July 18, 2003

Commentary

Child Tax Credit Unjustly Leaves 4 Million Latino Children Behind

By Deena Lahn
Director of Children’s Defense Fund

Later this month, millions of parents will receive a check from the federal government as child tax credit checks are mailed out. Approximately 2.8 million Californians will have a little “extra” money to spend - a cash advance, if you will, on next year’s tax return. If all goes as the Bush Administration hopes, spending these checks will help fuel the nation’s spiraling economy.

Unfortunately for over 1,287,000 California families, however, there will be no check in the mail, no extra cash in hand to spend on food, utilities, rent, or other immediate needs these families struggle with from day to day.   Families who earn between $10,500 and $26,625 won’t get any tax relief because the Bush Administration instead chose to give a stock dividend tax cut to the rich.

In an affront to the working poor, President Bush’s $350 billion tax law deliberately overlooked 12 million children living in hard working, low income families - including over 4 million Latino children, or one in three  - in order to make room for dividend tax cuts for the wealthy.

Families making over $1 million a year, on the other hand, stand to receive on average, a whopping $93,500. Those in between - over half of all Americans - will receive less than $500.  As a result, the President’s plan leaves no millionaire behind, while leaving millions of low income children behind. Latino families are hit the hardest. This is a gross injustice that can - and should - be remedied immediately. 

The Senate recently passed a bill that corrects this injustice (Lincoln-Snowe), and ensures that working families of these 12 million children will receive the child credit in their mailboxes this summer.

However, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has said that tax relief for low-income families with children is simply not an important priority, and has instead proposed an additional $82 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy as a condition for approving the Lincoln-Snowe bill. In effect, 12 million low income children are being held hostage to political shenanigans by House Republicans, who are so intent on giving more and more to the rich that poor children are forced to pay the price.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Perhaps House Republicans can be shamed into doing what’s right for children.  This is clearly a case of the people of this country being in a position to make a difference – by forming a militia to fight against this Administration’s budget war on poor children.  Concerned Californians need to speak out as a unified voice for children and hold their representatives accountable for doing what is right for working families.  

The Children’s Defense Fund urges the House to enact the Senate’s version of the child tax credit immediately, so that the families who need help most will get it without further enriching families who need help the least. Californians can do the same by calling their representative at (202) 224-3121 or emailing President Bush at president@whitehouse.gov.

Deena Lahn is Director of Children’s Defense Fund – California, she can be reached at cdfca@childrensdefense.org.

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