Historic expansion of tax credit refund programs would cut child poverty in the U.S. in half, lift more than 171,000 Georgia children out of poverty
Senator Reverend Warnock was instrumental in including one-year expansion of Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit programs in landmark American Rescue Plan
Senator Warnock on need for permanent expansion: “Let’s make these tax credits permanent, and resurrect hope and possibility and promise for all of America’s children”
***WATCH FULL VIDEO OF SENATOR WARNOCK’S REMARKS HERE***
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) joined his colleagues on the Senate floor to highlight the transformative impacts of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit—two vital tax refund programs for low-income families and workers that were expanded for one year in the landmark American Rescue Plan—and push federal policymakers to make the historic expansion of these programs permanent. Senator Warnock was joined in this effort on the Senate floor by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Michael Bennett (D-CO), who alongside Senator Warnock were instrumental in including the tax credit expansions in the COVID relief package. Senator Warnock’s remarks come ahead of several planned stops throughout Georgia where he will discuss the benefits of the American Rescue Plan’s expansive relief for Georgians and Americans.
“When you help poor families with children, they buy things like food, baby diapers, a coat for their kid—and it helps the American economy. The right thing to do, is the smart thing to do. And if Congress can slash child poverty for one year, why wouldn’t we or shouldn’t we do it once and for all? And so, I urge the Senate to stand up and do this work,” Sen. Warnock said during his remarks.
“Let’s make these tax credits permanent, and resurrect hope and possibility and promise for all of America’s children,” Senator Warnock continued.
The expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) included in the American Rescue Plan provides families an additional $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17, and $3,600 for young children under the age of 6, in new monthly payments, strengthening financial security. Additionally, the strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) included in the American Rescue Plan nearly triples the maximum amount allowed for workers, putting more money in the pockets of an estimated 572,000 childless workers in Georgia and helping keep local economies strong. The historic one-year expansion of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit programs will lift half of American children out of poverty, including more than 171,000 children in Georgia.
Watch video of Senator Warnock’s full remarks HERE.
Read Senator Warnock’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, BELOW:
“Mr. President, I rise today to join my colleagues—Senator Brown, Senator Booker, you, Senator Bennet—in shining a bright spotlight on the tragedy of child poverty, and what the Senate needs to do to—and can do—to eliminate poverty permanently; child poverty across our country.
“Someone said that children are the casualties of every age. And so, while this is a long-standing problem, the fight that could not be more urgent, as countless families work to pull themselves out of the economic misery caused by a once-in-a-century pandemic. This pain is felt all across our country.
“But as we talk about the issue of child poverty, this is not theoretical—for me, it is personal. I grew up in public housing. One of 12 children in my family; I’m number 11, and the first college graduate. I stand here today as a United States Senator. But I am the product of good federal public policy and good public schools. I know that what we do in this chamber makes a difference in the lives of families and in the lives of all of our children.
“My life’s journey is a testament to the promise of our country—the greatest country on Earth—when we make the necessary investments in our youth and enable them to thrive.
“As a pastor, I speak to young people all the time. And I often go back to my hometown of Savannah, Georgia, and communities all across Georgia like the neighborhood where I grew up in, and in my efforts to inspire children who are struggling, I tell them that your parents’ income does not have to determine your outcome. It’s not where you start, its where you end up. Now that’s what I say to them, and I believe it because they need to be inspired to give it all that they’ve got.
“But the truth is when I tell them that their parents’ income does not determine their outcome,that is not based simply on what they do but on what we do. That has to be made real through good public policy.
“And that’s why I was so proud to work with my Senate colleagues, and I was so happy to join this United States Senate at such a critical time in our country. And in a moment when we,buoyed by the people of Georgia who made a historic choice, our majority enabled us to pass the American Rescue Plan.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen how the consequences of COVID-19 and the economic downturn that followed it have both illuminated and exacerbated so many of the long-standing disparities that have challenged Georgians, Americans, people everywhere. And we know low-income families, and children especially, have not only not been spared, but have in many ways suffered more than most. Children the casualties of every age.
