The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is now being paid out every month to 88% of children in America and is being viewed as a “life-changing” measure by many parents. The CTC was first proposed by George H. W. Bush in 1988 when he suggested a tax credit of $1,000 per child to help low-income families pay for childcare. The CTC was finally passed into law in 1997 as part of the Republican Contract with America and was later doubled twice by George W. Bush and Donald Trump. In 2021, it was expanded again by a Democrat in the White House, providing $3,000 for kids aged 6-17 and $3,600 for kids under 6 on a 100% refundable basis. It is estimated that child poverty will fall by up to 40% as a result of the expansion.
It was a truly pro-family plan and one that Republicans began to consider as reflecting their support of family values. Unfortunately, it was ahead of its time. In fact, Bush’s support went back even earlier. He had run for Senator back in 1970 in support of Nixon’s Family Assistance Plan which also would have provided cash per kid to American families.
In 1989, Democrats considered taking the new CTC idea and running with it as their own, but arguing over whether the better approach was cash for parents to make their own decisions, or a services approach of funding childcare providers, resulted in choosing neither.
As described in the book “Tyranny of Kindness” by Theresa Funiciello, “many daycare groups opposed [the CTC] – they wanted all of whatever money was going to be passed around for child care to go to themselves.” No compromise was possible, and the bitter conflict among Democrats resulted in parents being left with neither a cash nor services approach to help them.
In 1991, the National Commission on Children then restarted the CTC debate after it recommended that a universal cash program for children of $1,000 per kid was key to reducing child poverty in America.
In 1992, Bush again proposed getting cash to Americans, this time during his campaign for president against Bill Clinton, in the form of a one-time stimulus check. Clinton, on the other hand, proposed an economic stimulus plan by way of federal spending on government contracts.
It was a trickle-up versus top-down approach to economic stimulus, where the Republican position was getting cash directly into the hands of the American people as opposed to getting cash directly into the hands of government contractors. Again, Bush was still ahead of his time, and stimulus checks would not be passed until the baton was passed to his son, who did finally do it – twice. Once in 2001, and again in 2008.
In 1994, support for a CTC had grown among Republicans to the point it was included as part of Newt Gingrich’s proposed Contract with America. “We believe that parents ought to have the first claim on money to take care of their children rather than bureaucrats,” Gingrich would say as Speaker of the House in 1995.
In 1997, the CTC’s time had finally come. As part of the Republican Contract with America, it was passed into law within the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. Starting at $400 per kid in 1998, it grew to $500 per kid in 1999 and was then doubled by President George W. Bush to $1,000 per kid as a one-time stimulus, and also even allowed parents who didn’t owe any income taxes to receive the checks. The popularity of the $1,000 amount, although only meant to be one-time, led to an extension, and then permanence. Starting in 2004, it was officially and permanently a $1,000 CTC, and there it stayed with some minor adjustments, until Trump.
In 2017, as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the CTC was doubled again by a Republican president, this time by Donald Trump. Besides making the new amount $2,000, the refundable portion was lifted to $1,400, and many more American families were included by expanding the CTC beyond single parents earning $75,000 and couples earning $100,000 to single parents earning $200,000 and couples earning $400,000. By making it more refundable, and making it more universal, Trump greatly improved the CTC.
In 2021, the CTC was expanded again — this time by a Democrat in the White House — but only for one year. The new full amount of $3,000 for kids ages 6-17 and $3,600 for kids under 6 is now 100% refundable and available monthly for the first time. It’s estimated that child poverty will drop by up to 40% as parents who were already getting the CTC get more of it, and parents who didn’t previously get the CTC finally qualify. It’s also already very popular — with 73% of Republican families supporting the newly expanded CTC.
Pro-life conservatives appreciate the fact that the CTC would do more to reduce abortions in America than any other policy. Over 70% of women seeking abortions blame financial reasons, and about a quarter say they’re the primary reason for getting an abortion. When Italy began its baby bonus, abortions fell more than births rose. Religious groups like CatholicVote have already voiced support for various Child Tax Credit proposals, as do taxpayer advocate organizations like the National Taxpayers Union.
When couched in the context of the cost of child poverty, which reaches over $1 trillion per year, spending $100 billion a year to annually spend $400 billion less on poverty is also just a pretty sweet deal.
It trusts parents as free individuals to make their own decisions with their own money. It avoids a big government services-based approach. It supports and enables the important work of care in the home and even homeschooling. It conserves economic resources by reducing crime, improving health, and increasing the lifelong incomes of kids as adults. It grows the economy by supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, and it rewards employment by boosting all employed parents instead of facing parents with the usual choice of benefits or employment as most welfare programs do.
A Child Tax Credit that continues past its planned expiration date will be a policy of personal freedom that further gets the government out of deciding which services are approved and available to people, and will instead better enable individuals to decide for themselves how to best meet their own unique needs and the needs of their families.
The Child Tax Credit (CTC) has become a “life-changing” measure for many parents, with the expansion of the program estimated to reduce child poverty by up to 40%. The CTC was initially proposed by George H. W. Bush in 1988 and finally passed into law in 1997 as part of the Republican Contract with America. The CTC was doubled twice by George W. Bush and Donald Trump, and in 2021, it was expanded again by a Democrat in the White House. The CTC is seen as a pro-family plan that would help reduce abortions in America and has received support from various religious groups and taxpayer advocate organizations. Spending $100 billion a year to annually spend $400 billion less on poverty is a worthwhile investment.
What is the Child Tax Credit (CTC)?
The CTC is a tax credit of up to $3,600 per child that is being paid out monthly to 88% of American children to help low-income families pay for childcare.
Who proposed the CTC?
The CTC was first proposed by George H. W. Bush in 1988 as a tax credit of $1,000 per child to help low-income families pay for childcare.
When was the CTC passed into law?
The CTC was passed into law in 1997 as part of the Republican Contract with America.
How many times has the CTC been doubled?
The CTC has been doubled twice, once by George W. Bush and once by Donald Trump.
How much is the CTC for kids aged 6-17 and kids under 6?
The CTC provides $3,000 for kids aged 6-17 and $3,600 for kids under 6 on a 100% refundable basis.
How much will child poverty fall as a result of the CTC expansion?
It is estimated that child poverty will fall by up to 40% as a result of the CTC expansion.
Why did Democrats not pass a CTC in 1989?
Democrats argued over whether the better approach was cash for parents or funding for childcare providers, resulting in neither being chosen.
What is the Republican view of the CTC?
Republicans consider the CTC as reflecting their support of family values.
How did Donald Trump improve the CTC?
Donald Trump doubled the CTC, made it more refundable, and expanded it to include more American families.
Why do pro-life conservatives support the CTC?
The CTC would do more to reduce abortions in America than any other policy, according to pro-life conservatives.