This editorial was written by the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
They can be sticky, loud, and misbehaved. But that doesn’t make children, in and of themselves, any less good. It just makes them children – the lovable, needy, frustrating, chaotic and absolutely irreplaceable building blocks of society and of human civilization itself.
But children are also expensive. It’s not just about money, although money is certainly part of it. Even if you buy discounted groceries, second-hand clothes and second-hand books, etc., it adds up. Health care. Education. And the car seats, oh, the car seats.
Children are also costly in time, energy and focus. It can be difficult for parents to find time for their own passions and to maintain their shared relationship, which is the beating heart of the home. And even the nicest, docile kids take up a lot of their parents’ worry and attention – and sometimes just make them just jerk.
It goes without saying that children’s joy – their own naive glee and what they inspire in others – far outweighs all of these costs. But more importantly from a public policy perspective, they are absolutely essential to the sustainability of our society, our economy and our culture.
This is why families needed and deserved the federal child tax credit as the COVID-19 crisis hit its peak, and also why the program should be made permanent.
As of July, families receive $ 300 per month for each child up to 5 years old and $ 250 for children 6 to 17 years old. Credit is available to all families, regardless of employment, but begins to disappear at certain high income levels. The current Build Back Better bill would extend this arrangement until 2022; a separate bill introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) would make it permanent.
The monthly distribution of credit has turned it into a kind of family allowance which has transformed the monthly budgets of many families. While economists are deeply divided over the scale of the impact, it is clear that there are fewer families in dire straits than at the same time last year. But even for middle-class families, credit has given some leeway – a respite from creeping precariousness.
While this type of monthly family payment is new to the United States, it’s not really new to the world.
According to UNICEF, 108 countries pay their families a monthly allowance to help them raise their children. And some more aggressive birth rate policies, like Hungary’s, have shown modest success in reversing long-term declines in birth rates.
Finally, while there is evidence that some parents drop out of the workforce because of the windfall, if they use their freedom to spend more time with their children, this is a positive effect of the policy, not a negative effect. Not all work of social value is remunerated by the market.
We are constantly investing in the future in the form of science, technology, environment, etc. In the child tax credit, we are investing in the people who will make all those other investments worth it.
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