Democrats in Congress are arguing with each other over whether to pass a massive spending bill, or just a big one. They should listen to the voters, who are leading the way.
A new Morning Consult poll asked voters what they thought of the Democrats’ expanded child tax credit as part of the US Congress bailout passed in March. This law sharply increased credit for most families with children under the age of 18, while also eliminating a work requirement for eligibility. Low-income families who do not pay enough tax to qualify for the full credit amount now get the difference back in the form of a cash payment. And instead of waiting for the next year to claim the benefit, eligible families can now get half the credit in the form of a monthly government check. The Biden administration said the improved right would pay out several thousand dollars to families with 60 million children.
The extension only lasts the rest of the year, and Biden and most Congressional Democrats want to keep it until 2025. It’s an important part of the $ 3.5 trillion spending bill that the politicians are debating. democrats. The idea is that once voters get a taste of the advantage, they’ll want to keep it in place and reward their Democratic benefactors at the voting booth in 2022 and 2024.
But it doesn’t work like that. The Morning Consult poll found that only 50% of registered voters approve of the expanded tax credit, while 38% oppose it and 11% don’t know. It’s a slim majority in favor, but it’s also only half of all voters. Seventy-four percent of Democrats support the expanded tax credit, but only 44% of independents do. This tells you that support for a key Democratic initiative is underwater with centrist voters. Democrats must retain control of both houses of Congress midway through 2022.
Support is even lower to make permanent the more generous benefit, which only 35% of voters support. Fifty-two percent oppose it being permanent, while 13% say they don’t know. Even among Democrats, only 52% believe the change should be permanent.
This is a signpost telling Democrats two things: 1. Come back to the center, and 2. Make sure voters know you are going back to the center.
The Child Tax Credit is a darling of the liberal progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and in a way it resembles “universal basic income” – a fixed amount of government funding for every household, every year. But voters are not ready to widen the safety net so far, so quickly. That’s why Biden won the presidency in 2020, eclipsing liberal Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren with a vision of a pragmatic government staying within limits.
Progressives recently declared victory when they blocked the bipartisan infrastructure deal by demanding massive social spending in return for their votes. But blocking the infrastructure deal doesn’t mean progressives will get what they want. Rather, it can mean that no one gets what they want, and the whole Democratic package crumbles.
Progressives blame a handful of Senate Democrats who will not approve $ 3.5 trillion in new spending over the next decade as if such centrist reluctance is unreasonable. It is rather the reverse. Centrists, including Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have said they may not approve more than $ 2 trillion in new spending. This would add to nearly $ 6 trillion in relief funds for Covid over the past 18 months, plus all regular government spending. Adding up the $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill and total funding above usual levels would add up to something like $ 9 trillion since the start of 2020. This is unprecedented.
Democrats may reduce their ambitions for a permanent extension of the child tax credit, making it more of a down payment than a new permanent right. They could lower the income limit at which the credit is phased out, reduce the amount of the credit itself, or put a limit on the number of children to whom it applies. They could also reduce the effective duration of the expansion, in order to reduce costs.
Reducing the cost of this perk is crucial because it is one of the more expensive programs on the Democrats’ wishlist. A permanent expansion would cost around $ 1.1 trillion over a decade, or more than $ 100 billion per year. That’s almost a third of all new spending that Progressive Democrats demand. Halving that amount, for example, would still be a costly new right, albeit more in line with the spending ceilings Manchin and Sinema are seeking.
Democrats will have to cut many other parts of the Biden plan to bring it within the range of a $ 2 trillion bill that has a chance of being passed by the Senate, where Democrats need every vote . Voters may like parts of the Biden plan, but in many ways they have expressed a preference for a gradual change from the revolution. Democrats can listen now, or they will get the message at the polls in 2022.
Rick Newman is the author of four books, including “Rebounders: How Winners Go From Failure To Success.»Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman. You can also send confidential advice, and click here to receive Rick’s stories by email.
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