Lost in the cacophony of outrage surrounding Republican nominee Donald Trump’s ever-widening sexual misconduct scandal was a very important policy announcement from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday, the former Secretary of State and New York Senator unveiled a plan to expand the child income tax credit to tackle the pernicious effects of deep poverty and income inequality in America.
While it’s certainly not as salacious as recent revelations that show Donald Trump leers at naked teenagers, her newly announced policy would be a significant help for an American population suffering from stagnant wages and ever-increasing expenses. Her plan calls for a “change in the refundability threshold of the child tax credit,” which doesn’t sound exciting but would open up the child tax credit to families who were shut out of the program because they don’t make enough money.
VOX describes how Clinton would “would change the law so that families start getting the credit with the first dollar they earn. That would effectively increase the tax refunds of the poorest families with children. In addition, Clinton would double the credit for children 4 and under, something that helps both poor and middle-class families with young kids, and she’d make the credit phase in much faster for families with kids in that age range.”
The Center On Budget and Policy Proposals estimates that Clinton’s proposal would benefit around 14.2 million working families, lifting 1.5 million people above the poverty line (including 400,000 children under age 5) and bring another 9.4 million closer to the poverty line:
For example, a single mother working 20 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, at the federal minimum wage while raising a toddler and a 7-year-old daughter currently receives a partial [Child Tax Credit] of $638. Under this proposal, she would get the full $3,000 credit for a family with two children of these ages: $2,000 for the toddler and $1,000 for the older child.
The US Department of Agriculture estimates that on average, a child costs $245,000 to raise until the age of 18.
On the other hand, Republican nominee Donald Trump’s “childcare plan” would overwhelmingly favor the richest Americans and do nothing for the poorest Americans. Based on income tax deductions, it would do nothing for the 44% of Americans who don’t make enough money to pay federal income taxes. For those that do, the vast majority of them are still living on such tight budgets they can’t wait for an end-of-the year reimbursement. Trump’s plan is clearly a ham-fisted attempt to appeal to women voters – and any inroads he may have gained with them have been definitely ruined by the tapes that show him gloating about sexual assault.
Though they may not understand it, the economic hardships that inspire Trump supporters to such extremes are largely orchestrated by predatory oligarchs like Donald Trump and the machinations of the wealthiest Americans, who use their ill-gotten gains to entrench the status quo and keep the American people downtrodden as a perpetually exploitable source of labor and taxes.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich remarked that “the real problem isn’t globalization or technological change per se, It’s that America’s moneyed interests won’t finance policies necessary to reverse their consequences — such as a first-class education for all the nation’s young, wage subsidies that bring all workers up to a livable income, a massive ‘green’ jobs program and a universal basic income.”
All Americans – and all humans of the world – have a right to a quality education and enough money to live in relative comfort; to have an opportunity to be a productive member of society and to live their lives knowing there will be food on the table, clean water in their cups, a roof over their heads, and a future for their children to enjoy. Trump is but a symptom of the socioeconomic inequalities facing our nation, and Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who presents any sort of plan that would alleviate the stresses on the American people and help bring our nation back to sanity.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.