Thursday, May 29, 2003


Tax laws generally aren't especially interesting to me, but things like this get my blood boiling.

Written into the new tax cut is a $400 child credit - the allowance for households with children had been $600 and is now being raised to $1000; thus, these households will get a $400 check in the mail.

But wait!

In a last minute revision, this child credit will now be denied to those taxpayers in the lowest income brackets (those making $10,500 to $26,625. People with incomes less than $10,000 don't pay taxes, so they aren't eligible for refunds anyway.). The poverty line right now is around $18,000 for a family of four. So many of the taxpayers in this bracket that have children also live in poverty. And the largest group of people populating the poverty rolls are single mothers. So, a whole lot of single Moms just got the big middle finger from legislators.

"I don't know why they would cut that out of the bill," said Senator Blanche Lincoln, the Arkansas Democrat who persuaded the full Senate to send the credit to many more low income families before the provision was dropped in conference. "These are the people who need it the most and who will spend it the most. These are the people who buy the blue jeans and the detergent and who will stimulate the economy with their spending."

The legislators blame the unkind cut on the senate for capping the tax cut at $350 billion. After including the massive dividend and capital gains tax cuts (read: oodles of money for rich people), there wasn't any room left for the costly matter of giving some much-needed cash to the neediest.

Granted, giving $400 back to the poorest families is not going to stimulate jobs and growth. (Of course, neither is giving dividend breaks to the wealthy, but let's let that slide for now.) All the same, as the president of the the Children's Research and Education Institute points out in the article, it's unjust to include some children in the cut and not others. Conservatives often complain about the lazy poor leeching off society, but these taxpayers are the folks who are receiving an income, trying to "play by the rules," and they still can't catch a break.

Welcome to compassionate conservativism, eh? I know it's not in the conservative agenda to construct elaborate safety nets for the poor, but do we have to be actively disenfranchising them?


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