President Joe Biden has made no secret of his support for an expanded Child Tax Credit to bolster the finances of U.S. households and keep many from slipping into poverty. Now that a new U.S. Census Bureau study has revealed an increase in the poverty rate last year, Biden has once again brought the issue to the forefront.
The Census Bureau study, released this week, found that the country’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rate rose to 12.4% in 2022, an increase of 4.6 percentage points from the previous year. That marked the first such spike since 2010.
The most glaring stat from the study was that the SPM child poverty rate more than doubled to 12.4% in 2022 from 5.2% in 2021.
The SPM differs from the official poverty rate – which saw little change last year – because it accounts for several government programs that are not included in official poverty calculations. The SPM also accounts for geographic variations in housing costs, as well as federal taxes, state taxes, work expenses and medical expenses.
According to the Census Bureau’s analysis, the increase in SPM poverty last year was the result of “key changes in federal tax policy” – including the expiration of the expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit as well as the end of pandemic-era stimulus payments.
The nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) had a similar take, noting in a Tuesday blog that the “historic rise” in child poverty in 2022 was driven by the expiration of pandemic-era relief programs, including Congress’s decision to allow the expiration of the 2021 Child Tax Credit expansion.
“Renewing the expansion — which President Biden and many in Congress supported — would have kept about 3 million children above the poverty line in 2022, avoiding more than half of the actual rise in child poverty,” the CBPP added.
For his part, Biden said the rise in poverty revealed this week “is no accident,” the Washington Post reported.
In his budget proposal earlier this year, the president wanted to include an enhanced CTC similar to one included in the American Rescue Plan Act, according to a March report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP).
The ITEP called the expanded CTC “an enormous success” in reducing child poverty. But efforts by Biden and other lawmakers to include the expanded CTC in new legislation fell short amid opposition from Republicans and a few Democrats.
It is unclear whether the latest poverty data will do much to bring more Congressional support for an expanded CTC. Even lawmakers who might support such a bill, such as U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), want to tie stricter work requirements to an enhanced Child Tax Credit. Many Democrats oppose such provisions.
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