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    Biden $1.8 Trillion Plan: Child Care, Student Aid and More

    The proposed American Families Plan would expand access to education and child care. It would be financed partly through higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Wednesday detailed a $1.8 trillion collection of spending increases and tax cuts that seeks to expand access to education, reduce the cost of child care and support women in the work force, financed by additional taxes on high earners.The American Families Plan, as the White House calls it, follows the $2.3 trillion infrastructure package President Biden introduced last month, bringing his two-part package of economic proposals to just over $4 trillion. He will present the details to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening.The proposal includes $1 trillion in new spending and $800 billion in tax credits, much of which is aimed at expanding access to education and child care. The package includes financing for universal prekindergarten, a federal paid leave program, efforts to make child care more affordable, free community college for all, aid for students at colleges that historically serve nonwhite communities, expanded subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and an extension of new federal efforts to fight poverty.Administration officials cast the plan as investing in an inclusive economy that would help millions of Americans gain the skills and the work flexibility they need to build middle-class lifestyles. They cited research on the benefits of government spending to help young children learn. In a 15-page briefing document, they said the package would help close racial and gender opportunity gaps across the economy.Many of the provisions, like tax credits to help families afford child care and a landmark expansion of a tax credit meant to fight child poverty, build on measures in the $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan Mr. Biden signed into law last month. The package would make many of those temporary measures permanent.But the plan also includes a maze of complicated formulas for who would benefit from certain provisions — and how much of the tab state governments would need to pick up.The package could face even more challenges than the American Jobs Plan, Mr. Biden’s physical infrastructure proposal, did in Congress. The president has said repeatedly that he hopes to move his agenda with bipartisan support. But his administration remains far from reaching a consensus with Republican negotiators in the Senate.Republicans have expressed much less interest in additional spending for education, child care and paid leave than they have for building roads and bridges. They have also chafed at the tax increases Mr. Biden has proposed, including the ones that will help pay for his latest package.The president is proposing an increase in the marginal income tax rate for the top 1 percent of American income earners, to 39.6 percent from 37 percent. He would increase capital gains and dividend tax rates for those who earn more than $1 million a year. And he would eliminate a provision in the tax code that reduces capital gains on some inherited assets, like vacation homes, that largely benefits the wealthy.Mr. Biden would also invest $80 billion in personnel and technology enhancements for the I.R.S., in hopes of netting $700 billion in additional revenues from high earners, wealthy individuals and corporations that evade taxes.Republicans and conservative activists have criticized all those measures. Administration officials told reporters that the president would be open to financing the spending and tax credits in his plan through alternative means, essentially challenging Republicans to name their own offsets, as Mr. Biden did with his physical infrastructure proposal.Still, many of the details in his new proposal poll well with voters across the political spectrum. Much of the package could win the support of the full Democratic caucus in Congress, which would need to band together to pass all or part of the plan through the fast-track process known as budget reconciliation, which bypasses a Senate filibuster.Expanded access to government-subsidized preschool and community college may have broad appeal. Workers with only high school degrees are often stuck in low-wage jobs, and two-thirds of mothers with young children are employed, and thus need reliable child care. The high cost of quality day care and pre-K puts these services out of reach for many families, who may rely on informal networks of relatives and neighbors who are untrained in early education.Expanding access to pre-K has been particularly popular over the past decade in states and cities, including some with Republican governors. A large body of research shows that achievement gaps between poor and middle-class children emerge in the earliest years of childhood and are present on the first day of kindergarten. Administration officials contend that free, quality early childhood education can both help cash-strapped parents and build students’ skills in ways that will help them become more productive workers.Still, there are major disagreements about how generous any expansion of pre-K should be. President Barack Obama’s administration generally