How President Biden’s stimulus package will impact childhood poverty in Alabama

Impact of stimulus bill on kids and families in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package is being praised by some as taking steps forward in the fight against childhood poverty. The public administration specialist we spoke to says 95% of children in Alabama will benefit from the bill.

The stimulus package will temporarily raise the child tax credit from $2,000 to as much as $3600 per child annually.

UAB Department of Political Science and Public Administration assistant professor, Dr. Peter Jones, explained why the tax credit expansion will help.

“The current tax credit really doesn’t help every child like you might think it does. There are some stipulations that you might have to have a certain threshold of income... really about 7 million kids are ineligible,” said Jones.

Jones explained the income requirement for the child tax credit being voided opens the credit up to millions of American children.

“7 million kids are about 10% of the children in our country. In addition to that, you have about 17 million children who won’t get the full $2,000. What the bill stipulates is the income threshold goes away and essentially every child claimed as a dependent and the family [qualifies].” Jones said.

The plan is to send monthly checks to families. It also includes funding for several child programs including school reopening’s and childcare.

However, there are some who don’t agree with the child tax credit benefit and say it’ll only discourage people from getting back to work.

But according to Jones, Alabama families will be significantly impacted due to high numbers of food security and poverty among children,

“Especially in Alabama as we have this huge challenge, this tax credit is going raise anywhere from 80 to 160,000 kids over the poverty line and that’s huge when we think about the 250,000 children who are in poverty right now in Alabama,” Jones explained.

The expansion of the child tax credit would also help other sectors in Alabama.

“Because it’s a federal program and is going to alleviate child poverty it’s going to lessen that burden on the state and other localities and really free the state up to invest in other areas which I believe is an awesome thing for Alabama,” he said.

Another complaint about the stimulus bill is that it adds too much to the country’s deficit.

“Democrats would counter by noting that the recent Republican tax bill in 2017 drastically increased the deficit, too, and one might argue that a global pandemic of this scale requires the spending levels we saw in WWII. It is maybe more important to note that the federal government is in a much better position to cool down an economy than it is to try to ramp up the economy after the pandemic is over,” said Jones. “In other words, you’d rather risk doing too much now than doing too little because if you do too much, and say, increase inflation, then you can address that with monetary policy. But if you do too little, the effects of this recession linger for a long time, and things like childhood poverty are exacerbated. President Biden has essentially signaled that his policies will err on the side of doing too much. I suspect this is because many argue the stimulus bill passed during the Obama administration was not big enough to address the Great Recession.”

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