Senator Mitt Romney of Utah's new proposal, the Family Security Act, is a fiscally smart way to help families by giving them monthly payments just like seniors receive on Social Security.
The bill would give parents $350 a month for every child younger than 5, and $250 for every child between the ages of 6 and 17. There would be a maximum monthly cap of $1,250 a month per family. Simply put: if the bill were to pass, the parents of a child born next year would receive $62,000 over 18 years.
The act also gives a nod to the pro-life folks by starting cash payments while the child is in utero.
The allowance phases out starting with single parents whose incomes exceed $200,000 and joint filers with incomes above $400,000.
Handing out cash to parents is a sure-fire way to help children escape poverty, but why would a fiscal conservative like Romney back such an idea? It's nearly budget-neutral.
The Family Security Act would eliminate Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) which gives parents a tax credit of $3,000 for the first child.
The CDCTC misses the boat when it comes to helping the most vulnerable parents because roughly 22% of those eligible for the credit don't receive it. Plus, you have to have earned income to receive the tax credit and have paid for child care.
The bill would also eliminate the Head of Household tax-filing status which gives bigger breaks to high earners.
Most importantly, the Family Security Act would provide cash to families every month instead of in a lump sum at tax time. It also allows parents to spend the money as they choose, instead of tying the benefits to childcare costs.
There are 11 million children in the United States who live in poverty. Children make up nearly one-third of all impoverished people. This bill would go a long way towards helping low-income families struggling to make ends meet. It would also be a boon to families everywhere and help the economy by giving millions of people more money to spread around.
Those who oppose the government giving money seem to forget the fact that the distribution isn't a single act. When low-income people receive money, they spend it, benefitting local businesses, too.
"The plan has some very considerable virtues, starting with the one that Romney highlights: It would substantially reduce poverty and drastically reduce extreme poverty, especially among children," Ramesh Ponnuru, Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute says.
"It would simplify government programs and probably make them easier to administer…It would also make it easier for people to start and expand their families," Ponnuru, continues.
New York Times Opinion Columnist Ross Douthat thinks the proposal is a win for liberals and conservatives.
"It would significantly reduce child poverty, a core left-wing ambition," Douthat writes. "At the same time, it reduces the current system's penalties for marriage and its tacit bias against stay-at-home parents, both social-conservative goals, and raises the current subsidy for middle-class families, usually a Republican-leaning constituency."
"Finally, it's both deficit neutral and softly pro-life, with a benefit that starts while the child is still in utero. So with all this winning, who could be against it?" Douthat continues.
The proposal comes at a time when Americans are more amenable to big government. A CNBC poll found that 62% of Americans approve of the way Joe Biden is handling the economy, beating the first presidential ratings of Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump.
Respondents praised him for his proposed $1.9 trillion relief bill, hiking the minimum wage, expanding health coverage, and battling inequality.
The proposal is a little off-brand for Romney who famously chastised Americans for wanting "free stuff" during the 2012 presidential election. But Romney has gone through a bit of a political makeover over the past few years, positioning himself as a more compassionate conservative in the angst-ridden Trump years.
The Republican party was once known for promoting "family values." It's nice to see someone from the party stepping up and actually valuing families. Let's hope the trend continues.
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