favored a centrist approach in which new seats were geared toward lower-income families.Mr. Biden’s plan differs in that it calls for universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, including those from affluent families. That is the same approach pioneered in recent years by city programs in New York and Washington, which expanded quickly to serve a diverse swath of families, but not without some evidence that they replicated the segregation and inequities of the broader K-12 education system.Bruce Fuller, a professor of education at the University of California, Berkeley, has been a critic of the universal approach, instead favoring more targeted programs. He questioned whether states would do their part to fund the expansion and said the goal of paying all early childhood workers $15 per hour was too modest to broadly improve the quality and stability of the work force.“How governors weigh these competing priorities, ethically and politically, remains an open question,” he said.The proposed investment from Washington comes at a precarious time. Preschool enrollment declined by nearly 25 percent over the past year, largely because of the coronavirus pandemic. As of December, about half of 4-year-olds and 40 percent of 3-year-olds attended pre-K, including in remote programs. And only 13 percent of children in poverty were receiving an in-person preschool education in December, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.Unlike the preschool proposal, the child care plan is not universal. It would offer subsidies to families earning up to 1.5 times their state’s median income, which could be in the low six figures in some locations. It would also continue tax credits approved in the pandemic relief bill this year that offer benefits to people earning up to $400,000 a year.As with Mr. Biden’s previous policy proposals, the American Families Plan offers something to many traditional Democratic Party constituencies. The administration is closely tied to teachers’ unions, and while many early childhood educators are not unionized, the proposal also calls for investments in K-12 teacher education, training and pay, which are all union priorities. One goal is to bring more teachers of color into a public education system where a majority of students are nonwhite.The expansion of free community college would apply to all students, regardless of income. It would require states to contribute to meet the goal of universal access, senior administration officials said on Tuesday. Mr. Biden would also expand Pell grants for low-income students and subsidize two years of tuition at historically Black colleges and universities, as well as at institutions that serve members of Native American tribes and other minority groups.Mr. Fuller said he expected the community college proposal to effectively target spending to the neediest students. About one-third of all undergraduates attend public two-year colleges, which serve a disproportionate number of students from low-income families.The paid leave program will phase in over time. The administration’s fact sheet says it will guarantee 12 weeks of paid “parental, family and personal illness/safe leave” by its 10th year in existence. Workers on leave will earn up to $4,000 a month, with as little as two-thirds or as much as 80 percent of their incomes replaced, depending on how much they earn.Other provisions include late concessions to key Democratic constituencies. Administration officials had removed the health care credits last week but added them back under pressure from Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and others. They bucked pressure from House and Senate Democrats to make permanent an expanded child tax credit created by the pandemic relief bill, extending it through 2025. But the plan would make permanent one aspect of the expanded credit, which allows parents with little or no income to reap its benefits regardless of how much they earn. More

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    Child Tax Credit, Proposed in Stimulus, Advances an Effort Years in the Making

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }Biden’s Stimulus PlanSenate PassageWhat to Know About the BillWhat the Senate Changed$15 Minimum WageWhere Trump Voters StandAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyIn the Stimulus Bill, a Policy Revolution in Aid for ChildrenThe $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package moving through Congress advances an idea that Democrats have been nurturing for decades: establishing a guaranteed income for families with children.Anique Houpe, a single mother in Georgia, is among the parents whom Democrats are seeking to help with a plan to provide most families with a monthly check of up to $300 per child.Credit…Audra Melton for The New York TimesMarch 7, 2021Updated 5:03 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — A year ago, Anique Houpe, a single mother in suburban Atlanta, was working as a letter carrier, running a side business catering picnics and settling into a rent-to-own home in Stone Mountain, Ga., where she thought her boys would flourish in class and excel on the football field.Then the pandemic closed the schools, the boys’ grades collapsed with distance learning, and she quit work to stay home in