Juan Williams: Biden’s child tax credit is a game-changer


As President Biden might put it, his expansion of the child tax credit is a “Big F—ing Deal.”

How big?

Check out TikTok videos of parents singing and dancing about #ChildTaxCredit2021.

{mosads}The plan means five million children will no longer have to live in poverty, according to Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.

The New York Times reports that experts believe the money could “cut child poverty by nearly half, an achievement with no precedent.”

That’s why those parents are dancing. And it is not just poor people. Working-class and middle-class children are getting jiggy with this financial boost.

More than 80 percent of America’s children have reason to dance at having more money for food, school supplies and clothes.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) told the Times the move was “the most transformative policy coming out of Washington” since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

The money is part of the American Rescue Plan to stimulate the U.S. economy as it emerges from the COVID pandemic. The bill was passed by congressional Democrats with no Republican votes.

The headline from the bill was the tranches of emergency money to distribute vaccines and bail out struggling businesses. But the package also had something for people who don’t vote and don’t contribute to campaigns — children.

Democrats created a 21st century social safety net program for people under 18, the nation’s poorest age-group. Currently 14.4 percent of American children live in poverty, including more than 20 percent of Black, Latino and American Indian children.

The one-year plan is not welfare. The money goes to children in families with working-class and middle-class incomes as well as to the poor.

Guess who is reacting to this historic moment with silence: Republicans.

Perhaps the Republicans who opposed the bill are speechless because so many of them are millionaires.

The little Republicans have said about the plan is to label it as “socialism.”

What Republicans don’t seem to understand — or if they do understand it, they cynically chose not to acknowledge it — is that keeping people out of poverty, especially the elderly and the young, is wildly popular even with capitalism-loving Americans.

Polls show high public support for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, health care for veterans, and the Affordable Care Act. Americans also support unemployment assurance and the nutrition program popularly known as WIC.

All those popular plans fit the GOP’s twisted definition of “socialism.”

An Axios/Momentive poll released in June found that 41 percent of all American adults have a positive view of socialism, up from 39 percent in 2019.

Axios reported that 60 percent of Black Americans and 45 percent of American women have a positive view of socialism.

Note that Republicans did not call it “socialism” when they passed President Trump’s giant tax cuts for corporations and the rich.

Even before Trump’s GOP drove up the national debt with those tax cuts, the party was critical of the cost of Social Security.

In 2012, then-House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he didn’t want the “safety net” to “become a hammock.”

I get Ryan’s point.

Government should always encourage hustle. My 2006 book “Enough” called for Americans to stop waiting for government help and follow the self-help formula that begins with strong families, staying in school, hard work and taking personal responsibility.

But Ryan’s view implied that people who work hard but make minimum wage or stumble are unworthy and lazy.

Ryan was Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) running mate in the 2012 presidential race when Romney told a group of wealthy donors “there are 47 percent of the people” who vote for Democrats because they “believe the government has a responsibility to care for them…These are people who pay no income tax.”

There was backlash to Romney’s words because his caricature included seniors and people who were too poor to have a tax liability.

{mossecondads}The irony here is that today’s GOP, with Trump as its leader, is dependent on older, white voters. Those voters are on Social Security, and they depend on it even if they are not in poverty.

In a time of rising income inequality, Americans fear falling into poverty. It is a real concern across party lines in these times of polarized politics.

But the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee said earlier this year that Biden’s program amounts to a “socialist agenda.”

The 2022 midterm elections are “going to come down to two different agendas: one is about freedom— one is about having the right to self-determine your economic freedom, your individual liberties. The other one is about big government,” National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) told reporters in February.

Emmer knows that polls show the GOP’s shouts of “socialism” are effective against Democrats in some congressional races, notably in districts with large Hispanic populations. This is particularly true in Florida, a state with significant numbers of voters who have roots in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

But now with families seeing real help for children in their bank accounts — and dancing on TikTok — the GOP’s screams of “socialism” are no sure bet.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags 2022 midterm elections Child poverty Child tax credit Cory Booker Donald Trump Joe Biden Mitt Romney Paul Ryan Social programs Socialism Tom Emmer

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