A crucial debate has taken center stage in American politics: who, exactly, is the party of the working class?
The Democratic Party’s efforts to pose as defenders of working people have been ill-exposed by its two years in total power in Washington. The Democrats were measured and deemed insufficient by working people across the country because of one simple fact: their policy choices did not back up their rhetoric for financially stressed working-class families at their kitchen tables. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says their legislative victories show Democrats are “sitting with them at that kitchen table,” but the economy says otherwise.
A prime example of their policy not matching these words is the popular monthly version of the Child Tax Credit. It’s one of the few successful bipartisan policies to come out of Washington, which makes it all the more damning that Democrats voted it down.
The child tax credit, expanded and made monthly by the U.S. bailout, could have been a centerpiece of the Democratic midterm campaign message, especially when it comes to lifting people out of poverty. For example, it reduced child poverty by a whopping 45%. Low-income workers in dire financial straits had received enough of their taxes to avoid some of the horrible everyday consequences they faced in this economy, like taking out payday loans and selling blood plasma to get by, according to a study. go out.
Now the monthly payments are over, with Democrats holding a majority in Congress but unable to rally politics to respond to their own rhetoric.
And the consequences of their inaction go beyond the typical hypocrisy of liberal politicians. Columbia University said 3.7 million children were falling back or deeper into poverty without the monthly child tax credit. Add to that an inflation rate of 8.5% last month, which hit a multi-decade high, and it’s almost certain that the freedom some families have experienced from predatory lending hasn’t was only temporary.
How can the Democrats claim to be the workers’ party if their fundamental policy to support them has expired of their own accord? Many will blame their internal negotiations on the “Build Back Better” legislation. Good luck with that explanation. History shows that voters don’t care much about apologies. Here’s the reality: Overly dogmatic Democrats refused to compromise on a version of the policy that could have kept most of the program intact. (My fellow Republicans, on the cusp of a majority, should take note.)
Prices are skyrocketing and employment among those receiving monthly child tax credit payments fell by 4.1% after the monthly credit expired. Families make horrible compromises every day because Democrats couldn’t make a good one. It’s no wonder a new Morning Consult poll now shows child tax credit recipients have swung 12 points in favor of Republicans since Democrats scrapped the monthly child tax credit.
The Democratic Party’s failure on the child tax credit gives Republicans an opportunity to show their strength as a true party representing working people’s interests. It’s a chance for the GOP to take over a policy of their own design.
As I wrote, the child tax credit is a policy that was proposed by my former boss, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in his Contract with America. To date, his vision of working families has succeeded in putting support directly into the hands of the people without increasing the size of government for more than two decades.
More recently, it was reformed in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act under the Trump administration and temporarily expanded in the US bailout last year under President Joe Biden.
Democrats seemed to recognize the success of the child tax credit and take ownership of it. Their failure exposes this decision as an opportunity and not as a commitment. Now, as Republicans look ahead to a successful midterm election season, they should show people they can reclaim this policy and give it a modern makeover to help families navigate tough economic times. provoked by the White House Biden and the Democratic Congress.
The Biden administration’s response to the inflation it has caused is more and more spending — like pouring gasoline on a fire. Republicans have long argued that the best way to improve the economy starts with taking money out of Washington and returning it to the people. The child tax credit has been enhanced and made partially refundable under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. We can revert to this generous version of the policy while converting it to a monthly credit, which beneficiaries expressed a preference for in a survey. This is a deficit-neutral approach that can meet families where they are and achieve the goal of reclaiming this historic policy for Republicans.
Responsible, connected to the lives of working families and ready for leadership, that’s how Republicans should send their messages this midterm election cycle. The Child Tax Credit is a common-sense, transparent policy priority that Republicans themselves championed and led 25 years ago. Committing to responsibly improving the Child Tax Credit as a tax relief solution for families is a big step in that direction. As the poll shows, voters will reward Republicans who take a reasonable stance on the child tax credit and work to restore it for working-class families.
Mike Shields is the founder of Convergence Media and was previously the Republican National Committee’s chief of staff.