Below Biden and Romney Stimulus Plans, An Strategy to Assist Households

“We used to think the more complex things are, the more targeted they get,” said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, a Northwest economist who has studied social systems. “We have learned over the past 20 years that the more complex things are, the more likely the worst-off people will drop out.”

If American parents received monthly payments, they would be very aware of them – which could make the programs more popular and politically more enduring. For example, Social Security is very popular right now, although it has progressive features that lower-income Americans prefer. (In particular, Mr Romney’s proposal would distribute child benefit from mid-pregnancy through the Social Security Authority rather than through the tax system.)

In addition, under both plans, many more people would be entitled to the checks than the current child benefit would be. Among them would be the parents of 27 million children (parents who do not earn enough to qualify for the current child tax credit), including the parents of roughly half of all black and Latin American children. It would include rich people too – in Mr. Romney’s scheme, all parents would get the checks and couples making $ 400,000 and more would be expected to repay some or all of them at tax time.

“That would be tangible and tangible, and I think that’s a good thing to make politically sustainable,” said Chuck Marr, senior director of federal tax policy at the Center for Budget and Political Priorities. “Society recognizes that children are expensive.”

Eventually, Biden and Romney’s plans would remove the work requirements associated with most family benefits, making them available to both parents who stayed at home and those who paid for childcare.

At $ 3,000 a year for parents of school-age children, the benefit would not be enough to replace a job. However, it is a confirmation that children need financial support regardless of their parents’ employment status. Mr Romney’s plan underscores that idea by changing one of the main benefits for poor families, the earned income tax credit. Now it mainly supports working, low-income parents, but the new plan would remove child support from the loan and focus primarily on rewarding work, regardless of parenting status.

“This is a real departure, and I think it’s an appreciation that it is not your child’s fault if you are not working and your child is definitely the one who suffers when you have no income,” said Elaine Maag who is studying tax policy and programs for low-income families at the Urban Institute.

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