US Senators Michael Bennet (left) and Mitt Romney (right)
On Sunday, the 15th of December 2019, Republican Senator Mitt Romney and Democrat Senator Michael Bennet presented a plan to establish an unconditional child benefit cash transfer in the United States.
Under this plan, all parents get an unconditional benefit of US$ 1500 per year per child under 6 years pf age, plus US$ 1000 per year for every child aged 6 up to 17. There is still an additional US$ 1000 per year per child, dependent on income.
There is already a Child Tax Credit inscribed into the United States tax code, but it is strictly conditional to employment and is means-tested. Within Romney and Bennet’s new plan, considerable part of the benefit would be independent of the employment status, effectively helping the poorest parents.
This program would be funded through a reform in the federal tax code, within which inherited property would be fully taxed. That would replace the highly regressive nature of the present rules, which exempt wealthy property owners from paying taxes on the full amount of what their property is valued. This way, the new unconditional child benefit cash transfer would effectively transfer money from the very wealthy to poor and working-class American families.
Republican politicians have been, typically and historically, against any measures which expand cash programs for the poor. This initiative by Mitt Romney may lead, however, other Republicans to endorse such programs. Right-wing arguments against such welfare expansions have been mostly related to misspending – as in risks of spending the benefits on cigarettes and alcohol, for instance – or for allegedly discouraging employment, but there is already a solid body of evidence that these risks/fears are unfounded, and that plenty of benefits are to be gained from their implementation, especially in health and economic related realms.
More information at:
Dylan Matthews, “Mitt Romney and Michael Bennet just unveiled a basic income plan for kids“, Vox, December 16th 2019