Home > Uncategorized > COVID Relief Provides One Year of Assistance to ALL Families… Will the Pro-Family GOP Support it Going Forward?

COVID Relief Provides One Year of Assistance to ALL Families… Will the Pro-Family GOP Support it Going Forward?

March 8, 2021

The stunning bottom line of the COVID relief package and the $1400 checks everyone will receive as a result have garnered the most headlines… but the most important element of the bill is the de facto Universal Basic Income (UBI) of $300/month/child that is baked into the legislation. As this NYTimes article by Jason DeParle notes, this is a sea change in policy direction. He writes:

Obscured by other parts of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which won Senate approval on Saturday, the child benefit has the makings of a policy revolution. Though framed in technocratic terms as an expansion of an existing tax credit, it is essentially a guaranteed income for families with children, akin to children’s allowances that are common in other rich countries.

The plan establishes the benefit for a single year. But if it becomes permanent, as Democrats intend, it will greatly enlarge the safety net for the poor and the middle class at a time when the volatile modern economy often leaves families moving between those groups. More than 93 percent of children — 69 million — would receive benefits under the plan, at a one-year cost of more than $100 billion.

The GOP, the party that likes to bill itself as pro-family, could not get behind an alternative plan presented by Mitt Romney that would have funded the “children’s allowance” by cutting some other programs that might arguably be duplicative, presumably because Mr. Romney is now a persona non-grata among the Trump loyalists in the GOP or maybe because ANY expansion of benefits for (gasp) CHILDREN would be seen as profligate. And here’s another counter argument:

Welfare critics warn the country is retreating from success. Child poverty reached a new low before the pandemic, and opponents say a child allowance could reverse that trend by reducing incentives to work. About 10 million children are poor by a government definition that varies with family size and local cost of living. (A typical family of four with income below about $28,000 is considered poor.)

If “work” for the poor was the same as work for the middle and upper classes this argument MIGHT have some merit… but while “work” for the middle and affluent classes consists of a predictable work week with predictable wages, decent working conditions, and some benefits provided beyond salary, “work” for those on the margins is often multiple part-time assignments with no benefits, just-in-time scheduling that can change from day to day and sometimes during the shift.

Moreover, the cultural conservatives who would like to see mothers relived from work altogether while their children are ver young persist in refusing to mandate reasonable parental leave policies because of the harm it will do the bottom line of businesses. As Mr. DeParle notes, their duplicity is increasingly evident and is helping the progressive wing of the Democratic party accomplish one of its longstanding goals, to restore the safety net that the neoliberal wing of their party shredded.

The COVID relief package seems destined to pass without a single GOP vote… now the real fight begins as H.R. 1 wends its way through the legislature.

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