Pages tagged "Tax Policy"
First Focus Campaign for Children — in collaboration with 17 other child and family advocacy organizations — sent the following letter to the leadership of both chambers of Congress urging them to ensure the Child Tax Credit is fully refundable and reaches all children in low- and no-income households with the greatest need.
Excerpt from the letter:
This is a pivotal moment for Congress to enact lasting, structural policy change to both mitigate the economic hardships falling on our families and children due to COVID that are disproportionately harming communities of color, and tackle our persistent and unacceptably high level of child poverty. Investments to benefit all our children today lead to positive outcomes for their health and well-being and help to ensure our nation’s prosperity. Ample research tells us that strengthening and expanding the Child Tax Credit and converting it into a monthly child allowance is one of the most powerful ways to address child poverty and increase long-term positive outcomes for our children. We strongly urge Congress to adopt changes to the Child Tax Credit, reflecting the provisions in the American Family Act (S.690/H.R. 1560), to ensure it is fully refundable and reaches all children in low- and no-income households with the greatest need.
We commend Senate lawmakers’ unanimous passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus emergency bill, and even more, for using it to offer relief to America’s struggling families and children. While some of the deal’s elements will meet the most urgent needs of our nation’s children, Congress must quickly enact even more robust measures.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R.748) sets aside more than $9 billion in food assistance to keep children and families from going hungry. The bill also funds education assistance for kids out of school; community health centers, where 30% of the patients are children; the federal program that helps families pay for utilities; and programs to help support families experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
We applaud the provision of direct cash assistance to children, families and individuals, and the removal of thresholds that will now allow the money to reach the neediest people in our communities. This cash will begin — but only begin — to meet the immediate needs of struggling families for food, rent, gas, utilities and other necessities. The amount of assistance — $1,200 per adult, $500 per child — is inadequate, particularly for children, who are engaged in critical stages of development and whose families are further endangered by lack of family medical leave and other social supports. Lawmakers must move immediately to increase and extend cash assistance, ensure it reaches all children regardless of immigration status, and to create parity in the amounts given to adults and children.
As more parents lose jobs, more families will become eligible for Medicaid. Congress therefore also must increase the amount of federal assistance to states to help them meet the increased demand. We are also pleased that the package provides additional funding for child care, but as in other areas, more is needed. Health care workers and other essential personnel on the front lines of this pandemic need child care more than ever, and child care workers need support.
We look forward to the swift passage of this bill by the House, and the swift remedy of its shortcomings in the near future.
Letter: Children should not be treated as an afterthought — pass these bipartisan and common sense bills
First Focus Campaign for Children sent the following letter to all 100 U.S. Senators, urging them to consider legislation that would improve the lives and well-being of children.
Excerpt from the letter:
In the past, an important hallmark of the Senate has been its ability to work on a bipartisan basis to reach agreement on major important problems facing the nation and its future. At this moment in time, there are a number of critical challenges facing our nation’s children that the Senate should address. Children should not be treated as an afterthought. The best interest of children should be bipartisan and something that is in all of our interest. Children are our future. Unfortunately, here are areas in which we are currently failing our children...
On December 17, 2019, the President signed into law two spending packages that cover all twelve annual appropriations bills, funding hundreds of federal agencies, bureaus and initiatives totaling $1.4 trillion for Fiscal Year 2020. Together, the packages include important investment decisions for our kids and several policy provisions benefitting children and avoids a disastrous shutdown like the one in early 2019. The two-bill package (H.R.1158 and H.R.1865) includes a $22 billion increase in defense discretionary spending as well as approximately $25 billion in additional funding for non-defense discretionary programs. The top-line spending numbers for the package adhere to the levels set forth in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (H.R.3877), which codified the federal budget for the next two years.
The deal boosts funding for key agencies that serve children and families, including the Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development departments. The funding package also includes several policy changes that are beneficial to children. However, some key priorities were neglected in the deal, especially regarding tax and immigration policies.
Below are some highlights from both bills regarding funding for programs serving children and families as well as some successes and shortcomings for certain policy changes crucial for the well-being of our children:
H.R. 1158 “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020”
Division B: Departments of Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Department of Commerce: $73.2 billion in total funding – $9 billion increase from FY19 levels
- $7.6 billion in funding for the Census Bureau, with $7.3 billion of which dedicated to carrying out the 2020 Decennial Census. This level is $1.4 billion above the President’s budget request.
