Women are under attack in America. Our freedom is being gleefully stripped away by the conservative Supreme Court and various state legislatures across the nation, and we need our leaders to take every step possible to ensure that women and their children retain any agency they have left. Given it is impossible to extract economic justice from reproductive rights, President Joe Biden and Congress must pass the expanded child tax credit (CTC) and give us a much-needed win.
The policy, which withered on the vine along with the rest of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda due to a refusal to let go of long standing, racist narratives, pulled millions of kids each month from poverty. The expansion also included the key element of “refundability”—meaning households with low or no incomes were included for the first time. Before this addition, the most marginalized were left out of receiving the full credit. This included a third of all children, half of Black and Latinx kids and 70 percent of single moms. Leaving out mostly people of color was purposeful and has everything to do with who we see as deserving of government help.
The expanded inclusion of CTC and raising the maximum credit to $3,600 from $2,000 served as a lifeline to families—many of whom were struggling long before the pandemic, and helped move the needle toward greater freedom and choice for women. As a result, child poverty plummeted to its lowest recorded rate. Moms across the country shared stories of how critical the aid was with the nonprofit Income Movement, speaking about how the monthly payments of up to $300 helped them afford everything from child care so they could return to work to necessary medical visits they had delayed previously because of the cost. Victoria, a mom of three in Wisconsin, said it was the first year she was able to pay all her bills and have a little money left at the end of the month.