Democrats in the U.S. Senate are trying to include expanded Child Tax Credit payments in their $3.5 reconciliation legislation.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet has made the expanded $300 monthly payments a key plank of his reelection campaign, and supports making the monthly payments a permanent entitlement program.
BAD NEWS FOR BIDEN — Democrats who were hoping that the monthly $300-per-child checks the federal government started sending to families over the summer would be a winner in the midterms won’t like the findings of our latest poll with Morning Consult. Fewer than half of respondents, 47%, gave congressional Democrats credit for providing the extra cash, and even fewer, 38%, credited President JOE BIDEN. While half of registered voters support the expanded payments (vs. 38% in opposition), only 35% want to make them permanent — an idea Democrats in Congress are weighing at the moment. The payments are set to expire next year. Toplines… Crosstabs
This poll is especially bad for Democrats like Bennet because it suggests the mere mention of Biden is a drag on any policy attached to his name, Bennet’s Child Tax Credit included.
The latest Civiqs tracking poll has Biden underwater in Colorado by 9 points, a gap that has been fairly consistent over the last month following the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and mounting inflation fears.
In Colorado and across the country, voters are disappointed and angry with Joe Biden's incompetence.
— Colorado Rising State Action (@COStateAction) September 23, 2021
Whether Bennet’s welfare checks will even be included in the final reconciliation bill remains to be seen for a variety of reasons.
For starters, there is precisely zero support for the refundable tax credits among Republicans and many moderates.
The expanded welfare payments are also extended to illegal immigrants, which U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney called “outrageous.”
The President's "human infrastructure bill" would allow illegal immigrants to get $300/month, per child, by obtaining a tax ID number once they're here. It's outrageous. I can't think of a more enticing reason to enter our country illegally–at the expense of American tax payers. pic.twitter.com/nnIX9EMwjz
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) September 21, 2021
West Virginia U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin says he won’t support a reconciliation bill above $1.5 trillion. According to Bernie Sanders, that put Bennet’s expanded Child Tax Credit on the chopping block.
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) September 30, 2021
Manchin has also said he supports means testing and adding a work requirement for the expanded Child Tax Credit, something Bennet has said he opposes.
Complicating matters further, Democrats seem intent on repealing or increasing the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction in the reconciliation legislation.
President Trump’s 2017 tax reform bill capped SALT deductions at $10,000, which prevents blue state wealthy households from writing off state and local taxes above the $10k threshold.
A full repeal would be a pretty serious math problem for Democrats because it would cost about $85 billion a year, while the annual cost of the expanded Child Tax Credit is estimated to be $100 billion per year.
So long as coastal Democrats from wealthy blue states like New Jersey U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez remain entrenched in their “no SALT, no deal” posture in reconciliation negotiations, it seems possible Bennet’s Child Tax Credit expansion could fall by the wayside.
This would be especially embarrassing for Bennet because he is one of the few Democrats to speak out and even vote against repealing the SALT deduction cap in the past.
Based on the way negotiations are trending, Bennet could be forced to increase or repeal the SALT cap at the expense of his beloved welfare checks.
This would be humiliating for Bennet considering he is already facing attacks from his Republican opponents who argue he is completely ineffective in the Senate.
If Bennet gets rolled by Pelosi and Schumer to cut taxes for blue state millionaires, that narrative will grow stronger.
It would be a stunning defeat if Democrats did not expand the Child Tax Credit in some form or fashion, and far too embarrassing for President Biden and Bennet not to.
However, the rock bottom polling for the expanded welfare checks also gives us reason to wonder what Democrats will ultimately do.
Either way, Bennet has put himself in a no win situation.
Either he gets expanded welfare payments that are largely unpopular with voters, or he just demonstrates yet again that he’s incapable of exerting any meaningful influence in his caucus.