Poor People's Campaign

Sen. Joe Manchin has recruited more of his congressional colleagues to support a dangerous “compromise” to include “means-testing” and limit the Child Tax Credit in the next round of legislation.

Means-testing puts a cap on who can access government assistance and welfare programs. It’s usually measured against the poverty line (too low!) so means-tests usually underestimate who needs these programs and how much they need.

It seems like every time a means-test is lifted or made more generous, more people benefit — not because they don’t need those programs, but because they do.

Medicaid is means-tested, but when it was expanded during the pandemic, 10 million more people enrolled in Medicaid!

As Jeanne Theoharis pointed out recently, when welfare reform was enacted — and incorporated means-testing, work requirements and other ways to limit access — the number of people who were poor went up.

This is what Sen. Manchin, Rep. Clyburn and others now want to do with the Child Tax Credit.

In 2021, the CTC was changed: benefits went up, payments went out monthly and the program included families who had not been able to access it before because they were too poor to pay taxes.

It still included a “means-test” but at a generous upper bound and removed its lower bound.

And in 2021, the CTC reached over 61 million children and 36 million households, including 27 million of the poorest households that had never received it before.

Perhaps most importantly, the expanded CTC lifted the stigma of receiving welfare. Sen. Manchin and others want to do away with it now — not because it didn’t work, but because it did.

Remember, there are no work requirements on tax cuts for the wealthy or corporations. There is no means-testing on the Pentagon.

We will not accept means-testing that makes the CTC or any program we need less than what it needs to be for us.