Category Archives: Child Tax Credit

Call Elected Leaders to Advocate for Social Justice

Action Alert: Call Your House Representative

Tell them to pass the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024!
January 17, 2024

Hardworking families need your help right NOW. Call 1-888-738-3058 today and urge Congress to pass the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 (H.R.7024). Republicans and Democrats worked together on this important legislation that would increase the tax credit for hardworking parents who’s low income keeps them in poverty, struggling to make ends meet as they.

The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 (H.R.7024) will make meaningful progress toward the goal of ending child poverty. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a half-million kids will be lifted out of poverty and about 5 million more will be less poor. Hardworking families need this tax credit! The bipartisan proposal to expand the CTC was led by Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (Oregon) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (Missouri-08). NETWORK calls for its urgent passage. We need your help to get it passed!

How can you help? Call your Representative today to help get the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 (H.R.7024) passed?


CALL NOW! Tell Your Representative:
Pass the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024!

*Dial 1-888-738-3058 to reach your member of Congress.
____________________________

When you call, here’s what you might say:

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] from [YOUR TOWN]. I want to let [REPRESENTATIVE’s NAME] know that our country needs to reduce child poverty–which has doubled since 2022. That’s why I support the bipartisan-supported Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 (H.R.7024). As a NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice advocate, I believe it is immoral for children to go without meals, medical care, housing, and other vital needs. This CTC proposal will give lower-income parents the money they need to properly provide for their families.

Expanding the CTC to more families is more important now than ever. For people in my community, in our state, and across the country, wages don’t cover the high cost of monthly bills, like groceries and childcare. And hardships like this add up–pushing far too many people into poverty. This is not the time for politics as usual. Congress must work together. Will [REPRESENTATIVE’S NAME] work with their colleagues to pass the bipartisan CTC bill immediately?


More about the proposed expanded Child Tax Credit bill

Although it is not as generous as the tax credit in the American Rescue Plan Act, this proposal will provide full CTC benefits to approximately 16 million children who are currently deprived of CTC resources solely because their families do not earn enough money. More than 20 percent, or one in five children, will benefit from this tax credit. 

Under the current law, 19 million children are ineligible for full CTC benefits, solely because their families do not make enough money. The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 expands the tax credit to include nearly 16 million more children of parents who make lower incomes. While the monthly checks that NETWORK supporters advocated for are not included, this is a meaningful CTC expansion. More than one in five children would benefit.

Advent 2023 Week 3 Calls Us to Bring Rejoicing

This Advent Calls us to Bring Rejoicing

Jarrett Smith
December 12, 2023

Readings for the Third Sunday of Advent, December 17.

Is 61:1-2A, 10-11
Lk 1:46-48, 19-50, 53-54
1 Thes 5:16-24
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

The readings on the Third Sunday of Advent are meant to be a time of rejoicing and gladness amidst solemn anticipation. This spirit could readily apply to expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The prophet Isaiah speaks of God bringing glad tidings to people in poverty, healing the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty, and giving freedom to imprisoned people. A “year of favor” is one way to describe the year that Congress passed the expanded CTC and lifted a record number of children out of poverty. Across the U.S. millions of families were able to flourish where they had previously been held back or held down by lack of basic resources. This was a resounding victory for justice-seekers who envision a world in which all people have what they need.

Read NETWORK’s Advent 2023 reflections here!

When Congress allowed the expanded CTC to expire at the end of 2021, child poverty rose from 5.2 percent in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022. This hit Black, Brown, and Indigenous families especially hard, and this staggering setback was about one thing: the choices of Congress.

It is reckless policy, and morally repugnant, to extend tax breaks to corporations without also enacting robust expansion of the CTC. Congress must pass a Child Tax Credit that allows the 19 million who do not qualify for the entire credit to get the entire credit phased in faster. And it must apply to all children in the household.

In recent years, NETWORK has sought to tell this story and spread it far and wide. In doing so, we have centered two justice-seekers — Fr. Bryan Massingale and Dr. Robert P. Jones — whose voices cry out in the desert of white supremacy as it manifests itself in U.S. Christianity. In October, we hosted the third of our White Supremacy and American Christianity dialogues with them, this time focusing on how “a consistent ethic of hate threatens our democracy.”

Read NETWORK’s Advent 2023 reflections here!

For people of faith, especially Christians, it should be especially clear that a policy that helps so many children out of poverty should receive enthusiastic support and not be allowed to expire. In the Gospel this Sunday, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as “one among you who you do not recognize.” Similar to the judgment account in Matthew 25, we so often fail in our policy choices to recognize Jesus in those who are marginalized and harmed.

As we look to the Third Sunday of Advent, the church also celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. This feast celebrates the love that Our Lady has for all of her children. What better way to translate that love into concrete action in the world than for Congress to pass a CTC that supports the most vulnerable?

Call to Action:

Send a message to your Members of Congress. Tell them to pass a fully refundable, monthly Child Tax Credit so all of us have what we need to take care of ourselves, and our families.

Take Action After Watching White Supremacy in American Christianity

White Supremacy and American Christianity, Part 3

Reflection and Discussion Guide

Bring the content shared in the White Supremacy and American Christianity event into your everyday life.

White Supremacy and American Christianity, Part 2

In October 2022, ethics professor Fr. Bryan N. Massingale and author Robert P. Jones participated in an enlightening conversation ahead of this year’s midterm for an exploration on the influence of  White Supremacy in American Christianity on our politics. The conversation was moderated by NETWORK’s Joan F. Neal.

