Sen. Manchin doesn’t want the child tax credit to go on in its current form — if it extends at all.
A work requirement would ensure payments are “accountable,” Manchin told West Virginia’s MetroNews.
And harsher salary thresholds would make sure the aid reaches families that “really need it,” he said.
The child tax credit will have to look dramatically different for Sen. Joe Manchin to support an extension.
The West Virginia senator drove a stake through Democrats’ spending hopes on Sunday, announcing on Fox News he won’t vote for the Build Back Better plan as it currently stands. Part of the proposal included an extension of the child tax credit, which has doled out monthly payments as large as $300 to roughly 36 million households since it began in July.
The last checks for the program went out on December 15, and it was up for renewal in President Biden’s BBB plan. Manchin publicly criticized BBB’s price tag for months, arguing it posed too great a risk with inflation already running at historic highs. Yet a Monday interview with West Virginia’s MetroNews revealed more reasons for Manchin’s opposition and, specifically, why he wouldn’t back a re-up of the child tax credit.
The centrist senator began by repeating his call for a work requirement, arguing such a test is necessary for the payments to be “accountable.” Other Senate Democrats had rebuked the work requirement in recent months, with many arguing that raising a child is work in itself. The Monday interview signals that, unless such a stipulation is added, Manchin will allow the credit to expire in late December.
Manchin also raised issue with the credit’s income thresholds. There’s no test to ensure the credit reaches the families who need it most, and that’s led the program to be more expensive than necessary, the senator told MetroNews host Hoppy Kercheval.
“Do you believe people making $200,000 and $400,000 should still get the child tax credit the same as someone making $50,000, $60,000, or $70,000 that really needs it?” Manchin said. The $200,000 and $400,000 levels reference the thresholds at which the child tax credit phases out faster for individual or joint tax filers. Households making more than those levels each year already aren’t able to receive the full credit.
A separate report published earlier Monday morning revealed some of the qualms Manchin had privately raised with the child tax credit. Manchin told Democratic colleagues in recent months he was concerned parents would waste the payments on drugs, The Huffington Post reported, citing sources familiar with the senator’s comments.
Though Manchin didn’t address such concerns in the MetroNews interview, he noted that the program should be more targeted. Congress should “make sure the money follows a child” so it can go to another caretaker if the biological parents aren’t raising the child, the senator said.
There are “so many things we can fix that [Democrats] won’t even talk about,” Manchin said, adding “we’ve been way far apart philosophically.”
The fallout from an expired child tax credit would likely be harsh. The program’s first payments alone led the child poverty rate to drop to 11.9% from 15.8% through June, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy. Almost 10 million children risk falling back into poverty if the credit isn’t renewed, researchers at the progressive Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said earlier in December.
The credit’s expiration would also come months before the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates, leaving families with higher borrowing costs while direct aid dries up.
Other Democrats aren’t giving up yet on passing BBB and extending the credit. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to “keep fighting” for the spending plan on Monday, noting in a letter to colleagues that Manchin’s opposition wouldn’t deter the party “from continuing to find a way forward.”
How the party moves forward, however, is unclear. Manchin’s remarks all but guarantee that, if the child tax credit is extended at all, it won’t be nearly as wide-reaching as it’s been this year.
Read the original article on Business Insider