When they took power this past winter, Democrats made a commitment to not repeat what many viewed as a critical misstep of the Obama years. The legislation they passed would do two things well: make sure that the benefits were frontloaded and that the impact was tangible.
The result was a Covid relief package that included direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans, $300 per week in unemployment insurance supplements, and an expansion of the child tax credit for a year.
Nine months later, whatever political benefits were supposed to accrue from that package have seemingly faded. The public’s support for the direct payments has been overtaken by its concerns about the lingering pandemic. The federal unemployment insurance benefits ended in September with no apparent appetite by the feds or state governments to extend them. And while Democrats are seeking to extend the expanded child tax credit past its expiration date this December, recent polling data suggests that they are getting little credit for it.
A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released last week showed that 61 percent of respondents said they’d received the credit — a $300 payment per month for every child under the age of 7 and a $250-per-month payment for every child under the age of 17. But only 39 percent of respondents said that the payment had a major impact on their lives. And while 47 percent of respondents credited Democrats for passing the expanded child tax credit, just 38 percent credited President Joe Biden.
Those numbers are causing agita on Capitol Hill, where there is growing concern that in a rush to continue legislative momentum around infrastructure and Biden’s Build Back Better social spending plan, the party has failed to hammer home the benefits of their first big bill: the American Rescue Plan.
“It’s great to deliver and do things, but you have to actually go out and tell the f—ing world about it,” conceded one top Senate Democratic aide who worked on getting the child tax credit passed. “That’s not a two-month project. It has to keep going.”