right now, its lowest point since the pandemic began. 

That’s not a coincidence. The expanded child tax credit is the gift that keeps on giving, injecting roughly $19.3 billion into local economies, supporting an estimated 500,000 new median-wage jobs over the next 12 months and helping to pull some 4.1 million children out of poverty.

BBB is good not just for families but also for the economy. After Manchin rejected the BBB framework, Goldman Sachs swiftly dimmed its economic outlook. Of the Manchin news, economist Jan Hatzius said, “A failure to pass BBB has negative growth implications.” Gross domestic product growth is now estimated at 2 percent for the first quarter of 2022, down from 3 percent. And second-quarter growth was trimmed to 3 percent from 3.5 percent.

It’s our hope that Manchin is seeing those figures just the same as Republicans are. The implications of not passing BBB for American families could be dire. The child tax credit is an absolute must. 

We want Congress to act now. We want it to protect the child tax credit expansion. We want it to pass the Build Back Better Act, and we want it to do it now. After all, we need the gift of the Biden child tax credit to keep giving throughout 2022 and not just this Christmas. 

Jessica Tarlov is head of research at Bustle Digital Group and a Fox News contributor. She earned her Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in political science. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaTarlov.

Antjuan Seawright is a Democratic political strategist, founder and CEO of Blueprint Strategy LLC, a CBS News political contributor and a senior visiting fellow at Third Way. Follow him on Twitter @antjuansea.

Tags Build Back Better Act Child poverty Child tax credit economic outlook Joe Biden Joe Manchin

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