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May 30, 2024

The Contradictions in Democrats’ Child Tax Credit Expansion Promises

Politicians regularly vie for the support of parents with promises of good schools, bigger family benefits, and tax relief. President Joe Biden did just that last week in calling for increased funding for public education, child care, and more. Sometimes just the language of the proposal—like the president’s call to expand the child tax credit (CTC)—appears to…

May 8, 2024

Beltway Liberals Are Playing Name Games to Expand the Welfare State

Higher prices aren’t the only kind of inflation coming out of Washington these days. Wildly inflated group names are on the rise, too — and they’re being used as a tool to expand government welfare benefits given even to able-bodied adults without dependents. That’s the term long used by the Department of Agriculture to describe those in their prime working years…

April 26, 2024

Washington, District of Benefit Cliffs

As the welfare state expands while policymakers struggle to contain its costs, one unintended result is the creation of significant benefit cliffs. A little-noticed September 2023 report authored by Elias Ilin and Alvaro Sanchez of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (“Mitigating Benefits Cliffs for Low-Income Families: District of Columbia Career Mobility Action Plan as a Case Study”) explains…

April 8, 2024

We Still Don’t Know How Much Taxpayers Lost Due to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Fraud

One of the first programs Congress created to assist Americans thrown out of work by the pandemic was the unprecedented Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA expanded unemployment benefits to millions of independent contractors, the self-employed, and others never before eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) checks. But in some of the worst policy choices of…

April 4, 2024

Biden’s ‘Tax Cut’ Rhetoric Is Really Just Code For Benefit Increases

President Biden’s rhetoric about his new budget proposal suggests it is full of tax relief for working families. For example, one White House fact sheet is headlined “The President’s Budget Cuts Taxes for Working Families and Makes Big Corporations and the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share.” Taking from the rich to give more to working (and even non-working) families is a…

March 11, 2024

How Many Forms of “Wage Insurance” Do We Need, Exactly?

One of the most controversial policies included in H. R. 7024, the “Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act” that passed the House on January 31, is a provision that would expand the “lookback” to determine eligibility for the child tax credit (CTC). Under current law, adults claiming the CTC for a tax year…

March 7, 2024

Growing Congressional Dysfunction Will Worsen Our Fiscal Problems

Few were surprised when deposed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) retired in December. While Republican leaders tend to exit quickly after losing committee gavels or leadership posts, the additional departure of other respected senior lawmakers in both parties is damaging legislative capacity on the Hill. Congress is losing the sort of policy-making veterans it needs to craft and pass important legislation. Their reasons for leaving vary and often include Congress’s general inability to pass needed legislation. That dysfunction is evident…

February 29, 2024

Recalling Pandemic Lessons on “Self-Certifying” Eligibility

Sometimes what is left unmentioned can be far more important than what is said. A good example is obscure guidance issued last week by the US Department of Labor (DOL) encouraging workforce programs to allow beneficiaries to self-certify their eligibility. That guidance directly affects a handful of programs with limited funding that offer a variety of employment-related…

February 27, 2024

Options for Improving the Child Tax Credit Provisions in H.R. 7024, the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024

H.R. 7024, the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024, passed the House on January 31, 2024 and now faces an uncertain fate in the Senate. The bill is intended to offer something for both Republicans and Democrats—business tax cuts and an expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). But this bargain—which…

February 9, 2024

Resolving to Learn Lessons from Record Pandemic Fraud

Congress doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions, but if it did, digesting our new report on pandemic fraud would be a good one. Released last week, the new report (“Pandemic Unemployment Fraud in Context: Causes, Costs, and Solutions”) details the how and why of record unemployment benefit fraud during the pandemic. Enacting even some of our policy resolutions…