Child Credit Proposal Would Include the Unborn

Child Credit Proposal Would Include the Unborn August 1, 2023

One of the COVID-era measures to pour money to Americans to make up for the economic shutdown was the greatly expanded Child Tax Credit of 1921.  Parents were allotted $3,000 for each child undeer six and $3,000 for each child aged 6-17.  Though crafted as a tax credit, this subsidy was “fully refundable,” meaning that parents–including those who didn’t pay taxes–could take it out as a monthly payment.

The program expired at the end of that year, and, despite Democratic efforts to make it permanent, it was not renewed, Republicans considering it an expensive COVID bailout that is not longer needed.  Actually, the Trump administration had already doubled the earlier child tax credit to $2,000 in his tax reforms of 2017, with $1,600 being refundable.  That still-generous program is still in effect but it expires in 2025, when the benefit will revert back to $1,000 per child.

So there is now an effort to do something more with the child tax credit.  House Republicans, led by Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, are proposing the Providing For Life Act.

It includes a child tax credit even more generous than what we had under COVID:  Children 5 and under would be worth $3,500 apiece, and those aged 6-17 would get you $4,500.  The biggest innovation, though, is to give the child tax credit for unborn children.  A news story on the bill explains how that would work:

[The measure] would also retroactively expand the tax credit to unborn children. When a dependent is born, parents would become eligible to claim the tax credit in the prior year during the pregnancy, in addition to gaining access to the regular child tax credit in the current year.

This is not all that the Providing for Life Act would do.  It would also, among other things, allow parents to draw from their Social Security to fund up to three months of parental leave, incentivize states to make absent fathers pay for part of the mothers’ pregnancy expenses, and provide for support services for new parents on college campuses and at pregnancy resource centers.

Her legislation, says Rep. Hinson, “charts the policy course for a culture of life in America.”  She goes on:

By expanding the child tax credit to include the unborn and providing additional support to working families, empowering women to care for their babies regardless of socioeconomic status or zip code and improving access to community resources, we can make a meaningful difference for those in need. . . .

These provisions, and others championed by the pro-life community, will ensure we protect the most vulnerable and make critical investments in the long-term well-being of our families.

I salute this pro-life initiative.  I’m glad to see lawmakers coming up with concrete policies that will incentivize having children instead of aborting them.

It will be very interesting to see if Democrats will support these generous subsidies to families, which go beyond what they had earlier fought for, or if including the unborn will be a deal-breaker.  We will see what progressive value is stronger for them:  more social spending or abortion.

But would it be wise for the federal government to subsidize child-raising on such a scale?  Not only would the cost be astronomical in a time of staggering national debt, is there a problem, in principle, with the government taking on so much of the cost of parenthood?  Aren’t parents supposed to pay for their kids’ expenses, not the government?

Then again, perhaps such a subsidy would mean a revival in the institution of the family.  That would lessen the economic pressure that makes both parents feel that they have to work.  It would encourage large families.  The current drop in the birth rate could have devastating economic and social consequences.  The prospect of a demographic crisis certainly deserves some kind of government intervention.

This is a good test case for the two brands of conservatism currently contending with each other:  limited government in favor of individual liberty and mediating institutions vs. big government to achieve conservative social ends.

Help me out here.


Photo by Direct Media from Freerange Stock

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