The federal government would pay most parents of young children $350 per child every month under a groundbreaking new proposal from Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) that would put a serious dent in child poverty.
Parents would get $350 for each child younger than 6 and $250 for kids between 6 and 17 under Romney’s Family Security Act, which he unveiled Thursday as Democrats prepare to pass a big pandemic relief bill in the coming weeks.
Romney’s proposal closely resembles a Democratic plan to boost the child tax credit as part of the party’s coronavirus legislation. The tax credit changes have received less attention than an extension of unemployment benefits, vaccine distribution funds and one-time payments of $1,400 for most Americans.
But social policy experts are watching the child credit changes closely. The U.S. is one of the only developed countries that doesn’t pay parents a child benefit or child allowance. Romney’s proposal shows there is bipartisan support for the policy.
Benefits would be capped at $1,250 per month and couples with combined incomes above $400,000 would get less.
Quote:Benefits would be capped at $1,250 per month and couples with combined incomes above $400,000 would get less.
What's the problem?
February 4, 2021
Heather Cox Richardson
Today Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) proposed giving at least $3000 annually per child to American families. This suggestion is coming from a man who, when he ran as the Republican candidate for president in 2012, famously echoed what was then Republican orthodoxy. He was caught on tape saying that “there are 47 percent of the people who… are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
Romney’s proposal indicates the political tide has turned away from the Republicans. Since the 1980s, they have insisted that the government must be starved, dismissing as “socialism” Democrats’ conviction that the government has a role to play in stabilizing the economy and society.
And yet, that idea, which is in line with traditional conservatism, was part of the founding ideology of the Republican Party in the 1850s. It was also the governing ideology of Romney’s father, George Romney, who served as governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, where he oversaw the state’s first income tax, and as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Richard Nixon, where he tried to increase housing for the poor and desegregate the suburbs. It was also at the heart of Romney’s own record in Massachusetts, where as governor from 2003 to 2007, he ushered in the near-universal health care system on which the Affordable Care Act was based.
But in the 1990s, Republican leadership purged from the party any lawmakers who embraced traditional Republicanism, demanding absolutely loyalty to the idea of cutting taxes and government to free up individual enterprise. By 2012, Romney had to run from his record, including his major health care victory in Massachusetts. Now, just a decade later, he has returned to the ideas behind it.
If members of the working poor are going to get $350 per child, people who have the highest incomes should be compensated proportionally, maybe levelling off the subsidy at fifty or sixty times the amount doled out to the minimum wage workers. It's only fair.