Thoughts from Congress on the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act

On June 24th, 2014, the House Ways and Means Committee marked up HR4953, The Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014. Because this bill will proceed to the House floor for a vote, we are offering more extended analysis. We have already posted the sponsor’s introductory comments, and an analysis by Elaine Maag of the Tax Policy Center. Today we are sharing commentary from other members of the Ways and Means Committee on the bill.

Rep. Jenkins proposed HR4935 to help middle class families afford the growing cost of raising children. Rep. Brady (R-TX) pointed out that this is a bipartisan concern, noting “It’s expensive to raise children. And both parties have always agreed on that.”

In the Committee markup, Rep. Levin (D-MI) called HR4935 a “piecemeal approach” that does not address the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit and commented that Republicans are selectively reforming the tax code by prioritizing the wealthy over the poor through bills like HR4935.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D, TX) raised concerns that the cost of the bill, which has no offset, would reduce the money available for other investments in children. He argued:

“The Republican failure to extend improvements made to the child tax credit would plunge millions into poverty. Their unfunded child tax credit bill is the latest entry in the ledger of accounts payable for American taxpayers.

When we add nearly a trillion dollars to the national debt, mostly reserved for tax cuts for the largest companies, we squeeze out necessary investments in our children and reduce America’s competitiveness in the future. These tax bills represent a death by a trillion cuts, debt by a trillion dollars. Children are too often the losers in federal budget battles. Adding nearly a trillion dollars to the debt now will mean that programs important to children like Head Start, public education, child abuse prevention, and CHIP will be on the chopping block in the near future.”

When we asked Rep. Schwartz (D-PA), who spoke extensively in the mark-up, for her thoughts on the bill, she noted the impact on single parents earning minimum wage of expanding the credit without making the temporary extensions that expire in 2017 permanent. She told us:

“The Republican legislation would cost taxpayers $115 billion, far more than the cost of simply extending current policy. And yet, under the Republican approach, a single parent earning minimum wage would see their benefit slashed to $0, while those earning $150,000 or more are provided with a significant tax cut. At a time when more and more families are struggling to get by, it makes absolutely no sense to eliminate benefits for working mothers, and then to turn around and use that money to provide tax cuts for those earning significantly more. I opposed this legislation in Committee, and I will urge my colleagues to reject this legislation should it reach the floor.”

The video of Rep. Doggett’s complete remarks is available here.  The video of the full markup has not yet been posted on the Committee website.

The bill, a technical amendment and analyses from the Joint Committee on Taxation can all be found on the Ways and Means website.