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Sen. Joe Manchin doesn't want the child tax credit to go on in its current form.
A work requirement would ensure payments are "accountable," he told West Virginia's MetroNews.
He said harsher salary thresholds would make sure the aid reaches families that need it most.
The child tax credit would have to look dramatically different for Sen. Joe Manchin to support an extension.
The West Virginia senator drove a stake through Democrats' spending hopes on Sunday, announcing on Fox News that he wouldn't vote for President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan as it stands. Part of the proposal included an extension of the child tax credit, which has doled out monthly payments as large as $300 to roughly 36 million households since it began in July.
The last checks for the program went out on December 15. Manchin has for months criticized the Build Back Better plan's price tag, arguing that it posed too great a risk with inflation already at historic highs. But in an interview with West Virginia's MetroNews on Monday, Manchin revealed more reasons for his opposition — and specifically why he wouldn't back a re-up of the child tax credit.
The centrist senator began by repeating his call for a work requirement, suggesting that such a test is necessary for the payments to be "accountable." Other Senate Democrats had rebuked a work requirement in recent months, arguing that raising a child is work. Manchin signaled in the interview that unless such a stipulation were added, he would allow the credit to expire in late December.
Manchin also raised concerns about the credit's income thresholds. The senator told the MetroNews host Hoppy Kercheval that there was no test to ensure the credit reaches the families who need it most and that it's led the program to be more expensive than necessary.
"Do you believe people making $200,000 and $400,000 should still get the child tax credit the same as someone making $50,000, $60,000, or $70,000 that really needs it?" Manchin said. The $200,000 and $400,000 levels are where the child tax credit phases out faster for individual or joint tax filers; households making more than those levels each year already aren't able to receive the full credit.
Earlier Monday, HuffPost reported on some of the qualms about the credit that Manchin had privately raised. Manchin told Democratic colleagues in recent months he was concerned that parents would waste the payments on drugs, the report said, citing sources familiar with the senator's comments.
Though Manchin didn't address such concerns in the MetroNews interview, he said he thought the program should be more targeted. He said Congress should "make sure the money follows a child" so it can go to another caretaker if parents aren't raising the child.
There are "so many things we can fix" that Democrats "won't even talk about," Manchin said, adding that "we've been way far apart philosophically."
The fallout from an expired child tax credit would likely be harsh. Researchers at Columbia University's Center on Poverty and Social Policy found that the child poverty rate dropped to 11.9% in July, after the first payments were sent, from 15.8% in June. Researchers at the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said earlier in December that almost 10 million children would risk falling back into poverty if the credit weren't renewed.
The credit's expiration would also come months before the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates, leaving families with higher borrowing costs while direct aid dries up.
Other Democrats aren't giving up yet on passing the spending plan and extending the credit. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday vowed to "keep fighting" for the plan, saying in a letter to colleagues that Manchin's opposition wouldn't deter the party "from continuing to find a way forward."
How the party moves forward, however, is unclear. Manchin's remarks all but guarantee that if the child tax credit is extended at all, it won't be nearly as wide-reaching as it's been this year.
Read the original article on Business Insider