This is the Week to Make Children’s Lives GreatFederal Budget Health Poverty & Family Economics Tax Policy
It’s shaping up to be an action-packed week in Washington, DC as the White House scrambles with Congressional leaders to pass a signature piece of legislation before Saturday, which marks the symbolic milestone of 100 days in office for President Trump.
Will they propose comprehensive tax reform? What about a second attempt at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? On top of those challenges, lawmakers also need to find a way to keep the government in business past Friday, when current funding expires.
TAX REFORM: Help Children and Families
If and when a tax bill is introduced, we hope it will include improvements to family tax credits. It’s well known that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Children’s Tax Credit (CTC) result in tangible benefits to families with children, including improved maternal and infant health, higher test scores and academic achievement for students in elementary and middle school, and a greater likelihood of attending college and earning more money as an adult.
There is no shortage of good ideas to boost the standard of living for children and families using the tax code. With our allies in the US Child Poverty Action Group, First Focus published a blueprint, called, Family Tax Policy: A Path of Lifting Children out of Poverty. Check it out.
HEALTH REFORM: Do No Harm to Kids
If another bill to reform and replace the ACA comes up, we hope it won’t include the earlier legislation’s calamitous cuts to Medicaid, which 38 million American children rely on for access to health care. Medicaid is an essential lifeline for one-third of our nation’s children.
And if lawmakers and the White House are serious about helping children and families lift themselves out poverty, they should pass a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) before the July 4th recess. CHIP is an enormously successful bipartisan program that covers 8.9 million kids and, since its inception in 1997, has reduced the number of uninsured children by an astounding 68 percent. Congress should make a commitment to “do no harm” to children and not backtrack on all the progress that has been made over the last two decades.
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN HURTS KIDS
Of course, a government shutdown would have a big impact on the nation’s children, especially those in low-income families where many parents work multiple jobs a week. Congress should do its job and find a way to keep the doors of government open.
In short, this could be a monumental legislative week on Capitol Hill. While First Focus and other groups are urging lawmakers to protect and defend the critical, successful programs that help millions of American children and families, we also urge them to consider opportunities for playing offense and taking the initiative to make life better for millions of children and families.
Now is as good a time as any for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground and fund proven, cost-effective, and innovative programs that help the smallest, but most valuable members of our society: children.