Department of Justice: $32.6 billion in total funding – $1.67 billion increase from FY19 levels
- Juvenile justice programs: Both Title II and Title V received a funding increase. Title V has a significant increase at $42M from $27.5M. This is the first time Title V funding is not entirely earmarked for programs and available for all programs under the Juvenile Justice Reform Act passed at the end of 2018.
- $87.5 million for Missing and Exploited Children, an increase of $5.5 million over FY19 levels.
- $27 million for Victims of Child Abuse, an increase of $4.5 million over FY19 levels
- $97 million for Youth Mentoring, an increase of $2 million over FY19 levels.
H.R. 1865 “Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020”
Division A: Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies
Department of Labor: $12.4 billion in total funding – $291 million increase from FY19 levels
Employment and Training Administration —
- $1.74 billion for Job Corps, an increase of $25 million over FY19 levels and $728 million over the President’s budget request. Approximately 39% of Job Corps money is spent on children.
- $913 million for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Youth Training programs, an increase of $9.7 million over FY19 levels
- $94.5 million for YouthBuild Activities, an increase of $5 million over FY19 levels
Department of Health and Human Services: $94.9 billion in total funding – $4.4 billion increase from FY19 levels
Administration for Children and Families (ACF) – $24.4 billion, an increase of $1.2 billion over FY19 levels.
- $5.8 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, an increase of $550 million over FY19 levels
- $10.6 billion for Head Start, an increase of $550 million over FY19 levels
- $275 million for Preschool Development Grants, an increase of $25 million over FY19 levels
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – $8 billion, an increase of $636 million over FY19 levels
- $25 million, split evenly between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for conducting research on firearm injury and mortality prevention services. This marks the first time in history that these agencies will be able to conduct research on gun violence.
- $37 million for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, an increase of $2 million over FY19 levels
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) – $7.3 billion, an increase of $177 million over FY19 levels
- $944 million for programs to improve maternal and child health, including an additional $5 million to reduce maternal mortality. This is a $17 million increase over FY19 levels.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – $5.9 billion, an increase of $140 million over FY19 levels
- $102 million for Project AWARE, an increase of $33 million over FY19 level.
Department of Education: $72.8 billion in total funding – $1.3 billion increase from FY19 levels
Programs Serving Students K-12 – $40.1 billion, a $5.9 billion increase above the President’s budget request.
- $16.3 billion for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, an increase of $417 million over FY19 levels.
- $13.9 billion for Special Education funding, an increase of $417 million over FY19 levels.
- $12.8 billion of this Special Education funding will go to IDEA Part B Grants to States, an increase of $400 million over FY19 levels.
- $20.1 million will fund Special Olympics, an increase of $2.5 million over FY19 levels.
- $1.48 billion for Impact Aid, an increase of $40 million over FY19 levels.
- Three programs slated for elimination under the President’s budget received funding increases:
- $2.1 billion for Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, an increase of $400 million over FY19 levels.
- $1.2 billion for Student Support and Academic Enrichment State Grants, an increase of $40 million over FY19 levels.
- $1.2 billion for Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Renamed from 21st Century Community Learning Centers), an increase of $28 million over FY19 levels.
Other Education Highlights
- $101.5 million for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program, an 8.5% increase over the previous year, and a 32% increase over the past four years.
- An overall increase for Higher Education programs, including the Federal TRIO, GEAR UP, Teacher Quality Partnerships, and Child Care Access Means Parents in School programs.
Division B: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
Department of Agriculture: $23.5 billion in total funding – $183 million increase from FY19 levels
- $6 billion in funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This provides full funding for the program based on its projected caseload for the year.
- $90 million for WIC’s Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program, which is the program’s full authorized amount. This marks the first time that the program has been funded at its authorized level and will enable staffing of peer counselors in every agency across the country.
- $526 million for the Summer Food Service Program, $35 million for the Sumer EBT Program, $30 million for School Kitchen Equipment Grants, and $5 million for school breakfast expansion grants. All of these programs ensure low-income students continue to receive nutritious meals both when in school and during breaks.
Division H: Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
Department of Housing and Urban Development: $49.1 billion – $4.9 increase from FY19 levels
- $290 million for the Lead Hazard Reduction Program, an increase of $11 million over FY19 levels.
- $175 million for Choice Neighborhoods, an increase of $25 million over FY19 levels.
- $2.78 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, an increase of $140 million over FY19 levels.
