STATEMENT: The American Family Act Would Help Millions, Says CAP’s Neera Tanden

Washington, D.C. — Today, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D CT), and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) introduced the American Family Act, which would dramatically reduce child poverty by strengthening the Child Tax Credit for all families with children, while creating a new monthly Young Child Tax Credit for families with children younger than age 6 to help parents invest in young children during the critical early years of life. Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, issues the following response:

America should be the best place to raise a child—not the hardest. Unfortunately, amid flat wages and the rising costs of raising a child, for far too many families, what should be a purely joyous event—the birth of a child—becomes a source of economic instability and even hardship. Boosting families’ incomes with a Young Child Tax Credit would help parents meet young children’s needs today while investing in our nation’s next generation and the workforce of tomorrow.

Sen. Bennet also issued a statement:

I’ve met with parents across Colorado who tell me the paychecks they bring home aren’t enough to support their families, especially as the costs of child care, health care, housing, and higher education continue to rise. That’s because 90 percent of Americans haven’t seen a significant raise over the last 40 years. The American Family Act is a big part of how we respond to that problem, which I see as one of the central economic challenges of our time. This bill also addresses a problem we don’t discuss enough—child poverty—by cutting it by 38 percent. I can think of nothing more at war with who we are as Americans than allowing kids to grow up in poverty. I’m hopeful today’s strong show of support will move us closer to signing the American Family Act into law, because for the families we represent, that day can’t come soon enough.

Sen. Brown added:

All across the country, families are working harder than ever but have less and less to show for it. Our bill would help put more money back in the pockets of working families and set children up for future success.

Rep. DeLauro also issued a statement:

The American Family Act will help millions of families across the United States who are striving to provide the best possible future for their children. In fact, according to a new study from the National Academy of Sciences, expanding the Child Tax Credit as we do in this legislation would reduce extreme childhood poverty by half. That is why we must push to pass the American Family Act and ensure that families have the resources they need to pay their bills and get ahead. Increasing the value of the Child Tax Credit, creating the Young Child Tax Credit for families with children under the age of 6, and making both tax credits fully refundable would have a powerful impact on our youngsters’ health, their education, and their future.

Rep. DelBene said:

Too many parents are facing difficult realities as they try to raise a family as stagnating wages, higher housing costs and student loan debt are making it harder for parents to give their children the opportunities they need to succeed. Strengthening the Child Tax Credit is a moral imperative that will help countless families in my district and across the country. By passing the American Family Act, we’ll be providing commonsense tax relief for working families and the middle class, creating a fairer system that allows parents to invest in their children’s future.

Over the past several years, CAP has issued a series of recommendations to strengthen the existing Child Tax Credit, including creating a new monthly Young Child Tax Credit. The availability of a monthly tax credit is particularly important for families struggling to provide for young children, given that urgent expenses such as diapers and baby formula don’t wait for tax time. The introduction of the American Family Act comes as new analysis released by the National Academy of Sciences shows that child poverty costs the U.S. economy as much as $1.1 trillion in lost gross domestic product every year. Meanwhile, research has found that boosting struggling families’ household income has long-lasting benefits: A $3,000 increase in annual family income for low-income children under age 5 translates into a 17 percent average earnings increase in adulthood.

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For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick  or 202-495-3682.