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GOP Has Become the Anti-Family Party

Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Last week, 39 million American parents began receiving a monthly child allowance ($300 per child under 6 years old, $250 per child ages 6-17). It’s the biggest helping hand to American families in more than 85 years.

They need it. Even before the pandemic, child poverty had reached postwar records. Even non-poor families were in trouble, burdened with deepening debt and missed payments. Most were living paycheck to paycheck — so if they lost a job, they and their kids could be plunged into poverty. It’s estimated that the new monthly child allowance will cut child poverty by more than half.

But every single Republican in both the House and Senate voted against the measure.

After I posted a tweet reminding people of this indisputable fact, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah responded Friday with a perfectly bizarre tweet: “If you’re one of the 39 million households receiving their first Child Tax Credit payment today, don’t forget that every single Democrat voted against making it larger.”

Hello? Did we just go through the funhouse mirror?

In point of fact, when the American Rescue Plan was being debated earlier this year, Lee and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio did propose slightly larger payments. But here’s the rub: They wanted to restrict them only to “working parents.” Children of the unemployed would be out of luck. Yet those kids are the poorest of the poor. They’re most at risk of being hungry without a roof over their heads.

 

In a joint press release at the time, Lee and Rubio said they refused to support what they termed “welfare assistance” to jobless parents, warning against undercutting “the responsibility of parents to work to provide for their families.” So Lee, Rubio and every other Republican voted against the whole shebang — help for working and non-working parents. And now Lee wants to take credit for wanting to make the payments larger to begin with? Talk about both sides of the mouth.

As we move toward the gravitational pull of the midterm elections — and polls show how popular the monthly child payments are — I expect other Republicans to make the same whopper of a claim.

But underneath this hypocritical Republican rubbish lie two important questions. The first: Will a payment of up to $300 per child every month — totaling up to $3,600 per child per year — invite parents to become couch potatoes?

That seems doubtful. Even a family with three kids under 6 would receive no more than $10,800 a year. That’s way below what’s needed to pay even subsistence expenses, and still far below what a full-time job at the federal minimum wage would pull in.

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