MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article-Ending child poverty is mission worthy of this great nation

Posted by M. C. on April 4, 2021

Sounds great! But Casey has forgotten we still have LBJ’s war on poverty that began in 1964 with a cost, so far, of $22 trillion.

“I am from the government and am here to help”.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=0d93ce59c

Your Turn

Sen. Bob Casey Guest columnist

For too long, America has led the Global North in the number of children living in poverty. Historically, almost one in seven kids in the United States grow up in poverty and the United States has consistently ranked near the bottom of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in child poverty rates. Poverty not only affects individual children, but also has broader societal effects, including higher spending on health care, increased rates of crime, reduced rates of educational attainment and higher spending on remedial education. This is unacceptable. Fortunately, the recently enacted

American Rescue Plan legislation takes the largest step since the Great Society of the 1960s to end child poverty in America.

The pandemic and subsequent economic fallout have highlighted the challenges that many children and their parents face: lack of child care, hunger, disparities in health and education access and outcomes, among others. The labor force participation rate for women is the lowest we’ve seen since the 1980s. Women are almost three times as likely as men to not be working due to lack of child care. Access to quality and affordable child care is essential to our nation’s economic recovery as one in five working-age adults said child care was a reason they were not working.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) has provided a foundation for transformative change in the lives of children in America and working parents across our commonwealth and our country. Under the ARP, Pennsylvania families will receive support from the historic expansions of the Child Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. The Child Tax Credit will increase to $3,000 (and to $3,600 for children under age 6). Legislation I authored will expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and will help parents cover up to half the cost of child or dependent care. Working parents can get up to $4,000 for child care expenses for one child or up to $8,000 for two or more kids or dependents. For example, a family making $65,000 with two kids that has $10,000 in child care expenses will receive $5,000. Both tax credits will now be fully refundable, allowing all families to take advantage of the credits.

Responding to the hunger crisis that the pandemic further exacerbated, the ARP also includes immediate food assistance that can reach our most vulnerable children and communities. Through an extension of the 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the end of September, we can continue to respond to the severity of food insecurity that families now face. An extension of the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program will also provide much needed food assistance through the summer for children when schools are closed and school meals are inaccessible. Additionally, the ARP directs additional investments to vulnerable children through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to modernize the program, expand service delivery models, improve outreach and participation and temporarily increase the amount of fruit and vegetables participants can obtain.

Many of the policies in the ARP are consistent with policies that I announced last year in my Five Freedoms for America’s Children proposal. My Five Freedoms proposal suggests a series of polices that, taken together, represent a fulfillment of our commitment to American children. The plan is built on five pillars: The freedom to be healthy, the freedom to be economically secure, the freedom to learn, freedom from hunger and the freedom to be safe from harm. We made extraordinary down payments on a number of these in the ARP, but we have to make them permanent going forward.

We must also set aggressive child poverty reduction targets and measure progress toward them. This target will be critical in sustaining and improving upon any progress made through the important policies in the ARP. My bill, the Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2021 (S. 643), would do this. It would establish a national goal of reducing child poverty by half in 10 years and require annual reporting on the progress we are making toward that goal.

We also know that food insecurity in Pennsylvania and throughout the country will unfortunately outlive the pandemic. For this reason it is essential that we continue to work to address hunger among children. A bill that I will soon introduce, the School Hunger Elimination Act, would expand access to healthy meals and drastically help reduce hunger in schools. As Congress looks to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act this year, these reforms can help expand eligibility and assistance through school meals to our most vulnerable children and families.

President Biden and Democrats are keeping our promises to millions of Pennsylvanians, investing in our economy and in our workers and lifting half of America’s children out of poverty. Ending poverty among children is a mission worthy of a great nation. With the passage of the ARP, our nation is one step closer to providing vulnerable children with the resources they need to grow and succeed.

Democrat Bob Casey has represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate since 2006.

President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan on March 11 in Washington. Andrew Harnik/AP

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