Hillary Clinton, apparently deciding she needs to do more than sit in a lawn chair and watch Donald Trump’s latest gasoline fight accident, released something resembling an actual tax proposal today. Say hello to an expanded Child Tax Credit.
Since I’m a bit of a tax nerd (if having a tax website didn’t give that away), I couldn’t help but think that her expanded Child Tax Credit sounded vaguely familiar. Not a huge surprise, since most tax policies have been swirling around since income tax first became a thing. This one, though, is a bit different, since it actually comes from the Conservative Side of the political isle.
For those who didn’t watch the Republican Primaries hoping that someone–anyone–other than the current nominee would win, Hillary Clinton’s Child Tax Credit is similar to the Marco Rubio and Mike Lee proposal.
Let me sum up Hillary Clinton’s Child Tax Credit proposal, then I’ll bring it back around to Senator Rubio.
From what I can tell based on the media’s reporting of the proposal (which is not always known for its accuracy in tax plans), the child tax credit, which is currently maxes out at $1,000 per child, would be increased to $2,000 for each child under 5 years old. This is a refundable credit, which means you can get money back even if you don’t owe any taxes.
In addition to that, it would remove a current minimum income threshold from the child tax credit for “children of all ages” (that part is a direct quote, and also a bit misleading. The current child tax credit is actually only for children 16 years and younger, which is unlikely to change to now cover your 23 year old child still living in the basement).
Now let’s briefly compare that to the Rubio-Lee proposal. Their plan also updated the child tax credit, but bumped it up to $2,500. It wasn’t refundable, but it could be used to offset both income and payroll taxes paid, which means most people who qualified for the credit would be looking at some sort of tax break.
Possibly some, but her proposal has two problematic parts that might keep the enthusiasm tempered.
First Problem: What’s with this age limit. Having two children right around that age, I can guarantee children don’t magically get cheaper the minute they turn five. If anything, they (and their schools, doctors, programs, activities, etc) are more likely try to shake down the money tree.
My guess is that she’s trying to appeal to the Child CARE tax credit crowd, since the main difference between a four year old and five year old is that the latter most likely qualifies to attend public school instead of costly day care. Her proposal, thankfully, bypasses the annoying Child Care Tax Credit limitations, so it’s a definite step up over modifying that frustrating tax credit.
To show that she’s a typical politician, Hillary Clinton actually stated as one of the reasons we need this credit is to help middle-class families struggling to afford college. Unless we’ve had a deluge of four year olds attending college, I’m pretty sure this is just the standard list of economic grievances rather than an actual rationalization for the credit.
Second Problem: Hillary Clinton wants to pay for this tax credit by–surprise–increasing taxes on “the wealthy, Wall Street, and big corporations.” I could write quite a bit more about why these groups are not the endless source of money Democrats (and some people who claim to be Republicans) claim, but I already have, so I’ll leave that off from here. Let’s just say that raising taxes on the wealthy can pay for SOME things, but not EVERYTHING.
Honestly, this is a pretty good move on Hillary’s part. During a time when The Donald is dousing himself in gasoline and trying to find the best dumpster fire to throw himself into (Ben Sasse undoubtedly would be more than happy to offer a few suggestions), she proposes a policy similar enough to a conservative policy to give some wavering critics pause.
Of course, chances that this proposal will actually pass–just like every presidential promise–are near nil. But that’s just politics.