Policy Provisions Benefitting Kids and Some Unfinished Business
Along with funding the government, the spending package also contained a number of extensions for expiring tax and health provisions as well as other policies. While we are pleased that some of these provisions were able to pass as part of the package, some stopped short of their full potential to help children and some key provisions were left off entirely.
- Extends the Community Mental Health Services demonstration program
- Extends Medicaid funding for U.S. Territories for 2 years
- Delays Medicaid payment cuts to Disproportionate Care Hospital (DSH) for 5 months
- Extends Community Health Centers, the National Health Services Corps, and Teaching Health Centers
First Focus on Children supports the language in the bills that eliminates the pending Medicaid funding cliff to the territories caused by Medicaid block grants. However, the legislation limits Medicaid relief for Puerto Rico and the other territories to a mere two years and fails to adopt a more generous bipartisan proposal. This failure to protect American citizens in the territories highlights the vast inequalities, rationing of care, and financing problems caused by Medicaid block grants.
- Repeals the “Cadillac Tax,” an Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax on the most generous health insurance plans intended to limit the growth of private-sector health care costs, but was crafted in a way that would have incentivized employers to increase out-of-pocket expenses for family and dependent health coverage, particularly for families with children.
- Repeals the “Kiddie Tax,” a provision of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that created a tax on children’s unearned income. The provision had the unintended consequence of raising taxes on income such as survivor benefits received by the children of fallen military members and first responders.
One major shortcoming of the spending package is that it leaves out an expansion of refundable tax provisions, such as the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). These provisions aim at helping low-income children and families make ends meet and have a successful track record for lifting children and struggling families out of poverty. This package neglects to act on recent bipartisan proposals to expand these credits, which is a crucial missed opportunity for lifting millions of children out of poverty.
Other Policy Riders That Impact Kids:
- Increases the legal purchasing age of Tobacco from 18 to 21
- Temporarily reauthorizes Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for 5 months until May 5, 2020. This short-term extension provides an opportunity to realize the substantive reforms and additional funding that is needed to make TANF more effective at reducing child poverty. This includes clarifying that an explicit purpose of TANF is to reduce child poverty.
- Adopts the Family First Transition Act to help states successfully implement the Family First Prevention Services Act that aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment and in-home parenting skill training, along with other initiatives to improve the well-being of children already in foster care.
Unfortunately, the legislation does not include an agreement to extend the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) with a doubling of the funding for four years. The legislative package also does little to address grave and widespread concerns for the treatment of children at the border, and, in fact, continues funding for DHS’s outrageous “Migrant Protection Protocol” program that continues to cause harm to tens of thousands of vulnerable children and families every day. Furthermore, the funding package fails to restrict the administration’s practice of transferring funds to pay for the southern border wall or more immigrant detention, therefore putting at risk essential resources that may benefit our nation’s children.
In December of 2017, Congress passed and President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Proponents of the TCJA point to a provision in the law that doubled the child tax credit (CTC) from $1,000 per child under 17 to $2,000 as a big win for American families. Senior Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, made this claim on Sunday.
But does this provision really help hard-working American families?
First Focus Campaign for Children, along with leaders in both parties, has long advocated for an increase in the CTC. But the 2017 tax bill’s token CTC increase disproportionately benefited the children of wealthy families.
As Elaine Maag of the Tax Policy Center points out, "the TCJA didn’t change child benefits for most families with children by very much — and that it missed a huge opportunity to benefit all families."
Since the law was passed, the results are clear: wealthy families and corporations got a tax break, while 29 million kids were left out.
If lawmakers are serious about providing meaningful tax relief to families — as the 2017 Tax Bill promised — they must make the CTC fully refundable and ensure that any future tax bill benefits all kids, not just those in wealthy families.
Undercounting Kids in the 2020 Census Has Harmful and Long-lasting Consequences: A Primer on the Dangers of an Inaccurate Census
First Focus on Children’s 13th annual Children’s Budget publication offers a comprehensive analysis of how kids and families have been faring in the federal budget over the past five years. The data tells an alarming story. As the children’s share of the federal budget continues to shrink, our analysis found that the share of spending on children has declined to an all-time low of 7.21 percent. The share of spending on children would have dropped even further to just 6.45 percent under the Trump Administration’s proposed FY 2020 budget. In addition, spending on children is not keeping up with rising costs and growing needs. Between FY 2018 and FY 2019, total spending on children experienced an inflation-adjusted cut of nearly 1 percent, which shows that spending on children is not even keeping pace with inflation. On top of this grim picture, as of FY 2018, we now are spending a larger share of the federal budget on interest on the national debt than on children’s programs.
