(RNS) — The devastating COVID-19 well being disaster has change into an financial disaster for hundreds of thousands of individuals — however not for everybody. Final yr, households throughout america struggled to place meals on the desk and stability the obligations of childcare and work (assuming they nonetheless had a job), however the wealthiest individuals in our nation solely bought wealthier.
That wealth has not trickled right down to households who’re struggling to pay their lease, feed their youngsters and create an economically safe high quality of life.
The American Rescue Plan — the COVID-19 reduction invoice handed in March — expanded eligibility for 2 of essentially the most important anti-poverty applications we’ve. It made the Youngster Tax Credit score absolutely refundable, fixing the hole that excluded households in poverty from receiving the identical advantages as their higher-earning counterparts.
It additionally expanded the Earned Earnings Tax Credit score for staff with out youngsters, younger staff ages 19-24 and older staff over age 65.
Each changes put extra money into the pockets of low-income individuals who had been beforehand ineligible — a lot of them frontline staff within the pandemic. However these funds will expire on Dec. 31 if Congress doesn’t prolong them.
These tax credit work, and, not surprisingly, they’re wildly in style. The Youngster Tax Credit score offers a lifeline of financial assist to households nationwide who want cash to pay for daycare, groceries, utilities, lease, and well being care payments that pile up nonstop. That is cash being pumped again into native economies coast to coast proper now, making a virtuous financial cycle of serving to individuals in want and native enterprise.
Just lately, I spoke with Barbie Izquierdo on the worth of applications like these. An advocate and advisor who eloquently provides voice for meals justice primarily based on her private expertise, Barbie advised me that regardless of all her work — typically full time, typically half time, usually working multiple job — she “would nonetheless come residence to an empty fridge.” Her story is shared by lots of of 1000’s of households throughout our nation.
To this present day, the tax credit are one of many major obstacles holding Barbie from falling again into poverty as she raises her 14- and 16-year-old youngsters as a single mom. “(They) assist you catch up and it alleviates a few of the burden of being reminded that you simply’re poor. They’ve positively helped me on many events,” she defined. “Who is aware of if I’d be right here as we speak if I didn’t have that assist?”
Since July, hundreds of thousands of households have been receiving Youngster Tax Credit score checks every month. The most recent authorities information signifies that these strong federal applications have put a dent in poverty, which has cascading advantages for kids now and of their future — if we are able to hold these applications in place previous the top of the yr.
As Congress continues to barter extra restoration laws, we’ve a historic alternative to completely put money into the way forward for our kids. Congress ought to seize this second to not solely give fast assist to tens of 1000’s of their constituents but in addition to strengthen our nation’s future.
Particularly, we should regulate the tax code that bends over backward for the extraordinarily rich whereas treating those that battle day by day to afford meals and housing as a burden. The extra Congress can increase in income, the larger the chance we’ve to handle poverty and starvation whereas investing in our kids. It takes actual political will to require companies and the wealthiest amongst us to pay their fair proportion. However we count on nothing much less.
As a Quaker, my religion and follow encourage me to deal with each individual as a beloved little one of God, which suggests I’m referred to as to do all I can to foster a extra equitable, moral world through which each individual can flourish.
I imagine Congress needs to assist households in want, to make sure a greater world for all. That is their alternative to assist the complete refundability of the Youngster Tax Credit score. That is the political second after we could make transformational change in our nation.
(Diane Randall is the overall secretary of the Pals Committee on Nationwide Laws, a nationwide, nonpartisan Quaker foyer for peace, justice, and the atmosphere. The views expressed on this commentary don’t essentially replicate these of Faith Information Service.)