“According to data from the Center for American Progress, we know that nearly 1 in 5 children in Georgia was living in poverty last year…
“Think about that. Nearly one in five. Children. In poverty. In the middle of a pandemic. It’s tough enough to live in poverty. But it’s even tougher to live in poverty in the middle of a pandemic. And what could be tougher than being a child in poverty in a pandemic?
“And another 217,000 of those children live in what we could call “extreme poverty” in the United States. Stock market soaring… children struggling, and no relationship between what’s happening on Wall Street and what’s happening on their streets; it’s our job to make it truewhen I say to them that their parents’ income need not determine their outcome.
“I don’t know about anyone else, but I think these high rates of child poverty are unacceptable in the greatest, richest country on the planet.
“Often we tell our children to stay on the right road to stay out of trouble. And we should; stay focused. But we ought to spread that net of responsibility—the truth is, poverty is its own violence. Poverty is the violence that traumatizes the mind, oppresses the body, and bruises the human spirit.
“And so that’s why the American Rescue Plan is so necessary, so important, so historic…
“And I’m glad Senators Booker, Brown, and Bennet—I feel a little left out, the odd guy out here. I’m glad that we were able to push through in the American Rescue Plan a landmark expansion of two tax credit programs—the Child Tax Credit, and Earned Income Tax Credit…
“…and now, I’m calling on all of my Senate colleagues to join us in making these expansions permanent.
“By increasing the Child Tax Credit, thousands more dollars a year will flow into the pockets of the children and families who need it most—cutting child poverty nationwide in half…
“In Georgia, more than 1 million families with children will benefit from the increased tax refund, and it will lift more than 171,000 Georgia children out of poverty. Those are my neighbors and yours. Those are kids around my church and who attend my church.
“And so I want to be clear—not only were we able to expand the tax refund so that more families are getting more money, but we were able to do so in such a way that families, that it gives families a monthly cash payment, providing greater financial security.
“This is going to be a gamechanger for so many families—especially those that previously did not qualify for the credit when it was just used to offset taxes already owed to the government.Prior to this expansion, we had folk who were too poor to get our help. Something’s wrong about that: too poor to get our help. This expansion corrects that, and now we’re putting those dollars directly in the hands of the families who need it the most…
“And, in the COVID package, we were also able to strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit, nearly tripling the maximum tax refund allowed for qualifying workers…
“…because we have to make sure childless families in our communities also have the support, they need to pay their rent, keep food on the table, and more to keep our communities strong.
“Taken together, expanding and extending these programs is a major move toward eliminating child poverty—and poverty, in general—once and for all in Georgia and all across our country, but it’s still not enough to truly tackle the issue…
“We’ve included this in the American Rescue Plan—now we must make it permanent. As so often is the case, the right thing to do is also the smart thing to do. This will not only help these families; it will help the American economy. I’m just old enough to remember when they started talking about trickle-down economics. I know some communities where they’ve been waiting for decades for that trickle. Hadn’t trickled down; it’s trickling up.
“The right thing to do is often the smart thing to do; when we help these families, it’s actually good economic policy. Because when you help poor families with children, they buy things like food, baby diapers, a coat for their kid—and it helps the American economy. The right thing to do, is the smart thing to do. And if Congress can slash child poverty for one year, why wouldn’t we or shouldn’t we do it once and for all?
“And so, I urge the Senate to stand up and do this work. In this moral moment in America. In just few days I’ll go home, and I’ll stand up and I’ll preach on Easter Sunday morning. And this year, as it turns out, Easter is on April 4th. It is the anniversary of Dr. King’s death.
“And so I’ll be thinking about Dr. King as I preach this coming Easter because Dr. King spent his last birthday January 15, 1968 in his office at our church, among other things, planning the Poor People’s Campaign. Trying to organize us and get us ready to stand up against poverty. He spent his birthday thinking about other people’s children, because he understood that his children would not be okay until other people’s children were okay.
“April 4th is his birthday. April 4th is also Easter this year.
“Let’s make these tax credits permanent, and resurrect hope and possibility and promise for all of America’s children.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”