Notre Dame economics professor featured in ‘New York Times’ for reflections on expanding child tax credit
Gabrielle Penna | Friday, February 19, 2021
Part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Recovery Plan to address increased economic inequality during the pandemic includes proposed changes to the child tax credit policy by temporarily providing additional funds to parents. Earlier this month, Sen. Mitt Romney proposed an alternative bill that would give parents more money than allocated in the America Recovery Plan, giving lawmakers a second expansion option to consider.
Associate professor of economics Kasey Buckles, who was recently featured in a New York Times article about expanding the child tax credit, emphasized the importance of enacting one of these plans to support children through the pandemic and beyond.
“Children are future productive members of society, and their total benefit to society is greater than their benefit to their parents alone,” she said.
Increasing the benefits of the child tax credit will be a sign of support to parents, Buckles said.
“[This policy will] move us in the right direction,” she said. “It would reiterate how much we value — and are willing to support — the work that parents are doing on behalf of everyone to have and raise children.”
Now more than ever, Buckles sees a need to ensure sustainability in parenthood with the growing costs of having a child.
“You have many people who want kids, but say that they cannot have them because the costs are too high and their resources too low,” Buckles said. “[These proposals would] encourage and support parents in ways they should be, therefore making parenthood more sustainable.”
Considering the context of this year, Buckles reflected on the effects of COVID-19, which has left many families struggling. Many parents have been forced to leave the workforce, either because of the disappearance of their previous position or their need to support their children at home. Because so many have faced these issues, Buckles does not see the lack of regulation in this proposal as a wrong approach.
“I think a big consequence of the events of the last year has been the real strain that it’s put on families,” she said.
Looking forward, Buckles notes the pros and cons of this approach to such a complex issue. She said while many are deserving of immediate financial relief, this policy does not promise long-term relief.
“I do not know if this is the best solution to the overall economic crisis,” Buckles said. “I think the best solution for that would be to get the virus under control.”
With that in mind, Buckles addressed the fact that although the effects of COVID-19 have exacerbated the problem of access to financial services, there are many unnecessary barriers that were present before the pandemic.
“We’ve had — even well before the pandemic in this country — policymakers being very worried that people are getting help when they do not need or deserve it,” Buckles said.
She said eligibility requirements “prevent the unintended or undesired from getting these benefits.”
As a consequence, there are many people who need the help are but are unable to receive it, she explained.
Turning to implementation, Buckles acknowledged the significant government funding that would need to be allocated to this program to make it come to life.
“Any government policy is feasible if we decide that it’s a priority,” she said.
She then spoke on the current systems which provide long-term support for older generations and disabled Americans.
“If we decided as a nation that it is important to provide long-term support for families, especially families with young children, then we could make it happen,” she said.
Redirecting the focus to students, Buckles noted the impact this policy could have on the Notre Dame community.
“This child benefit, if it is enacted and becomes a permanent feature of our safety net and our tax system, will affect a great many of Notre Dame students who are likely to become parents over the next 10 to 20 years,” Buckles said.
Buckles said she felt “encouraged” by this policy because of the two arguments she sees for it.
“The first is that it would strengthen the public safety net, especially for children, and it would provide long-term support that makes it more feasible for people to have and raise children in the first place,” she said.
With hope in these proposed plans, Buckles acknowledged they can only improve circumstances for people in the future.
“[A] shift in the way we think about future generations and those who take care of future generations — through this proposal — has the potential to change current systems for the better,” she said.