White Supremacy and American Christianity, Part 1

In April 2022, NETWORK engaged experts working at the intersection of racism, nationalism, and Christianity for a conversation on the poisonous effect that White Supremacy has on American Christianity. Fr. Bryan N. Massingale, Dr. Robert P. Jones, and NETWORK’s Deputy Executive Director and Chief Equity Officer Joan F. Neal were joined by Georgetown University’s Dr. Marcia Chatelain.

Tell Your Senators: Reinstate the expanded Child Tax Credit!

No child should miss a meal because their family is struggling to make ends meet.

What is White Christian Nationalism?

NETWORK partner, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC), released a joint project with the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) detailing Christian nationalism’s prominence in the January 6 insurrection. In it, Amanda Taylor of BJC shares, “Christian nationalism is a political ideology and cultural framework that seeks to merge American and Christian identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s constitutional democracy. Christian nationalism relies on the mythological founding of the United States as a ‘Christian nation,’ singled out for God’s providence in order to fulfill God’s purposes on earth. Christian nationalism demands a privileged place for Christianity in public life, buttressed by the active support of government at all levels.

Christian nationalism is not Christianity, though it is not accurate to say that Christian nationalism has nothing to do with Christianity. Christian nationalism relies on Christian imagery and language.”

White Supremacy and American Christianity Guest Speakers

Darcy Hirsh is the Senior Director of Policy & Advocacy at Interfaith Alliance, (Part 3) where she leads the organization’s policy work at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as its critical advocacy in the courts.

Dr. Robert P. Jones is the President and Founder of PRRI, and author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity. Robert P. Jones speaks and writes regularly on politics, culture, and religion in national media outlets including CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others. Dr. Robert Jones’s latest book is a New York Times best-seller. You can buy it here: The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and the Path to a Shared American Future and follow Dr. Jones through his newsletter at https://www.whitetoolong.net/.

Fr. Bryan Massingale is the James and Nancy Buckman Professor of Theological and Social Ethics, as well as the Senior Ethics Fellow in Fordham’s Center for Ethics Education and author of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church. Fr. Massingale is a noted authority on social and racial justice issues, particularly in Catholic spaces. Read Fr. Massingale’s Op-Ed in National Catholic Reporter, “As the election cycle cranks up, Christians need to call out white Christian nationalism” and his keynote address at the 2022 Outreach Conference: “Intersectionality and LGBTQ Ministry”

Professor Marcia Chatelain, Ph.D., is the winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History (Part 1) her book Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America. She is a professor of history and African American studies at Georgetown University and the leading organizer behind the #FergusonSyllabus, an online educational resource that has shaped educational conversations about racism and police brutality since 2014. 

You've Seen the Conversation, Now What Can You Do?

Note: These were actions to take after White Supremacy and American Christianity, Part 2 in Fall 2022.

Pray for Reparations during Black History Month 2023

A federal reparations commission must be established by March 2023 to allow 18 months of work (as prescribed in H.R.40) to be completed without risk of a new administration disbanding it. We must pray!

In November 2022, Jewish and Christian faith leaders gave spirited calls for reparations to finally repair the harm that racist policy and laws unleashed during and after slavery. Storytellers from the field shared why their communities deserve redress for education, homes, and more loss because of racist government action.

Learn why reparations are needed now. NETWORK staff and keynote speaker, Rev. Jacqui Lewis, Ph.D, tell us the history of H.R.40, give us Christianity’s faith foundation for reparations, and help us learn to talk to friends and family about race and reparations. Reparations can heal the economic prosperity divide and lingering pain from Jim Crow, disenfranchisement, discrimination in tax policy, biased home lending, restrictive covenants and more.

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Just Politics Catholic Podcast Season 2

Build Anew Series – Tax Justice

Build Anew Series — Part 5
Tax Justice

Virginia Schilder
October 20, 2023
Welcome back to our Build Anew Series, with weekly posts covering the people, policies, and values at the heart of the issues we work on. This week, we’re talking about tax justice, and specifically, the need to bring back the expanded Child Tax Credit.   

 

It’s budget time in Congress, and many of our representatives are pretending that we have a scarcity of funds with which to fund our government. But that’s patently untrue. There is a simple reality: If the wealthiest Americans and corporations paid their fair share of taxes, we would have more than enough to pay for all the public programs our communities not only need, but deserve. To visualize this, I invite you to try out NETWORK’s tax justice calculator tool, in which you can build your own federal budget with programs you care about and see how equitable tax policies can fund them. The United States has one of the greatest — and

most dangerous — degrees of wealth inequality in the world. The concentration of wealth into the hands of an ultra-wealthy few is facilitated and maintained, in large part, by our tax system. For example, consider Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s Founder and Executive Chairman, who enjoys a net worth of $155 billion, but did not pay a single cent in federal income taxes in 2007 or 2011.

A just tax system is a foundation of a just society, and a multi-faith, multi. In our past Build Anew Series piece on Economic Justice, we talked about how we as a collective have enough resources to ensure that everyone has what they need to thrive — it is only a matter of distributing those resources justly. Taxes can help us do that.

Congress now has less than 30 days to pass a FY24 federal budget. As part of NETWORK’s Congress, Keep Your Promise! Campaign, we’ve been urging our leaders to ensure that vital human needs programs like food, housing, and health care assistance are fully funded in the budget, and that the necessary policies are enacted to ensure that the wealthiest individuals and corporations contribute their fair shares.

