As Clinton sees an upswing in the polls, some of which show her leading Donald Trump by double-digits, our probable future Madame President appears to be already planning for her first 100 days. Today, she is unveiling a new policy proposal, an expansion of the Child Tax Credit.
The plan reveals much of what we can expect from a President Hillary: She has become much more progressive over the years, but she still stops short of what more liberal members of Congress have called for. The CTC expansion is a big one and would help a lot of families. Currently the credit is worth up to $1,000 for children under 18, but households must be making at least $3,000 per year to qualify for the benefit, which excludes many low-income families (the number of families living on $2 a day has doubled since the 1996 welfare reform bill). Clinton’s plan would double the benefit to up to $2,000 for children under age five, and lower eligibility for all children to the first dollar of earnings.
The focus on younger children is important, since they are more likely to be poorer, and poverty is especially detrimental to children in their developmental years. This aspect of Clinton’s plan is similar to many of the bills currently being pushed by congressional Democrats.
The phase-in of the current credit is also not fully refundable, meaning families only receive 15 percent of their income, or 15 cents on every dollar they earn. In this way, families who earn less, receive less. Clinton would increase the refundability to 45 percent of earnings for families with young children, while leaving it at 15 percent for older children.
This is a huge improvement, but the benefit is still regressive. It can be interpreted as a concession to the other side—in comparison, Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s bill gives an additional, fully refundable $1,500 to all children under age three. It’s heartening to see Clinton come out for a large expansion in the child tax credit. But it looks like she’s also getting ready to play politics.