coronavirus stimulus

The $3,000-Per-Child Benefit Is Gaining Momentum

A food distribution program in New York in August. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Late last week, Senator Mitt Romney — who said he was “not concerned about the very poor” on his way to securing the Republican nomination in 2012 — proposed that American children up to the age of 6 receive $4,200 per year, and that children 6 to 17 receive $3,000 per year.

The effort will officially become a bipartisan one on Monday, as the Washington Post reports that senior Democrats are now ready to reveal a similar $3,000-per-child package, which has been in the works as part of the larger $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that President Biden hopes to pass in the coming weeks:

Under the proposal, the Internal Revenue Service would provide $3,600 over the course of the year per child under the age of 6, as well as $3,000 per child of ages 6 to 17. The size of the benefit would diminish for Americans earning more than $75,000 per year, as well as for couples jointly earning more than $150,000 per year. The payments would be sent monthly beginning in July, a delay intended to give the IRS time to prepare for the massive new initiative.

While Romney’s plan would be balanced by cutting the (already-gutted) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, it would also provide cash benefits year-over-year, meaning that a child born after its hypothetical passage would receive $62,600 from the government by the time they turned 18. “If Congress were given a choice between Biden’s single-year child tax credit (with no cuts to other welfare programs), and Romney’s permanent child allowance (with its specified cuts to other welfare programs), the latter would leave the nation better off,” writes New York’s Eric Levitz. Though the Democratic proposal put forward by House Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal would only be in place for one year, Democratic lawmakers and the White House have said they would attempt to make it permanent after its initial passage.

The policies now on the table will likely influence each other, as Democrats and the de facto architect of modern health-care reform hash out the details in the coming weeks. Critically, interest on both sides of the aisle — or at least one member interested amid the GOP’s seating plan — will also keep up momentum for the measure in a nation with one of the highest rates of child poverty in the developed world. Even if the benefit is a one-off, Columbia University researchers determined that it would reduce the number of children in poverty by as much as 54 percent, which equates to around 5 million children — including 1 million Black children.

Unfortunately for the White House, just because Romney is in agreement regarding direct payments for the nation’s youth — a stark departure from his notorious “47 percent” comment in 2012 — does not mean he is onboard with Biden’s larger $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal. “The total is pretty shocking,” he said in January, of a proposal that would be $300 billion less than the CARES Act.

The $3,000-Per-Child Benefit Is Gaining Momentum