A central part of a just tax system in the current budget process is the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC). An expanded CTC combats child poverty, supporting families as they provide necessary care and resources for their children. The expired, temporary expanded CTC in 2021 (the American Rescue Plan increased the child tax credit for one year) was a resounding success. The child poverty rate was dramatically reduced to a record low 5.2%. It kept roughly 2.1 million children above the poverty line ― including an estimated 752,000 Latino children, 649,000 white children, 524,000 Black children, 89,000 American Indian and Alaska Native children, and 56,000 Asian children ― and lessened differences in poverty rates between children of all races and ethnicities (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities). Our children need it back!

In this week’s installment of the Build Anew Series, we’ll learn more about the CTC and the urgency of strengthening it in the ongoing appropriations process. First, let’s learn more about tax policy in the U.S., and why a just tax system is critical for a ju st nation.

Facts and Figures on Taxes in the U.S.
  • Refundable tax credits moved 7.5 million people out of poverty in 2019, according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure.
  • A 2019 Congressional Research Service report calculated that the 2017 Tax Revision law reduced federal revenue by about $170 billion in FY 2018, with corporations benefiting most from the tax cuts.
  • According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the wealthiest 1% of Americans may be evading as much as $163 billion in income taxes each year — many doing so legally via our unjust tax laws.
Present Realities

Our unjust tax code is directly related to the economic instability experienced by individuals and families across the U.S., and it affects the wellbeing of our country overall. Taxes enable us to have the public services we all want and benefit from, and to make the investments in people and neighborhoods that are needed for our communities to thrive. If we want good schools and accessible higher education, safe and efficient transportation infrastructure, a strong health care system, and healthy communities with affordable housing, clean water, and food security, we need to collectively contribute to funding them.

Decades of tax cuts for the wealthiest people and corporations have harmed our communities. Our tax code actively creates economic inequality — one of the most pressing problems in the United States. Our tax code treats income from capital more favorably than income from labor, which means that those at the very top — whose income largely relies on investments rather than work — end up paying a lower effective rate. This tax structure enables the wealthiest people and corporations to pay little to no taxes at all, hoarding resources that they gained off the labor of everyone else. The 2017 Republican Tax Law benefitted corporations by substantially lowering effective corporate tax rates and by generating a flood of stock buybacks and dividends for corporate shareholders. Meanwhile, the law reduced federal revenue by about $170 billion in FY 2018.

Most nefariously, our tax system maintains the racial wealth gap. In 2016, the median income of white households was $117,000, while Black households had only $17,000. This vast racial inequity is not incidental, but is a direct result of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, Jim Crow, and centuries of racist federal policies — particularly policies that shaped our tax code. Our tax system continues today to maintain the wealth of the white ruling class. For example, our tax code privileges white couples in the structure of the married joint filing bonus; it rewards how wealthier white folks spend money (with tax incentives for buying a home, but not renting); and it facilitates the largely un-taxed intergenerational transfer of wealth in white families across history. The outcome is what we see today: our nation’s wealth concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority of white folks.

Tax justice means ensuring that wealthy individuals and corporations contribute a fair share, so that we can support the public services that help our communities to thrive. It hurts everyone in our country when we have insufficient funding for public programs, assistance for families experiencing homelessness or hunger, or the infrastructure we all rely on every day. A just system of taxation recognizes that we are one community with responsibilities to one another, and our wellbeing is tied together.

Learn more at NETWORK’s Tax Justice For All page.  

Our Values

“The obligations of justice and love are fulfilled only if each person, contributing to the common good, according to his own abilities and the needs of others, also promotes and assists the public and private institutions dedicated to bettering the conditions of human life.” —Gaudium et spes

One of the key principles of Catholic Social Justice Teaching is, “Rise above individualism for the good of the whole community.” This means rejecting an ethic that places individual gain above collective flourishing, and instead taking seriously our call and responsibility to promote the wellbeing of our neighbors. Taxes are a key way in which we can do this.

A just tax structure affirms the moral responsibility of each person to contribute to the community according to their ability. Material prosperity never arises in a vacuum. The resources that wealthy individuals and corporations have accumulated are generated by the labor of workers and supported by social goods like roads, bridges, schools, and fire departments that we collectively fund. Therefore, paying taxes is a serious ethical responsibility for those with abundance. It is also the responsibility of governments to use tax dollars in ways that meet the real needs and goals of our communities.

A just tax code can be a structure through which the values of sharing, reciprocity, and participation are lived out. These values were modeled by the community of Jesus’ early followers, of whom it is written:

“No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had… And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” —Acts 4:32-35

As a community, the apostles model the Catholic notion of “the universal destination of goods:” the deep conviction that resources are to be shared — used to respond to need and to better the community. Scripture emphasizes the moral responsibility for those with means to share: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:10-11). Yet, it is important to remember that in today’s society, in which unjust economic structures enable the accumulation of wealth often through the exploitation of workers, paying taxes is not just a matter of charity and sharing. Rather, it is a matter of justice — returning to communities what has been unjustly extracted.

This is why a just tax code is a moral obligation. Tax structures can serve to widen the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us, or they can work as a mechanism of justice. In the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral Economic Justice for All, the bishops insist that, “The tax system should be continually evaluated in terms of its impact on the poor.” This also means that families below the poverty line should not bear the burden of paying income taxes. Pope John XXIII put it plainly: “In a system of taxation based on justice and equity it is fundamental that the burdens be proportioned to the capacity of the people contributing.”

The Catholic tradition teaches that paying taxes is part of one’s responsibility to contribute to the common good. We are called to equitably share resources so that each person has what they need to live well, and that our society as a whole has the structures and programs that help all of our communities flourish.

The Child Tax Credit

Advocates and faith leaders in West Virginia gather in May 2022 to call for a continuation of the expanded child tax credit.