hopes of breaking their fall. Expecting unemployment aid that never came, she lost her utilities, ran short of food and was recovering from an immobilizing bout of Covid when a knock brought marshals with eviction papers.Depending on when the snapshot is dated, Ms. Houpe might appear as a striving emblem of upward mobility or a mother on the verge of homelessness. But in either guise, she is among the people Democrats seek to help with a mold-breaking plan, on the verge of congressional passage, to provide most parents a monthly check of up to $300 per child.Obscured by other parts of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which won Senate approval on Saturday, the child benefit has the makings of a policy revolution. Though framed in technocratic terms as an expansion of an existing tax credit, it is essentially a guaranteed income for families with children, akin to children’s allowances that are common in other rich countries.The plan establishes the benefit for a single year. But if it becomes permanent, as Democrats intend, it will greatly enlarge the safety net for the poor and the middle class at a time when the volatile modern economy often leaves families moving between those groups. More than 93 percent of children — 69 million — would receive benefits under the plan, at a one-year cost of more than $100 billion.The bill, which is likely to pass the House and be signed by Mr. Biden this week, raises the maximum benefit most families will receive by up to 80 percent per child and extends it to millions of families whose earnings are too low to fully qualify under existing law. Currently, a quarter of children get a partial benefit, and the poorest 10 percent get nothing.While the current program distributes the money annually, as a tax reduction to families with income tax liability or a check to those too poor to owe income taxes, the new program would send both groups monthly checks to provide a more stable cash flow.By the standards of previous aid debates, opposition has been surprisingly muted. While the bill has not won any Republican votes, critics have largely focused on other elements of the rescue package. Some conservatives have called the child benefit “welfare” and warned that it would bust budgets and weaken incentives to work or marry. But Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, has proposed a child benefit that is even larger, though it would be financed through other safety net cuts.While the proposal took center stage in response to the pandemic, supporters have spent decades developing the case for a children’s income guarantee. Their arguments gained traction as science established the long-term consequences of deprivation in children’s early years, and as rising inequality undercut the idea that everyone had a fair shot at a better life.The economic shock and racial protests of the past year brought new momentum to a plan whose reach, while broad, would especially help Black and Latino families, who are crucial to the Democrats’ coalition.Mr. Biden’s embrace of the subsidies is a leftward shift for a Democratic Party that made deep cuts in cash aid in the 1990s under the theme of “ending welfare.” As a senator, Mr. Biden supported the 1996 welfare restrictions, and as recently as August his campaign was noncommittal about the child benefit.The president now promotes projections that the monthly checks — up to $300 for young children and $250 for those over 5 — would cut child poverty by 45 percent, and by more than 50 percent among Black families.“The moment has found us,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who has proposed a child allowance in 10 consecutive Congresses and describes it as a children’s version of Social Security. “The crystallization of the child tax credit and what it can do to lift children and families out of poverty is extraordinary. We’ve been talking about this for years.”Ms. Houpe’s home state has been crucial to the advance of the benefit. Democrats are in position to enact it only because they won Georgia’s two Senate seats in runoff elections in January, barely gaining control of the chamber. Ms. Houpe decided that she needed to stay home to care for her boys during the pandemic and left a job with the Postal Service that paid nearly $18 an hour.Credit…Audra Melton for The New York TimesWhile Ms. Houpe, an independent, skipped the presidential election, that promise of cash relief led her to vote Democratic in January. “I just felt like the Democrats would be more likely to do something,” she said.Her precarious situation is the kind the subsidy seeks to address. Born to a teenage mother, Ms. Houpe, 33, grew up straining to escape hardship. Though she was young when she had a child, she came close to finishing a bachelor’s degree, found work as pharmacy technician and took a job with the post office to lift her wage to nearly $18 an hour. Raising a son on her own, she took in a nephew whom she regards as a second child.Ms. Houpe seemed on the rise before the pandemic, with the move to a new house. The monthly payment consumed 60 percent of her income, twice what the government deems affordable, but she trimmed the cost by renting out a room and started a side job catering picnics.Biden’s Stimulus PlanFrequently Asked QuestionsUpdated March 6, 2021, 1:58 p.m. ETHow big are the stimulus payments in the bill, and who is eligible?How would the stimulus bill affect unemployment payments?What would the bill do to help people with housing?During the pandemic, she spent six months waiting for schools to reopen until the boys’ plummeting grades — Trejion is 14 and Micah 11 — persuaded her that she could not leave them alone.