We now spend more servicing the national debt than we do on the children who will inherit it.
The Official Poverty Measure, released by the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this year, reports that 16.2 percent of children (11.9 million) were living in poverty in 2018. Child poverty remains stubbornly high, and we know that children are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty than adults. We should be dedicating more, not fewer, of our federal resources to the well-being of our nation’s children and lifting them out of poverty. Without significant funding increases, critical children’s programs and services will continue to lose ground, and children and families will continue to struggle. Congress must take concerted, proactive steps to prioritize kids in federal budget decisions to help ensure our nation’s children have the resources they need to thrive.
Congress is likely to keep using the Continuing Resolution (CR) mechanism to stave off an impending government shutdown but risks a showdown at the end of the year. In the meantime, lawmakers must negotiate the funding allocations for all 12 annual spending bills. This is no easy task under normal circumstances, and current disagreements and political turmoil only will complicate the process further. We know that CRs translate into inflation-adjusted cuts and inhibit the ability of agencies to plan ahead. The 2019 Children’s Budget book tracks nearly 200 child-focused discretionary programs that could suffer if negotiations collapse and a third CR is necessary — or worse — if the government shuts down again.
In addition to those 200 children’s programs at risk of funding cuts, Congress must address the urgent need for a full and direct appropriation for the 2020 census which also has significant implications for our children in every district, territory, and state. The goal of the census is to count every person, regardless of citizenship status, in all our communities once and only once, and to collect basic information about them in a secure, convenient and confidential manner. A fair, accurate and comprehensive census is imperative because the data determines Congressional reapportionment, guides state and local government representation, and impacts the equitable distribution of hundreds of billions of federal dollars. First conducted in 1790, the census collects data that informs decision‐makers at all levels of government and affects a wide range of policies, including education, health care, and infrastructure. The information also influences private sector investments contributing to communities’ economic development and employment opportunities for the next decade. Inadequate and/or delayed funding for the 2020 census carries substantial consequences for the next decade and beyond, and kids will disproportionately experience the harmful and long-lasting effects of another inaccurate count.
As the Census Bureau heads into peak operations for the successful implementation of the once-a-decade census, the agency urgently needs the certainty of full funding and control of those resources to manage unprecedented and emerging challenges. Given the importance and far-reaching impact of the decennial census, it is seriously troubling that we consistently fail to count children accurately. Children, especially children of color, have the highest net undercount of any age group. Alarmingly, this problem continues to grow. The net undercount for young children has been increasing since 1980, with the census missing more than two million young children in 2010. At the same time, we have witnessed continued improvements for the counting of adults.
With child poverty remaining a persistent problem and more than a million children experiencing homelessness each year, many children live in conditions that make it more likely the census will miss them. In particular, the census is especially likely to miss children under the age of five if they live in complex or multi-family homes, live temporarily with others, live with grandparents, are poor, move frequently, are children of color, or are linguistically isolated. This historic and escalating undercount of children needs to be corrected because children deserve fair government representation and access to vital resources. We must do better in 2020 to overcome this long-term disparity facing our nation’s youngest.
There also is mounting concern that the 2020 census will miss many immigrant families and their children. Distrust of some federal agencies continues to swell in many communities, stemming largely from the current Administration’s aggressive and cruel immigration enforcement tactics and policies. One policy proposal, in particular, that has jeopardized the accurate count of children in immigrant families is the administration’s push to include a citizenship question on the census questionnaire. Although the Supreme Court formally struck down this proposal in June, forcing the administration to remove it from the 2020 questionnaire, the damage is already done with respect to the chilling effect stemming from the proposal. Coupled with this chilling effect, other hostile policies and actions toward immigrants will likely dramatically depress participation of immigrant and mixed-status families who fear negative repercussions from revealing their citizenship status.
For the first time, the 2020 census will be conducted online. While phone and paper responses remain an option, online delivery presents new challenges for the Census Bureau, including unreliable broadband service and infrastructure in some communities, lack of internet access and technological literacy in some households, cybersecurity threats, and budget shortfalls that prevented the government from testing systems and operations thoroughly. On a brighter note, many parents of young children have smartphone access to the internet even when they do not have access at home. There is room to hope that the convenience of filling out the form on a smartphone will help improve the count of young children.