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) was enacted in 1997 and currently provides a tax credit of up to $2,000 per child. Studies overwhelmingly demonstrate that the CTC directly reduces child and family poverty. In 2018, the CTC lifted 4.3 million people, including 2.3 million children, out of poverty. However, the current CTC law provides the greatest benefits to higher income families, in effect penalizing the lowest wage workers in our communities.

In 2021, as part of the American Rescue Plan, the CTC was increased to up to $3000, and penalties on low-income families were removed. This expansion finally allowed all families to benefit from the full CTC, regardless of their income. The 2021 expansion was an incredible success: it extended the CTC to the families of 27 million children who previously did not have access, and it reduced the national child poverty rate from an anticipated 8.1% down to 5.2%(!).

Lived Experience

Nakkita Long is a mom in Winston-Salem, NC with a master’s degree in criminal justice. She shares,

This past year (2020) has been devastating for my family in ways that I cant even explain…. Giving $300 to families may not seem like a lot, but when you’re working minimum wage or you’re underpaid, it’s everything. It’s the difference between where you live, what you eat, and how your family enjoys leisure.   

For my family, the child tax credit has benefited me because my daughter started college in the middle of the pandemic, and my son is starting kindergarten. I was able to buy my daughter a laptop so she could do her studies at home. I was able to do things with my family that I wasn’t able to do before because my income was low, I was living paycheck to paycheck. 

Look at the cost of living, and look at what people actually need to sustain themselves on a daily basis. For my family, just the basic needs of bread, lights, water, having a car to get back and forth to work, have been a challenge for me. And the benefits of incentives such as the child tax credit, extended unemployment, free child care, free college, is astounding, and it takes my family to a different place as far as what we can do successfully and how we can grow. It’s important to understand that giving people what they deserve… empowers those families to build businesses, become homeowners, invest in their communities, attend great schools, become great leaders, and do great things in society.”  

From the Domestic Human Needs Story Bank

Despite this success, Congress decided to allow the 2021 CTC expansion to expire – with detrimental impact to our most vulnerable children. Child poverty has risen, and an estimated 19 million children are deprived of all or part of the CTC simply because of their families’ low wages. This has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Brown families, affecting approximately 45% of Black children and 39% of Latine children. It has also hurt rural communities, as 33% of children in rural areas have been negatively impacted by the expiration of the CTC expansion.

This is why we need to bring back the expanded CTC. A strong CTC helps provide essential resources for child care and other support services, and thus enables parents to work. It also promotes healthy children, as lifting children out of poverty is directly related to improved health and education outcomes. We know how well the expanded CTC works! To support flourishing families and protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of society, Congress must expand the CTC to its 2021 levels. Our children need and deserve it.

Click here to learn about how you can take action to demand that Congress enact a strong, expanded Child Tax Credit. And to learn more about the CTC, check out NETWORK’s CTC leave-behind.

Join us again next week for part 6 of the Build Anew Series on democracy, a follow-up to the third installation of our White Supremacy and American Christianity series this Saturday. And don’t forget to stay tuned on Instagram (@network_lobby) and Facebook for our Build Anew video series!

Take Action: Congress Keep Your Promise

TAKE ACTION: CALL, SEND MESSAGES, WRITE LTE'S

Congress passed a budget this spring to avoid the debt ceiling crisis. So, why are we back here again–at a budget impasse that threatens jobs, food and housing security, and to separate families at the southern border?

Justice-seekers across race, place, and faiths can make a difference when they tell their community that Congress, Keep Your Promise! See below to Call, email, and Tweet the House. Write a Letter to the Editor (LTE) to do just that!

How to Write an LTE

Write a Budget LTE

Call the House

Send email and a Tweet, too!

Call Your Member of the House NOW: 888-897-9753! 
Tell them to pass a budget that includes funding for human needs programs and protects immigrant families. When you call, here’s what you might say:

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] from [YOUR TOWN]. I want to let [REPRESENTATIVE’S NAME] know that while the shutdown crisis is over for the next few weeks, I am still concerned that the House is still proposing cuts to vital programs that will put millions out of work, hurt small businesses, and make life harder for people already struggling to make ends meet.”

Many people in my community face food and housing insecurity, high child care costs, and other hardships that make it hard to thrive without assistance. [Definitely share your own experiences and/or add local/state data here!] We cannot have a shutdown in November!

[REPRESENTATIVE’S NAME], can I count on you to work to pass a clean bipartisan continuing resolution that prioritizes funding for human needs and rejects any and all anti-immigrant proposals?

After you call, send a tweet, too! Use the form below to direct a tweet to Congress.

Resources to support your advocacy

Congress, Keep Your Promise Webinar
Webinar Q & A

During the webinar, questions were asked that we were unable to answer at that time. See them, and their answers, below.

With only 11 days until the shutdown, what is the best way justice-seekers can help?
Moderate House Republicans are the key to moving forward. If your House Representative leans moderate, give them a call and encourage them to pass a budget that funds programs that support our communities – to keep the promise they made when they voted for the bill that raised the debt ceiling. 

You can also raise the public profile of this issue by writing a letter to the editor of your local paper. See our guidance for LTE writers (including a video and training slides).

Can you give us a link to the Child Tax Credit study? 
The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University has a number of great publications on the Child Tax Credit. You can access them here. 

Can you please say more about the work-reporting requirements and how/whom they serve or disadvantage?
For more information about work-reporting requirements, check out our one-pager here. 

What do states lose if they opt-out of the SNAP lifetime ban re: drug felons?
SNAP is an entitlement program, which means that there’s automatic funding for everyone eligible. There is no cost to states for waiving the ban.  

