Romney’s youngster profit plan would assist kids through the coronavirus — and afterward

The demand for monthly child benefit checks for American children was only non-partisan: Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney’s Child Benefit Plan Would Help Children During Coronavirus – and Afterwards The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – House boots Greene from committees; Senate Plows Budget Ahead Senate Democrats Approve Budget Resolution, Knock Off MORE Coronavirus BillThe newly proposed Family Safety Act (R-Utah) would give parents of children under 6 a check for $ 350 each month, while parents of children ages 6-17 would receive $ 250. Romney’s plan is similar to Biden’s proposal for pandemic relief to send $ 300 monthly checks to children under 6 and $ 250 checks to children 6-17 years old. The fact of bipartisan support for child support controls is an encouraging sign that the United States is finally moving closer to the public family support systems that every other prosperous democracy has put in place, and which are far better at protecting the well-being of children than our own.

Numerous studies show that the question of whether children are given consistent resources has a critical and lasting influence on their development. This research is worrying given that nearly half of U.S. households have seen disruptions in income since March 2020. Households with children, especially those with lower incomes, suffered disproportionately from these losses. (No wonder, given the widespread school and daycare closings, parents have to be at home to supervise children.) One in five children now lives in poverty, including nearly one in four black and Hispanic children. Almost every sixth child does not even get enough to eat – an unprecedented number in recent decades that should put the richest country in the world to shame. The number is even higher for black and Hispanic children: three in ten and one in four go hungry. During the nearly year that the pandemic raged, lawmakers only issued parents a one-time check for $ 500 per child – a drop in the bucket of how much it costs to support children during this time.

Inaction towards children is based on the long-standing dogma of the legislature about the virtues of a free market economy. Of course, this free market dogma supposedly also applied to companies. However, when it became clear just how badly the high street had been hit by the pandemic, Congress quickly passed more than $ 1 trillion to prop up private businesses. Nevertheless, the legislature has still held this dogma against children.

But the idea of ​​corporate socialism and free market capitalism for children gets it wrong: the ultimate goal of business should be to ensure that Americans, and children in particular, get the resources they need. Ensuring solid business is a means to this end, but not the ultimate end. If families cannot provide children with the resources they need through paid work, as many in the pandemic cannot, that goal requires the government to help them. Companies can take a break during the pandemic. Children’s needs do not.

Even beyond the current crisis, child benefit programs play an important role in supporting child wellbeing, a fact recognized in Romney’s proposal for permanent child benefit. (Biden suggests benefits for just one year.) Before the pandemic, U.S. expectation that families would support unaided children regularly failed on children. In 2018, almost one in seven children lived in poverty based on annual household income – a far higher rate than other rich countries, in large part due to these countries’ numerous family programs, including child support, which have a steady stream of public funding provided to families. Taking into account all family benefits, Germany provides the average single parent with two children with around 29 percent of the average full-time employee’s salary. The United States gives such a family only 0.6 percent of the average salary of a full-time employee. German funding sets a floor under which no child falls if the parents have no resources. When a US parent is going through tough times in the US system like today, children just don’t get what they need.

However, child benefit would not only serve those children whose families fall below the poverty line of annual income. The rise in income insecurity in the United States means that even before the pandemic, a shocking four in ten children were living in households that fell below the poverty line for at least two months a year. Child benefit would also protect these children from developmental damage caused by inconsistent support. And they would benefit even children from families with more stable incomes by increasing the “ceiling” on the resources their families could use to support them. In doing so, child support controls would help fill the significant gaps in wealth between US children and children from other rich countries in a number of interventions, including mental health, happiness, and academic achievement.

Recent child support proposals should be considered for the benefits they provide to children during the pandemic and beyond. However, they should be passed without the further cuts to the safety net that Romney’s proposal is proposing to offset their costs. It is time for US policymakers to join other advanced democracies in recognizing that public funding is critical to children’s prosperity. There is no better use of government funds or purposes for the economy than this.

Maxine Eichner is Professor of Law at the UNC School of Law and author of “The Free-Market Family: How the Market Shattered the American Dream (and How It Can Be Restored)”.

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