In consideration of recent trends in funding for children and the undercount of children in past surveys, inadequate federal funding and a delay in the availability of much-needed resources for the Census Bureau risk doing further damage. Since Congress did not reach a budget caps deal until late in the fiscal year, limited time existed for appropriators to draft and pass spending bills for FY 2020. At the time of this writing, the House Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill (CJS), which funds the Census Bureau, has passed out of the full chamber with $7.5 billion provided for the census for FY 2020, and the Senate bill includes $6.7 billion for the census. In anticipation of a second CR, the 2020 census must receive full and direct funding for the entirety of FY 2020. The Census Bureau conducts the census under statutory and constitutional deadlines for reporting results so the timing of this funding is critical. As in the past, Congress should provide for full and direct funding of the census under any new CR, and those funds should be in addition to the $1.02 billion in unspent funds for the 2020 Census carried over from FY 2019.
Beyond the immediate funding concerns, there remains a need for adequate funding in FY 2021. The Census Bureau relies on those future resources to manage the critical follow-up work that every census requires, including completion of data files for Congressional allocations and state redistricting. Insufficient funding now and in FY 2021 jeopardizes the success of the 2020 census, resulting in inaccurate and incomplete data that would impact public and private investment decisions and political representation for a decade to come.
On a positive note, the Census Bureau has established a Task Force on the Undercount of Young Children and is working to better target low‐response areas of the country and hard‐to‐reach populations, including young children. To help promote awareness of the census, encourage participation around the country, and improve the count of our kids, the Bureau is planning to launch a national media campaign in January 2020 and continues to pursue strategic outreach activities. The Bureau has developed materials to elevate the importance of counting all children, including infants, and aims to engage and motivate people to self-respond and include young children by associating participation in the census with benefits for one’s local community. The goal of these outreach strategies is to inform the public that high‐quality data better informs political representation and policy decisions, helps assess how our nation’s children and communities are changing and faring and ensures government resources reach those who need them most.
A successful 2020 decennial census requires full-year funding directly to the bureau to implement operational improvement plans that would help to ensure robust participation and maintain the value of the data as a foundation for our democracy, our economy and our political future. We must get it right.
On June 18th, 2019, First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter to the Leadership of the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means and in support of changes to the tax code that lift children out poverty.
As you continue to work through a range of tax legislation addressing retirement security, the redesign of the Internal Revenue Service, an extension of temporary tax credits, and other important updates to the tax code, I write on behalf of First Focus Campaign for Children to urge you to adopt critical changes to our tax code that would reduce child poverty significantly in the near-term. As a bipartisan children’s advocacy group dedicated to ensuring that our children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions, child poverty reduction remains a chief priority for our organization. Unfortunately, child poverty remains stubbornly high in the United States, and despite economic growth and low unemployment rates, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 17.5 percent, nearly 13 million children in the U.S., lived in poverty in 2017.
This past February, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released a landmark study, A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty, confirming that child poverty is a solvable problem when there is the political will to address it. Additionally, First Focus Campaign for Children has provided an analysis distilling the nearly 600-page study to highlight the findings and policy options we find most compelling, provide commentary on how its policy and program options line up with current legislative efforts, and add contextual factors to consider for effective implementation of these policy options. Written by a committee of the nation’s leading experts on child poverty, this study puts forward an evidence-based policy agenda that, if prioritized and implemented by our nation’s lawmakers, would achieve the goal of cutting our child poverty rate in half within a decade. Modifications to the tax code are paramount to achieving that goal.
First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter to Congress in support of the Refund to Rainy Day Savings Act.
The Refund to Rainy Day Savings Act would take advantage of the unique moment in the year when a significant number of Americans receive a tax refund. S.3220 would allow tax filers to defer 20% of their tax refund in a “Rainy Day Fund” set up by the Secretary of Treasury where it would accumulate interest before being deposited directly into the filer’s direct deposit account six months later. The bill also would modernize the Assets for Independence (AFI) grant program and establish innovative pilot projects to give greater flexibility to our communities to assess and develop matched deferred tax refunds for lower-income filers, thereby creating a stronger incentive for using one’s tax credit to plan ahead and meet emergency or unanticipated expenses or reductions in household income. In addition, the bill authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the Director of Community Services, to establish a matched savings account pilot program linked to the Refund to Rainy Day Savings Program to further encourage savings and help address our communities’ needs for economic independence.
“The only simple thing about this tax bill is that the bulk of its benefits flow to wealthy families and corporations at the expense of working families and children. Corporations will enjoy a steep decrease in their tax rate, which will plummet from 35 percent to 21 percent, permanently.