Blogs
NETWORK Advocates Share CTC Testimonials

Many families with young children that I know, including my own, live paycheck-to-paycheck, and the significant inflation that we are facing has caused many of us to deplete our savings and increasingly rely on credit cards to get us through the month. With interest rates as high as they currently are, this is digging us into a deeper financial hole. An expansion of the Child Tax Credit could help us avoid using credit at a time when financial experts advise us to do so.Natalie M., Shaker Heights, OH

“[The CTC] will allow my children the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities and expose them to new experiences and friends, promoting the growth of their whole self.” Ivelisse C., Cleveland OH

“I have nieces in Ohio who are struggling to make ends meet to feed and clothe their children and also to afford daycare so they can get a job. The Child Tax Credit helped them before and it can help them again!” Sr. Joyce K., CPPS, Dayton, OH

“Several of my church families along with others in the community are struggling to make ends meet and to provide for their children. Some are looking at the loss of homes and eviction. The expanded Child Tax Credit will help to minimize theses effects of inflation and low paying work situations.” Rev. Karen B., Jeffersonville, IN

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Past Actions

A Moral Budget Will Cultivate Thriving Communities

A Moral Budget Will Bring Thriving Communities

JoAnn Goedert, Ignatian Volunteer Corp Member
Government Relations Special Contributor
April 5, 2023

Our federal budget can reveal the respect and care we have for each other. As Mary Novak, NETWORK Lobby’s Executive Director, reminds us, “Budgets are moral documents; how we tax and how we spend reveals a set of moral choices.” President Biden has delivered a hopeful and optimistic vision for the country in his Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Budget. With few exceptions, President Biden’s budget embodies moral choices, and sets legislative goals, that can advance NETWORK’s Build Anew agenda. A moral budget will cultivate thriving communities nationwide. 

Build Anew can bring us to an inclusive, multiracial, and multi-faith democracy. The transformative policy agenda envisions basic economic security, education, criminal justice, health care, and more — for everyone, no exceptions. Build Anew calls for all of us to have the freedoms and resources we need to live thriving lives. This requires policies and programs that ensure the wages and work conditions that American workers need to pay their bills, enjoy family life, and retire with dignity. Too often, wealthy corporations choose not to pay workers for the true value of their work and refuse to pay our country what they truly owe in taxes. In his budget, President Biden commits to offer workers and their families the tools they need to thrive and to finally make wealthy people and corporations pay what they truly owe through taxes. 

Read on to see where NETWORK’s Build Anew policy agenda is present in President Biden’s budget to see why we are confident a moral budget will bring thriving communities

CRITICAL INVESTMENTS IN FAMILIES, CHILDREN, AND COMMUNITIES 

President Biden’s budget boldly includes critical human investments that the NETWORK community has long advocated to help individuals, families, and children achieve economic security and thrive.   

Expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) 

Millions of families were struggling to make ends meet  when the American Rescue Plan was passed and expanded the CTC, allowing millions of parents to achieve financial stability and care for their children. That provision alone cut child poverty in half in 2021, to the lowest level in history. The expanded CTC: 1) increased benefit levels, particularly for young children; 2) expanded access to reach children in families with the lowest incomes who were formerlyleft out; and 3) paid benefits in monthly installments.   

The expanded CTC has expired, and bringing it back is a moral and an economic imperative NETWORK is heartened to see that it is a key element in the Biden Budget.  

Permanently Expands the Earned Income Tax Credit 

The FY24 budget also calls on Congress to permanently expand the EITC for childless workers. The expanded EITC was part of the American Rescue Plan and has expired. This provision helped younger workers and older workers without children and who did not previously qualify for the credit to emerge from poverty. The expansions ensured no low-wage workers were taxed into poverty. Permanently expanding the EITC and the improvements in the Child Tax Credit are two priorities this year.  

Paid Family and Sick Leave 

President Biden’s budget proposes a national paid family and medical leave program that would at last provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for workers.  The budget also calls on Congress to pass legislation requiring employers to provide seven paid sick days to all workers. 

IMPROVED ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE

The president’s budget includes a range of proposals to improve access to high-quality, affordable health care, some of which have been integral elements of the Build Anew agenda:

Funding to Improve Black Maternal Health

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, and rates are disproportionately high for Black women. A Black maternal health crisis has left black women three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women. It doesn’t have to be this way–more than half of these deaths are preventable! We know what we need to do so that more Black mothers and their babies can thrive. The 2021 Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act offered a comprehensive roadmap for addressing the racial inequities that underlie this health crisis. NETWORK lobbied vigorously for this bill, but it failed to pass in the last Congress. We are pleased to see that the president’s FY24 budget includes $471 million to expand maternal health initiatives and requires all states to provide continuous Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum, eliminating gaps in health insurance at a critical time.

Permanent Affordable Care Act (ACA) Premium Reductions and Expansion to Medicaid

The budget builds on the remarkable success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), by making permanent the average $800 per year premium cuts through expanded premium tax credits that the Inflation Reduction Act extended. It also provides Medicaid-like coverage to individuals in states that have not adopted Medicaid expansion under the ACA, paired with financial incentives to ensure states maintain their existing expansions.

The FY24 budget invests $150 billion over 10 years to improve and expand Medicaid’s home and community-based services which would allow older Americans and individuals with disabilities to remain in their homes and stay active in their communities as well as improve the quality of jobs for home care workers.

The budget also shores up funding for community health centers—which provide comprehensive services regardless of ability to pay, and which serve one in three people living in poverty and one in five rural residents.

