Democrats are about to start sending monthly checks for most U.S. children. Why are Republicans so quiet?

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Peter Weber
·2 min read
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President Biden is expected to sign his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan this week, sending $1,400 checks to millions of Americans and unleashing billions of dollars for schools, COVID-19 vaccinations, struggling farmers, the transportation sector, and others beneficiaries.

The package also "includes a plan to temporarily raise the child tax credit that could end up permanently changing the way the country deals with child poverty," The Associated Press reports. Most parents will get monthly payments of up to $300 for each child 5 and under and $250 for children 6 to 17.

"The child benefit has the makings of a policy revolution," The New York Times reports. "It is essentially a guaranteed income for families with children," aiding "more than 93 percent of children" in the U.S. A recent study found it will reduce child poverty by 45 percent, and more among Black families. Democrats intend to make the one-year benefit permanent.

"Opposition has been surprisingly muted," the Times reports. No Republicans will vote for the bill, but Biden is about to sign "the greatest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ," Politico's Playbook said Monday. "How did Democrats win this fight over welfare while barely firing a shot?"

Briefly, "the twin crises of disease and recession boosted support for government intervention well beyond what has been tolerated for decades," Politico said. "Donald Trump and the GOP's own support for the last two bills depolarized the fight over this one," Republicans have been "distracted by internal divisions," and "the conservative media was distracted by juicier fare than tax policy," like Dr. Seuss and antifa.

Some conservatives warn the child credit will "bust budgets and weaken incentives to work or marry," the Times notes. "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," while "proponents of higher birthrates say a child allowance could help arrest a decline in fertility" and "social conservatives note that it benefits stay-at-home parents."

Also, unlike the racially tinged welfare fights of the 1980s and '90s, many of the beneficiaries here are rural white voters. "Republicans can't count on running a backlash campaign," Samual Hammond, a child allowance proponent at the center-right Niskanen Center, tells the Times. "They crossed the Rubicon in terms of cash payments. People love the stimulus checks," and "people on the right are curious about the child benefit — not committed, but movable."

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