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Joe Manchin Might Singlehandedly Upend the Child Tax Credit

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The expanded child tax credit has been enthusiastically embraced by most Democrats as an easily promotable example of a social policy which aids families in tangible ways. On the surface, the policy would appear to be one of the few things Democrats across the ideological spectrum might agree on as they undertake the messy business of crafting a bill amenable to moderates and progressives. Here’s the basic concept: “Giving money to families on a monthly basis can cut child poverty and provide us with an easy campaign talking point.”

Democrats are hoping to fold an extension of the credit into their as-yet-unwritten multi-trillion dollar budget reconciliation deal, which already contains a slew of agenda items, including child care, health care, and climate change. But an extension of the expanded credit is facing skepticism from a familiar dramatis persona in these recent shows of intraparty dissension: Senator Joe Manchin.

The West Virginia Democrat is a critical swing vote in the Senate, and his support is crucial for the bill to pass. Democrats are using the reconciliation process to pass the measure so that it can pass with a simple majority in the Senate, because otherwise, it will get absolutely filibustered to death as no Republicans support it. Democrats only hold fifty seats in the Senate, so everyone must be on board for any bill to pass.

This has led to weeks of agita among all factions of the party: Moderates fret over the proposed $3.5 trillion topline; progressives say they’ll refuse to accept anything lower than that number, which is already a drop from their initial calls for a $6 trillion bill. Manchin has been a reliably skeptical voice in these debates, with worries over the price tag, the climate change provisions, the Medicare expansion, and the child tax credit—all must-have inclusions, as far as progressives are concerned.

Manchin suggested earlier this month that the extended child tax credit should include work requirements, insisting that “tax credits are based around people that have tax liabilities,” and that recipients should “have a W-2 and show that they’re working.” He’s only doubled down since then. In an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday, Manchin explained that he supported “work requirements for everything. Means testing and work requirements.”

One could argue that the child tax credit is currently in the midst of means testing—it was expanded in the American Rescue Plan in March, which Manchin........

© New Republic

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