Reduced Prescription Drug Costs

The budget calls for strengthening the newly established drug negotiation power in Medicare by extending it to more drugs and bringing drugs into negotiation sooner after they launch.  And there’s a proposal to limit Medicare Part D cost-sharing for high-value generic drugs used for certain chronic conditions like hypertension and high cholesterol to no more than $2.

Saving Medicare for the Future

President Biden’s budget will ensure Medicare is fully funded until at least 2050. It does this by increasing the Medicare tax rate on investment income above $400,000 to 5% from 3.8%, by closing a tax loophole that lets some wealthy business owners avoid this tax, and by expanding Medicare’s ability to negotiate prescription drug prices. Not a penny in benefits will be cut.

EXPANDED ACCESS TO FOOD, HOUSING, AND EDUCATION FOR MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES

The Build Anew agenda recognizes that, before marginalized individuals, families and communities can thrive, adequate food, housing, and educational opportunities are essential. The FY24 budget shares that recognition and proposes important steps to expand access in these critical areas:

Full Funding of Maternal and Child Nutrition Programs

The Biden Budget includes $6.3 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and provides over $15 billion for States and local schools to expand free school meals to an additional 9 million children.

Housing

The Budget includes $59 billion in mandatory funding and tax incentives to incentivize local governments to address the critical shortage of affordable housing in communities throughout the country. By expanding the supply of housing, the budget would help curb cost growth across the broader housing market.

In the budget, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program expands the current capacity of 2.3 million low-income families with rental assistance to obtain housing in the private market. The budget provides $32.7 billion to maintain services for all currently assisted families and expand assistance to an additional 50,000 households, particularly those who are experiencing homelessness or fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, or other forms of gender-based violence.

Protecting Foster Care Kids and Veterans

To further ensure that more households have access to safe and affordable housing, the budget includes mandatory funding to support two populations that are particularly vulnerable to homelessness—youth aging out of foster care and extremely low-income (ELI) veterans. The budget provides $9 billion to establish a housing voucher program for the  20,000 youth aging out of foster care annually and $13 billion to incrementally expand rental assistance for 450,000 ELI veteran families, paving a path to guaranteed assistance for all who have served the Nation and are in need.

Improved Access to Education for Low Income Students

The budget increases Title I funding to schools in low-income communities by $2.2 billion and increases Pell Grants by $500. It also offers funding to expand free community college and two years of subsidized tuition to low- and middle-income students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.

Funding for Workforce Training for Good Jobs

The Biden budget proposes an investment of over $600 million in training programs, especially for workers of color, women, and those living in rural areas, targeted at good-paying jobs in high demand industries and professions.

PROTECTING DEMOCRACY AND THE FREEDOM TO VOTE

As NETWORK advocates for the common good, we know that economics alone will not assure that communities, families, and children can flourish. At the foundation of the Build Anew Agenda is the understanding that all of us, regardless of our race or class, must have a secure right to vote and to be safe in our homes and communities, and to thrive with dignity.

Democracy

The assault on our democracy continues with former President Trump’s “Big Lie” about 2020 election results continuing to manifest itself in the degradation of confidence in and security of our elections processes. NETWORK is pleased to see that the budget proposes $5 billion in new election administration and Civil Rights Division oversight funding to be allocated over 10 years. This investment would assure that poll workers and elections authorities have the proper resources to aid in strengthening election integrity and security until Congress can pass robust voting rights and election security legislations, like the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Criminal Justice Advancement

Unfortunately, the budget seeks to revive ineffective 1990s policies by calling for the funding of 100,000 new police officers among other unbridled funding without specific accountability measures. Yet, we are thankful for the $5 billion over 10 years for community violence interventions, $409 billion allotted for key investments furthering First Step Act implementation, and the Board of Prisons and Department of Labor collaboration for training and other programs for citizens returning from federal prisons. Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities across our country continue to be plagued by police abuse and violence. Too often, interactions with law enforcement result in harm or death–often when the victim is unarmed or running away. The deaths of George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Tyre Nichols, Breonna Taylor and many others murder because of racial violence in God’s beloved community, must be mitigated by evidence-informed interventions to keep all people safe and reduce our reliance on the criminal-legal system. Data-driven community policing and safety solutions must be codified into federal law by Congress.

MAKING THE WEALTHY PAY WHAT THEY OWE

All of us agree that contributions made into our shared economy should be equitable. For too long, politicians have allowed wealthy people and businesses to pay less than what they owe in taxes, and at the same time, they’ve shamed people working low wage jobs for being a drain on the United States. When billionaires enjoy relatively no tax burden, but middle-class and working-class Americans pay what they owe into our shared economy, that is the true drain on taxpayers – that is economic injustice!

The Biden budget includes calls for the wealthiest U.S. individuals and corporations to finally pay their fair share, while ensuring that no on making less than $400,000 a year will pay more in taxes. In a series of proposals, the budget would institute a minimum tax on billionaires, raise the corporate tax rate and end offshore tax breaks, repeal the Trump tax cuts that provides windfalls to the top one percent, and cut wasteful federal spending on Big Oil, Big Pharma and other wealthy special interests.  This stands in sharp contrast to MAGA Republicans in the House and Senate that have proposed to slap a 30% national sales tax on everything Americans buy, from groceries to healthcare to cars.

Biden’s budget also prioritizes tax enforcement resources to keep watch on rich and corporate tax cheats. To be clear, those who shirk their responsibility to our shared economy by evading hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes they owe every year. Republicans have voted to slash that funding to give rich tax cheaters a free ride. The resulting loss of revenue will actually increase the deficit by more than $100 billion.

NETWORK CAUTIONS AGAINST UNWARRANTED SPENDING

Unfortunately, the FY24 budget proposes increases in wasteful military spending, as well as additional funding on immigration enforcement, expanding militarization of the border that offers no solution to the situation there and can only compound the suffering of migrants seeking a safer, better life in the U.S.