“I had to make a decision,” Ms. Houpe said, “my boys or my job.”But when her requests for unemployment were denied, the bottom fell out.While critics fear cash aid weakens work incentives, Ms. Houpe said it might have saved her job by allowing her to hire someone part time to supervise the boys.“I definitely would have kept my job,” she said.If she had been receiving the child benefit last year, Ms. Houpe said, she would have used it to hire someone to help watch her boys so she could have kept her job.Credit…Audra Melton for The New York TimesThe campaign for child benefits is at least a half-century old and rests on a twofold idea: Children are expensive, and society shares an interest in seeing them thrive. At least 17 wealthy countries subsidize child-rearing for much of the population, with Canada offering up to $4,800 per child each year. But until recently, a broad allowance seemed unlikely in the United States, where policy was more likely to reflect a faith that opportunity was abundant and a belief that aid sapped initiative.It was a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who abolished the entitlement to cash aid for poor families with children. The landmark law he signed in 1996 created time limits and work requirements and caused an exodus from the rolls. Spending on the poor continued to grow but targeted low-wage workers, with little protection for those who failed to find or keep jobs.In a 2018 analysis of federal spending on children, the economists Hilary W. Hoynes and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach found that virtually all the increases since 1990 went to “families with earnings” and those “above the poverty line.”But rising inequality and the focus on early childhood brought broader subsidies a new look. A landmark study in 2019 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine showed that even short stints in poverty could cause lasting harm, leaving children with less education, lower adult earnings and worse adult health. Though welfare critics said aid caused harm, the panel found that “poverty itself causes negative child outcomes” and that income subsidies “have been shown to improve child well-being.”Republicans may have unwittingly advanced the push for child benefits in 2017 by doubling the existing child tax credit to $2,000 and giving it to families with incomes of up to $400,000, but not extending the full benefit to those in the bottom third of incomes.Republicans said that since the credit was meant to reduce income taxes, it naturally favored families who earned enough to have a tax liability. But by prioritizing the affluent, the move amplified calls for a more equitable child policy.Efforts to increase the benefit and include the needy drew strong support from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and was led in the Senate by the Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a progressive, and Michael Bennet of Colorado, a centrist. A majority of Democrats in both chambers were on board when unemployment surged because of the coronavirus.“The crisis gave Democrats an opportunity by broadening the demand for government relief,” said Sarah A. Binder, a political scientist at George Washington University.Welfare critics warn the country is retreating from success. Child poverty reached a new low before the pandemic, and opponents say a child allowance could reverse that trend by reducing incentives to work. About 10 million children are poor by a government definition that varies with family size and local cost of living. (A typical family of four with income below about $28,000 is considered poor.)“Why are Republicans asleep at the switch?” wrote Mickey Kaus, whose antiwelfare writings influenced the 1990s debate. He has urged Republicans to run ads in conservative states with Democratic senators, attacking them for supporting “a new welfare dole.”Under Mr. Biden’s plan, a nonworking mother with three young children could receive $10,800 a year, plus food stamps and Medicaid — too little to prosper but enough, critics fear, to erode a commitment to work and marriage. Scott Winship of the conservative American Enterprise Institute wrote that the new benefit creates “a very real risk of encouraging more single parenthood and more no-worker families.”But a child allowance differs from traditional aid in ways that appeal to some on the right. Libertarians like that it frees parents to use the money as they choose, unlike targeted aid such as food stamps. Proponents of higher birthrates say a child allowance could help arrest a decline in fertility. Social conservatives note that it benefits stay-at-home parents, who are bypassed by work-oriented programs like child care.And supporters argue that it has fewer work disincentives than traditional aid, which quickly falls as earnings climb. Under the Democrats’ plan, full benefits extend to single parents with incomes of $112,500 and couples with $150,000.Backlash could grow as the program’s sweep becomes clear. But Samuel Hammond, a proponent of child allowances at the center-right Niskanen Center, said the politics of aid had changed in ways that softened conservative resistance.A quarter-century ago, debate focused on an urban underclass whose problems seemed to set them apart from a generally prospering society. They were disproportionately Black and Latino and mostly represented by Democrats. Now, insecurity has traveled up the economic ladder to a broader working class with similar problems, like underemployment, marital dissolution and drugs. Often white and rural, many are voters whom Republicans hope to court.