The United States made monumental progress in monthly poverty rates by rolling out an expanded child tax credit program as a COVID-19 relief measure last year, but President Biden has paid cold water in hopes that the program would be extended so that families could continue to receive much-needed services. financial aid.
Speaking on the eve of his year as president, Biden praised the progress his administration has made since taking office, including a nearly 40 percent drop in child poverty rates. A big driver of this decline has been its expansion of the child tax credit program, which increased the level of benefits, expanded eligibility for lower-income families and paid benefits in monthly installments.
The program began distributing funds in July and sent its final payment to families in December 2021. Biden hoped to include a five-year extension of the child tax credit program in his Build Back Better legislation, but on Wednesday he confirmed that this may not be the case. possible.
Biden said he was “not sure” if the program would fit into his package, despite it being an area that was very close to his heart.
“These are huge things that I’ve run on, that I care about very much, and I’m going to keep coming back to that,” Biden said.
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The results of the child tax credit program have been significant, as an analysis by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University found that it prevents 3.7 million American children from living in poverty. Without the child tax credit in January, the center estimated child poverty for the month would be around 17%.
In December 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided six months of advance child tax credit payments worth up to $250 per child ages 6 to 17 and up to $300 per child under 6 years old.
Growing up in poverty causes lasting damage, with Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noting that poverty can lead to unstable housing, frequent moves, inadequate nutrition and high family stress. All of this can often take a heavy toll on children, leading to lower education levels, lower incomes, a higher likelihood of being arrested, and poor health in adulthood.
Free community college was another issue Biden set expectations for, indicating it was an area he wasn’t sure he could pass within Build Back Better. It’s a concept Biden campaigned on, offering two years of free community college that would help reduce barriers to higher education and student debt.
“I think we can split the pack, get as much as we can now and come back and fight for the rest,” Biden said.
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