Such measures fly in the face of both the Biden Administration stated vision for our country and NETWORK’s Build Anew agenda.

THE OPPOSITION TO BIDEN’S BUDGET  

Following President Biden’s State of the Union speech in February 2023, the House Budget Committee was quick to announce a series of drastic cuts to fundamental economic security programs that provide a lifeline for our families, children, and marginalized communities.  The GOP proposal would target basic food assistance, including SNAP, affordable health care, student loans, migrant legal services, and projects that protect the environment and reduce the impact of climate change. In the name of deficit reduction, these proposals may well make the thriving lives that Build Anew calls for an impossibility.

Not surprisingly, the MAGA Republicans reacted to the Biden budget with words of contempt, a vow to prevent its enactment, and redoubled calls for deep cuts to essential poverty prevention programs and environmental protections.  At the same time, they have begun maneuvers to continue the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy. 

Friends, the choice is clear for justice-seekers: we must act to reject House MAGA Republican initiatives that will deprive people of the ability to earn a wage that supports a thriving life, ensures health care that is affordable and accessible, and allows families to climb out of poverty.

We are working for a country where children have enough food to eat, our homes are , and everyone can afford life-saving prescriptions.

We know what our communities need to thrive, and we have the faith and love to advocate for our neighbors, and we have the strength to advocate for what we need, because we are seeking justice together!NETWORK staff and supporters have helped families thrive before by advocating for the expanded CTC and access to affordable housing, food, and other initiatives to advance the Build Anew agenda. We must work together again, through your advocacy and our lobbying, so that children, and their parents, guardians, and communities have the support they need.

Join the Thriving Communities

 

 

 

Take Action to End Child Poverty with the Child Tax Credit

Watch the #CTCNow press conference and share it with friends. Scroll for call-in and Tweet details to take action to end child poverty with the Child Tax Credit.

Child Poverty is a Policy Choice

2021’s expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) lifted a historic number of kids out of poverty. It is poor policy, and morally repugnant, to extend tax breaks for corporations without also enacting robust expansion of the CTC. Congress must pass a fully refundable, monthly Child Tax Credit before the New Year.

Call the Senate: 1-888-738-3058!

Submit the Tweet below.

Call Your Senators NOW: 888-738-3058! *Dial twice to reach both of your Senators* 
Tell them no tax breaks for corporations without including the Child Tax Credit.
When you call, here’s what you might say:

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] from [YOUR TOWN]. As your constituent and a member of NETWORK, I ask you to support the expansion of the Child Tax Credit in any end of the year tax package. This is urgent. Millions of children who were lifted out of poverty by the expanded credit are now living in poverty again. This is a moral outrage. Will the Senator support passing the expanded Child Tax Credit before the end of the year?

After you call, send a tweet, too! Use the form below to direct a tweet to Congress.

Resources to support you when you take action to end child poverty.

Blogs
Talking Points
  • Last December, Congress allowed the expanded credit to expire, pushing nearly 4 million children back into poverty.
  • Census Bureau surveys found that 91 percent of low-income families—those with incomes below $35,000—used their monthly CTC payments to cover the cost of basic necessities such as food, housing, utilities, clothing, and education
  • Critics charge that the extended CTC is too generous. Some claim it reduces the incentive to work. They are wrong! Data conclusively shows that the CTC did not precipitate workforce reductions. Ironically, many parents who thrived in the workforce when the CTC was in place have left jobs since it expired.
  • The expanded CTC was an anti-poverty program AND a middle-class stabilization tool. Payments were a crucial financial lifeline to millions of families across the country; a wide range of families across income levels, racial and ethnic groups, and education levels received and benefited from these payments in 2021. Middle-income families, white families, and those without a college degree made up larger shares of recipients than low-income families, families of color, and those with a college degree.
Advocate’s CTC Testimonials

Many families with young children that I know, including my own, live paycheck-to-paycheck, and the significant inflation that we are facing has caused many of us to deplete our savings and increasingly rely on credit cards to get us through the month. With interest rates as high as they currently are, this is digging us into a deeper financial hole. An expansion of the Child Tax Credit could help us avoid using credit at a time when financial experts advise us to do so.Natalie M., Shaker Heights, OH

“[The CTC] will allow my children the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities and expose them to new experiences and friends, promoting the growth of their whole self.” Ivelisse C., Cleveland OH

“I have nieces in Ohio who are struggling to make ends meet to feed and clothe their children and also to afford daycare so they can get a job. The Child Tax Credit helped them before and it can help them again!” Sr. Joyce K., CPPS, Dayton, OH

“Several of my church families along with others in the community are struggling to make ends meet and to provide for their children. Some are looking at the loss of homes and eviction. The expanded Child Tax Credit will help to minimize theses effects of inflation and low paying work situations.” Rev. Karen B., Jeffersonville, IN

Keep Up with NETWORK

Just Politics Catholic Podcast Season One
Take More Action
Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut speaks at a Dec. 15 press conference urging Congress to pass the Child Tax Credit.

Champion For Families: In Conversation With Rosa DeLauro

Champion For Families: In Conversation With Rosa DeLauro

NETWORK Staff
December 15, 2022
Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut speaks at a Dec. 15 press conference urging Congress to pass the Child Tax Credit.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut speaks at a Dec. 15 press conference urging Congress to pass the Child Tax Credit.

Numerous champions for Catholic Social Justice have walked the Halls of Congress since NETWORK’s founding 50 years ago, but when it comes to advocacy on behalf of families, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who has served in the House since 1991, is both peerless and tireless.

As chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, the Congresswoman is currently leading the push to get the Child Tax Credit (CTC) included with the legislation Congress must pass before the end of this session. On a recent episode of NETWORK’s podcast, Just Politics, she explained why the CTC makes such a difference in the lives of families.

The following is an excerpt of that conversation:

NETWORK: Your background is in labor organizing, and you experienced poverty early on in your life. How do these experiences shape the work that you do as a member of Congress?

Rep. DeLauro: What has had the most effect on who I am, what I’m about, and what issues I take up has to do with being brought up in an Italian Catholic family, with a mother who was a union member and a garment worker in an old sweat shop in New Haven. She used to have me meet her there every day after school. It was a dark, noisy, dirty place, with women hunched over sewing machines. They never took a lunch break. They worked as fast as they could because you got paid by the number of dresses or shirt collars that you made. Oftentimes you would get the needle in your finger, but you never went to a clinic or got a tetanus shot, you just wrapped up your hand and kept going because you had to produce in order to provide for your family. I didn’t realize until I was an adult that my mom had been showing me what the circumstances were for mostly immigrant women. So my work on workplace safety, minimum wage, and equal pay for equal work draws from that experience.

And, we were evicted when I was 9 or 10 years old—finding our possessions on the street because my parents had a tough time financially. We wound up having to live with my grandmother until we could get back up on our feet again. My parents would tell me, “Get an education, so that you don’t have to do this.” Coming from an immigrant family who believes education is the root to success, I want to make sure that we are funding education because it is the great equalizer for families.

All of these experiences propel me to work on the issues you talk about. Union organizing, equal pay, living wage, a child tax credit… that work doesn’t come from just sitting in this institution for all these years. It comes directly out of my and my family’s experience, which has been my guidepost.


NETWORK: You mentioned the Child Tax Credit, which you were able to get into the American Rescue Plan. We know that the CTC lifted 2.1 million children out of poverty in 2021. What pro-family policies are you currently working to get into Appropriations now?

Rep. DeLauro: We are not done with the CTC. It has been a lifeline for working, middle class, and vulnerable families. Some people demeaned these families by saying they wouldn’t go to work if they got a child tax credit, or that they would spend the money foolishly. But what did they spend it on? Food, clothing, diapers, childcare so that they could go to work, mortgage payments, and rent payments. Now, we need to continue to fight for the CTC.

$1.3 trillion every single year goes through the various Appropriations subcommittees. There is so much contained within Appropriations bills that has a direct effect on children, families, and workers. Title I, special education, early childhood, childcare, health, nutrition, broadband, technical schools, worker training, apprenticeships, mental health… all of these are within the Appropriations Committee purview, and they’ve had years of disinvestment. So that’s where I focus my time and attention. Our job is to make this government work for people.

With cost of living today, people are struggling, living paycheck to paycheck. During the pandemic, we saw women being pushed out of the workforce. Childcare was collapsing. These things are all integrated. It is our obligation—our moral responsibility—to address these issues so that we can have a safe and secure future.


NETWORK: You understand the intersection of labor issues and women’s issues better than just about anyone. Here at NETWORK Lobby, we strongly support a national family and medical leave program that provides comprehensive leave with progressive wage replacement, job protection for all workers, and more inclusive definitions of family. Can you tell us what might the future hold for something like paid family leave?

Rep. DeLauro: No one decides to get sick, either themselves or their family. You’re then faced with the choice of your family, your own health, or your job. I learned about family and medical leave from my work with Senator Chris Dodd. Though we could not at the time get it to be paid leave, it has been tremendously helpful. However, many cannot take advantage of it because they can’t be without wages.

To tell you my own two stories, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986. I said to my then-boss, Sen. Dodd, “I’m going to the hospital.” I did not even know if I would ever return. He said to me, “Go get well, the job is here, your salary is here.” We had three kids and we were paying for their school. And two and a half months later, I went back to work and never missed a paycheck. Fast forward to 5 years ago, my mother was very ill at 103 years old, and I spent the last six weeks of her life with her. Nobody said, “You’re no longer a member of Congress.” Now if this is good enough for a staff member of an enlightened U.S. Senator, or the institution which I now serve, then it’s good for everybody else in this country. I introduced paid family and medical leave in 2013. We have made some progress on it, but we’re not there yet. We are going to continue to move!


NETWORK: You wrote a book about how these issues relate to your Catholic faith, called The Least Among Us: Waging the Battle of the Vulnerable.” What do you wish more people of faith understood about what the Gospel demands of us in the work for social justice?

Rep. DeLauro: This is so, so important to me. The rich Catholic heritage is grounded in social justice and economic justice. Leo XIII didn’t call it “social security;” he said that we have an obligation and a responsibility to take care of older people.

I was at Pope Francis’ inauguration, and he said that those of us who serve in public life have an obligation to be like Saint Joseph—to take care of family, to be inclusive, to look out for one another. I stood in St. Peter’s square with my colleague Rep. Anna Eshoo, and we were crying, because we have waited so long to hear those words. It’s who we are. It’s the ground that we stand on.

Everything that we do here impacts the wellbeing of people, and that is a responsibility. I end my book by recalling Robert Kennedy’s call to action, which is the way I feel about my faith in government. In Robert Kennedy’s words, “I believe that as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil. Government belongs wherever evil needs an adversary and there are people in distress.” I dream of an American future where all agree that anyone’s poverty is all of our business.

We have to continue to spread the word. I look forward to many more years of being an ally with you!

From NETWORK: Write a Letter to the Editor Supporting the Child Tax Credit