Stimulus Update: What Reddit Users Have to Say About Congress Ending Expanded Child Tax Credits

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  • The U.S. birthrate is down 20% since 2007.
  • The end of the expanded Child Tax Credit put another spotlight on the wealth gap in the U.S.
  • We have it within our power to end childhood hunger and the Child Tax Credit is one tool in our arsenal.

There's an awful lot of economic pain out there.

Ah, Reddit. Like a family reunion populated with opinionated uncles and slightly tipsy aunts. You never know what you're going to get, but you're pretty sure most of it is going to embarrass you. Once in a blue moon, though, a sensible comment shines through.

In September, as part of a plan to end childhood hunger, President Biden proposed that the expanded Child Tax Credit be reinstated and made permanent. We wondered what the folks who populate Reddit had to say about the Child Tax Credit. We specifically wondered what they thought when Congress refused to extend payments beyond December 2021.

And boy, oh boy, did they come through for us. Here's a sample:

Some are choosing not to have children

A poster called Sunbunny94 wrote, in part: "We can't afford kids, so we're not having any. Which terrifies people because our national birth rate is going down and less people are paying in taxes. It always comes back to money, power, or both."

Sunbunny94 is not alone. According to researchers from the University of Maryland and Wellesley College, up until the Great Recession, the number of children born per woman in the U.S. had remained stable for 30 years. However, the birth rate has fallen by 20% since the 2007 Great Recession, and there are no indications that it will reverse. The decline can't be explained by demographic, economic, or policy changes.

PatchTossaway added (ironically, we hope): "The newer generations aren't having kids because they can't afford them? Let's force them to have kids. They'll figure out how to feed, clothe, and shelter them or we'll toss them in jail for child neglect. That'll teach them to be more responsible with money!"

And then there was RepresentativeBet444 whose story made us sad: "I hate saying it, but my wife and I decided not to have kids until we could afford it without question. She is now going through menopause. I know you can give me some garbage about how we should adopt or something, but the fact is that the American economic system means that we will never have kids. We will likely have enough to give those non-existent children a good life never."

And just when we started to think we kind of liked the people at this year's reunion, things got ugly. Someone calling themselves u/Sudden_Ad8996 spouted: "If you need food stamps, a child tax credit, Medicaid, and cash assistance because you had too many kids, guess what? You can't, and by definition don't, take care of your kids fully."

Well, you knew there had to be at least one in attendance. At least we have PaulM, who added: "And the older generation wonders why young people aren't having kids until they're >30, if at all."

The gap becomes more apparent

Something that surprised us about the Reddit threads discussing the end of the expanded Child Tax Credit is how many people mentioned the gap between the rich and the poor. It was as if having enough money to put food on the table and pay for their kid to play soccer for six months made Child Tax Credit recipients realize how much easier life could be.

Before we dive into some of their insights, it may help to review the facts:

  • There is now more income and wealth inequality in the U.S. than at any time in the past 100 years.
  • As of 2022, three multibillionaires own more wealth than the entire bottom half of U.S. society. That means that those three people have more money than 160 million other Americans.
  • 45% of all new income goes to the top 1% of Americans.
  • CEOs of large companies earn a record-breaking 350 times more than their employees.

Through this lens, it's easy to understand the frustration. For example:

Rude-Strawbery-6360 wrote:

"No baby formula. Check.

Few living wage jobs. Check.

Housing shortage. Check.

Not enough money to feed your kids. Check.

Forced pregnancy and no birth control. Check."

"Sure, that sounds bad but corporations have been having their most profitable quarters ever and a couple of guys can ride rockets in low orbit," wrote BoDrax.

Any hope some people were feeling as expanded Child Tax Credit payments hit their bank accounts has now evaporated.

According to leontes, "We had pretty much cracked child poverty. Why did we stop? Probably the same reason we are set to stop free lunches for these kids after the summer."

As hard as it may be to believe, things only got sadder from there. It's easy to think of the expanded Child Tax Credit as a political issue, but it's a real-life game changer for millions of families who got a taste of what it might feel like to go to bed at night knowing their kids were fed.

As midterm election results slowly roll in, we'll get a better understanding of which party controls Congress. That will likely be key to whether Biden's plan to reinstate the expanded Child Tax Credit and end childhood hunger by the end of the decade has any shot at becoming a reality.

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