In 2027, nearly 83% of the tax breaks are projected to go to the top 1% of earners. On the other hand, hard-working families with children, especially those in poverty, will, at best, see modest—but temporary—tax breaks, with the poorest left out entirely. Sadly, in the name of a partisan victory and so-called simplification of our tax code, the President and his Congressional Majority have ushered through a tax overhaul in record time with no regard for legislative process or bipartisanship. The result heavily and shamefully favors the wealthiest.
At the same time that extraordinary measures were used to rush a deficit-ballooning tax bill to the President, an extremely successful and bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired. Ironically, this upside-down prioritization stems from claims that the $8 billion CHIP cost requires funding offsets. This explanation for inaction on CHIP is appalling given that the tax bill will cost more than 100 times that over the next five years.
In addition, this unfair, lopsided and insulting tax bill gambles with our children’s future by relying on unfounded expectations for economic growth. Congress’ own independent analysts estimate that this tax bill will increase the deficit by $1.45 trillion. Our young people can expect to shoulder this debt burden, experience shrinking social services and ultimately pay for the tax cuts with higher taxes.
Already, the tax bill’s supporters have indicated they will dismantle the social safety net to compensate for this explosion in the deficit. This endangers critical programs that serve families and children, such as Medicaid, temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), child nutrition programs, and housing assistance. Families cannot afford to lose these crucial supports, which are already receiving a declining share of the federal budget. As of 2017, less than 8 percent of total federal spending goes to children.
Supporters of the tax bill have chosen to reward corporations and the wealthiest over children. The First Focus Campaign for Children finds this behavior intolerable and unconscionable and will continue to fight to ensure these policymakers no longer view our children as an afterthought.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)--Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children, issued the following statement after House and Senate passage of bills to radically reform the tax code:
“In the dead of night on Saturday, the Senate voted 51-49 in support of a tax bill that will either harm or provide only modest relief to all but the wealthiest families with children.
Among the harmful impacts on children, the House and Senate bills increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion — a debt that the nation will be passing on to the next generation to pay off well into the future.
This tax bill punishes working families by promising eventual tax increases. According to Congress’ own analysis, by 2027, households making less than $75,000 will pay higher taxes. What’s worse, in the preceding years, families with children in the lowest income quintiles will see meager (if any) tax relief compared to the thousands of dollars going to the wealthy.
As Ron Brownstein said in The Atlantic, “The House and Senate measures shower enormous benefits on households at the top of the economic ladder, a group that by all indications is older and whiter than the population overall. Then it hands the bill for those benefits largely to younger generations, who will pay through more federal debt; less spending on programs that could benefit them; and, eventually, higher taxes.”
As an example, the tax bill will trigger budget cuts to numerous programs of importance to children, including education, child nutrition, and child welfare. While assurances were made by Senate leadership that they would protect Medicare from such cuts, no such commitments were made to protect children or the programs that serve them.
Furthermore, the additional debt will put further pressure on all children’s programs, including Medicaid, CHIP, and SNAP. Recent analysis by First Focus illustrates that the share of federal spending dedicated to children has been on a steady decline and now represents less than 8 percent of all federal spending.
Meanwhile, the Senate tax bill targets children for cuts in a number of ways, such as the elimination of the Personal Exemption (which harms larger families), repeal of the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction (which harms state and local funding for public and higher education, etc.), reduction of the Orphan Drug Tax Credit (which will disproportionately have a negative impact on kids), and elimination of the Child Tax Credit for an estimated 1 million immigrant children through the imposition of a new Social Security number requirement.
Compounding these negative consequences, the Senate rejected two amendments that would have improved the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and helped millions of low-income children and families by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), failing with votes of 48-52 and 29-71, respectively. Though 68 senators showed the will to improve the tax bill’s impact on children by voting for one or both Child Tax Credit amendments, partisan voting precluded the passage of either amendment. Children, sadly, were once again losers in the halls of Congress.
Two months ago, this Congress allowed funding for health coverage of 9 million children covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire, leaving critical healthcare for vulnerable children hanging in limbo. Congress has also failed to fund the government and provide much-needed sequestration relief to programs that serve children. The contrast between that inaction and this bill’s $ 1.5 trillion giveaway to corporations and older wealthy Americans, with its negative impact on children, highlights the continued low priority that Congress has for our nation’s children.”
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions.