The number of Colorado parents eligible to receive the federal Child Tax Credit could be cut by nearly 70% if congressional Democrats and the Biden administration cave to the demands of one of their Democratic colleagues, according to a new report.
The vast federal program – which sends monthly payments to parents of children 17 years old and younger – has been a top policy priority of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet since the middle of the last decade and was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March as part of a pandemic response package.
The credit is in place for the 2021 tax year and the Denver Democrat has lead the way on proposing a five-year extension as part of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package making its way through Congress. But Bennet’s Democratic colleague U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is targeting the CTC in an effort to cut the top line figure for the reconciliation package down by some $2 trillion.
With the Senate locked at 50-50, Democrats in that chamber need their entire voting block to stick together for Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote. That gives the West Virginia Democrat, along with Arizona Democratic U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, outsized influence over negotiations on the reconciliation package, which contains much of Biden’s domestic agenda.
Axios on Sunday reported Manchin is flexing that influence, telling the White House “the child tax credit must include a firm work requirement and family income cap in the $60,000 range.”
Researchers at the self-proclaimed “moderate” Niskanen Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, on Tuesday released estimates based off of Axios' report showing if Manchin got his way, some 37.4 million children across the country would lose out on federal aid.
Colorado would be particularly hard hit based on the projections put together by the Niskanen Center's Robert Orr and Samuel Hammond. Based on the duo’s projections, roughly 320,000 Colorado kids would be eligible for the credit under Manchin's proposal, down 67.9% from the roughly 1.1 million currently eligible children.
That would represent the 13th-largest drop in eligibility percentage in the nation, and would rank as the seventh-largest drop among states with more than 1 million CTC recipients.
Orr and Hammond indicated the projections are intended to provide a "rough sense" of the low end of the cuts.
"While such a reform would likely have different income thresholds for single and married tax units combined with a graduated phase-out of the credit, absent further details, these estimates provide a rough sense the size of cut to the CTC expansion at stake if Manchin's remarks are taken literally," the pair wrote. "Without access to a specific proposal, we do not attempt to model the effects of a work or earnings requirement, which by nature would further reduce the number of children with access to the credit."
A Bennet spokesperson indicated the Denver Democrat “strongly opposes adding work requirements: he believes punishing the poorest children in America because their family’s income is too low to qualify them for the CTC is self-defeating and incredibly compromising to them and to our nation’s future.”
“The CTC expansion in the American Rescue Plan is already targeted toward low- and middle-income families, and this is the proposal Senator Bennet believes we should extend,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Many Americans haven’t seen a real increase in their incomes in fifty years while the costs of raising a family for those in the middle class and those struggling to stay in the middle class have skyrocketed. The expanded CTC was designed to help parents keep up with the rising costs of raising kids and represents the biggest investment in our nation’s families in generations.”