“Republicans can’t count on running a backlash campaign,” Mr. Hammond said. “They crossed the Rubicon in terms of cash payments. People love the stimulus checks.”The muted opposition to the proposal, he said, showed that “people on the right are curious about the child benefit — not committed, but movable.”An analysis by Sophie M. Collyer of Columbia University underscored the plan’s broad reach. She found that in Georgia, the child allowance would bring net gains per child of $1,700 for whites, $1,900 for Latinos and $2,100 for Blacks.As a suburban independent in a state that was long red, Ms. Houpe is among those whose loyalties are up for grabs. She rejected the argument that a child subsidy would promote joblessness and warned that some parents had to work too much. “My son had football games every Saturday morning,” she said, “and I wasn’t there for him as much as I wanted to be.”If aid posed risks, Ms. Houpe said, so did the lack of any. Out of money last fall, she suffered debilitating depression, and a panic attack grew so severe she pulled her car to the side of road. “My son was freaking out” looking for her asthma inhaler, she said. Still trying to get unemployment benefits, Ms. Houpe has plans for a baking business called The Munchie Shopp. She has practiced strawberries dipped in white chocolate and honed her red velvet cake. This week, she tried dying one blue but denied making a political statement.“During an election, people say anything to win,” she said. “Let’s see what they do.”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Democrats to Unveil Up to $3,600 Child Tax Credit as Part of Stimulus Bill

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesSee Your Local RiskVaccine InformationCalifornia Anti-Vaccine ProtestsAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyDemocrats to Unveil Up to $3,600 Child Tax Credit as Part of Stimulus BillThe credit would send monthly payments to millions of Americans under certain income thresholds for a year starting in July.“This money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table,” said Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesEmily Cochrane and Feb. 7, 2021, 5:20 p.m. ETWASHINGTON —  Top House Democrats are preparing to unveil legislation that would send up to $3,600 per child to millions of Americans, as lawmakers aim to change the tax code to target child poverty rates as part of President Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus package.The proposal would expand the child tax credit to provide $3,600 per child younger than 6 and $3,000 per child up to 17 over the course of a year, phasing out the payments for Americans who make more than $75,000 and couples who make more than $150,000. The draft 22-page provision, reported earlier by The Washington Post and obtained by The New York Times, is expected to be formally introduced on Monday as lawmakers race to fill out the contours of Mr. Biden’s stimulus plan.“The pandemic is driving families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating,” said Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and one of the champions of the provision. “This money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table. This is how the tax code is supposed to work for those who need it most.”The credits would be split into monthly payments from the Internal Revenue Service beginning in July, based on a person’s or family’s income in 2020. Although the proposed credit is only for a year, some Democrats said they would fight to make it permanent, a sweeping move that could reshape efforts to fight child poverty in America.The one-year credit appears likely to garner enough support to be included in the stimulus package, but it will also have to clear a series of tough parliamentary hurdles because of the procedural maneuvers Democrats are using to muscle the stimulus package through, potentially without Republican support.With House Democratic leadership aiming to have the stimulus legislation approved on the chamber floor by the end of the month, Congress moved last week to fast-track Mr. Biden’s stimulus plan even as details of the legislation are still being worked out. Buoyed by support from Democrats in both chambers and a lackluster January jobs report, Mr. Biden has warned that he plans to move ahead with his plan whether or not Republicans support it.Republicans, who have accused Mr. Biden of abandoning promises of bipartisanship and raised concerns about the nation’s debt, have largely balked at his plan because of its size and scope after Congress approved trillions of dollars in economic relief in 2020.The Coronavirus Outbreak More