The Intra-Conservative Debate over the Child Tax Credit

There is a bipartisan bill proposed by Mitt Romney and Michael Bennet being billed as “basic income plan for kids.” Here is Vox coverage, but I also found interesting this National Review article by Robert Verbruggen outlining the broader debate over its merits merits of the child tax credit. To summarize the debate over the child tax credit:

  1. Traditional economic conservatives see it as an overstep of government, and think it should be abandoned.
  2. More status-quo conservatives want it retained, particularly as long as it is partially refunded to resemble a tax break instead of welfare.
  3. Less status-quo oriented conservatives want it made to be fully refundable and paid for by consolidating other welfare spending, particularly those that generate “benefit cliff’s.”
  4. Others want it made it fully refundable, as it is a pro-family enabling device, and lay some blame on FDR for the reason the US doesn’t already have this.

The second point contained this idea, which was one I had not heard before:

It used to be that parents would pay to raise children and then reap the rewards when their kids cared for them in old age; now, thanks to Social Security and Medicare, parents still pay to raise kids, but in retirement they rely collectively on the income of the next generation. We’ve socialized the benefits of having children but not the costs, and the child credit helps to compensate parents for some of the costs. Put bluntly, raising children should count as a tax payment, and should be subtracted from the taxes parents otherwise owe.

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