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How Congress can convey excellent news to the poor this Introduction

(RNS) — Because the season of Introduction begins, thousands and thousands of Christians around the globe put together to mark the start of a kid born on the margins of an ideal empire.

Because it occurs, Introduction runs alongside one other season of kinds within the nation’s capital: a lame-duck congressional session. Lawmakers aren’t anticipated to move a lot laws throughout this time — therefore the fowl nickname — however they are going to possible contemplate extending Trump-era tax cuts for firms.

This gives a chance — even an ethical obligation — to convey excellent news to American kids as nicely. Congress mustn’t approve any year-end company tax breaks with out increasing the kid tax credit score.

Within the throes of the pandemic, in 2021, Congress expanded the kid tax credit score, elevating the quantity obtainable to the poorest American households as much as $3,600 a yr per baby and permitting the credit score to be distributed throughout the tax yr in month-to-month installments. The measure produced historic outcomes. Even throughout a worldwide pandemic and financial recession, the expanded credit score helped drive the kid poverty price to a document low of 5.2%, in response to the Heart on Finances and Coverage Priorities.

RELATED: Christian leaders press lawmakers to extend child tax credit for poor families

The present Congress allowed the expanded credit score to run out on the finish of 2021, resulting in dire penalties: 3.7 million children, together with 2.5 million Black and Latino youngsters, fell again into poverty. Some consider that quantity will rise to 4.1 million due to the still-rising prices of meals, fuel and housing.

These numbers signify a deep — and completely pointless — ethical failure.

Because the Heart on Finances and Coverage Priorities pointedly stated, “The success of the 2021 enlargement confirmed us that top baby poverty charges are a coverage alternative, not an inevitability.”

A swing sits empty on a playground in Windfall, Rhode Island, March 7, 2020. Columbia College’s Heart on Poverty and Social Coverage estimates that the variety of kids in poverty grew by 3.7 million from December 2021 to January 2022, a 41% improve, only one month with out the expanded baby tax credit score funds. (AP Picture/David Goldman, File)

In a nation the place thousands and thousands declare to observe the teachings of Christ, that is surprisingly un-Christian conduct. Within the Gospels, Jesus makes his concern for youngsters crystal clear. Within the Gospel of Matthew, he explicitly says that caring about God entails caring for youngsters. “Whoever welcomes a baby in my identify welcomes me,” he says. 

On this nation, we have now constructed security nets for firms (within the type of monetary bailouts), for farms (federal subsidies) and for retirees (Social Safety.) Why haven’t we produced a social security web for youngsters, our most susceptible members?

I’ve heard tales about dad and mom who used the tax credit score to pay overdue physician payments, purchase new college garments, repair the household automobile and pay for web connections so their kids don’t fall behind in class.

One research discovered that greater than half of households that acquired the kid tax credit score used the cash to place meals on the desk. Take into consideration that: The politicians who ended this program actually took meals from the mouths of kids. We all know that taking this cash away will harm kids, who did nothing to deserve such hurt. Analysis exhibits that kids who stay in a household with earnings beneath the poverty line show decrease ranges of instructional attainment, poorer well being and decrease earnings.

However increasing the kid tax credit score is greater than ethical; it’s additionally economically sound.

A report from the Joint Economic Committee discovered that each greenback of CTC funds generates $8 in social and financial advantages, as households spend this a refund into the area people. Regardless of fears that the credit score would deter employment, analysis proved in any other case, with nearly 94% of fogeys saying they plan to proceed working on the similar price or much more.

Reviving the expanded baby tax credit score isn’t political — it’s about staying true to our ethical obligations by giving households the means to outlive and thrive.

The road between religion and politics isn’t at all times direct, however caring for youngsters shouldn’t be a political matter. We now have a generational alternative to alleviate the scourge of kid poverty on this nation. In accordance with researchers, the kid tax credit score lifted thousands and thousands of households above the poverty line, decreased meals insecurity by practically a 3rd and minimize baby poverty by 40%.

RELATED: The Holy Family at risk

We don’t all must agree on learn how to struggle poverty on this nation, however after we see one thing that works, such because the baby tax credit score, it makes little sense to cease merely as a result of Congress can’t summon the political will. We now have an ethical obligation to make sure that each baby — every made within the picture of God — has the prospect to develop and thrive. That’s what it means to be “pro-family.”

The Rev. Jim Wallis. Courtesy photo

The Rev. Jim Wallis. Courtesy photograph

When Jesus started his public ministry, he did so with a easy however profound message. He got here, because the prophet stated, to “convey excellent news to the poor.” This Introduction, the enlargement of the kid tax credit score can be welcome information for thousands and thousands of American households.

(The Rev. Jim Wallis is director of Georgetown College’s Heart on Religion and Justice and holds the Chair in Religion and Justice on the McCourt Faculty of Public Coverage. The views expressed on this commentary don’t essentially mirror these of Faith Information Service.)

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