Working families bear the brunt of bait-and-switch tax plan

By Olivia Golden and Fatima Goss Graves

The Republican tax bills approved by the House of Representatives and currently on the Senate floor funnel the lion’s share of benefits to the wealthy and corporations, at the expense of working families. The Trump Administration claims — against evidence to the contrary — that this isn’t true and that it’s a boon for these families. But we can spot a phony sales pitch when we see one — and this one is bogus. Their plan will undercut working parents, decimate federal and state budgets, and undermine child care, health care, and other programs that support families’ economic security and children’s education.

Much of the sales pitch has been tied to proposed changes in the Child Tax Credit (CTC) — but the promise belies the reality. The high cost of raising a child means that families of little and modest means need help paying for child care, food, clothing, and other necessities the most. Yet, instead of strengthening the CTC for these families the Republican plans in the House and Senate spend more revenue to make the CTC available to higher-income earners. Low-income working families with children — who have the greatest need for financial assistance — would gain little to no new relief. Additionally, a significant number of children with taxpaying immigrant parents would be stripped of the benefits they now receive. So the Republicans’ CTC proposals actually leave some hardworking families worse off than they are now while providing a substantial boost in the CTC to higher-income households.

Children and families lose out under the rest of the Republican tax plan as well. One particularly egregious example: the Senate bill proposes gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would result in loss of health insurance coverage for 13 million nationwide, cause individual market premiums to increase, and destabilize the individual health insurance market. Families struggling to make ends meet will bear the brunt of these devastating effects.

That’s not even the worst of it. Low-income working families who see no gain from the plan will be the first in line to pay for it. House Republicans have made clear that they will offset the huge increase in the federal deficit — at least $1.5 trillion — by making sharp cuts in core federal support for Americans of modest means. Their most recent budget proposals give us more than a hint of what they will target: federal funding for programs that offer child care assistance, nutrition assistance, Medicaid, Medicare, Pell grants, help for the disabled, public education, and more. Under this tax plan, working families lose out twice: they get little or nothing from tax cuts for the rich and risk losing these critical supports.

There’s a great deal that Republicans could do to support the hard-working families they claim to care about. They could properly fund the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the federal funding source that provides direct assistance to help low-income families afford and gain access to high-quality child care. Child care subsidies have demonstrated a compelling pro-work effect that has allowed large numbers of mothers to attain steady employment.

If Members of Congress were serious about supporting families, they would defeat this package of giveaways to the wealthy and corporations, pass the Child Care for Working Families Act to make high-quality child care affordable for working parents — and make real improvements not only to the Child Tax Credit, but also to the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Americans should not be fooled by a plan that gives little help to working families now, and takes away their health insurance or ability to feed their young children later. Until Republicans produce a tax plan and budget that helps women and their families, we’ll keep saying no to the bait-and-switch.

This post was originally featured on Medium.