There’s a lot to blame Senator Joe Manchin for if you’re someone who cares about things like abortion rights or not going out in a massive climate apocalypse.
But, Urban League President, Marc Morial, wants you to make sure that you add not being able to massively cut down on the number of Black children in poverty, to the top of your list.
In an exclusive interview with The Root, Morial called the Senator’s nearly one-man crusade against the Build Back Better Act—which would have continued and grew pandemic relief policies, including continuing the expanded child tax credit--a major “setback,” for Black Americans.
The act’s child tax credit would have significantly narrowed racial differences in child poverty rates, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And, if the child tax credit was permanently expanded, child poverty for Black children would have fallen by more than 50 percent, according to the Urban Institute.
“Build Back Better had tremendous opportunities to address economic disparities and poverty,” Morial told The Root. “It was something that would have benefited the African American community in housing, when it comes to child care, when it comes to education, and across the board.”
It’s hard to overstate the benefits of expanding the child tax credit, which expired on a monthly basis in December. The pandemic American Rescue Plan Act expanded the child tax credits to provide monthly payments of $250 or $300 per child to most American families, according to the Urban Institute, giving families $3,000 or $3,600 per child annually.
“The fact that it did expire does negatively impact Black children because it’s designed to lift families with children out of poverty,” said Morial, “and it succeeded for a year in doing that and the poverty numbers came down.”
The same month the tax credits expired, Senator Joe Manchin put his weight behind team not lifting thousands of children out of poverty, effectively killing the bill in an interview with Fox News.
“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” said Manchin on Fox’s Sunday show. “I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there. This is a no.”
Morial was less than pleased when he spoke with us about Manchin’s not so favorable characterization of the bill.“He single-handedly blocked the child tax credit,” said Morial. “He characterized it, unfortunately, as a giveaway program.”
Losing the Build Back Better Bill’s child tax credits wasn’t the only loss for Black Americans. The bill originally included several other poverty-fighting measures including:
- Universal pre-k for all three and four-year-olds
- Another year of the expanded child tax credit
- An extension of the Affordable Care Act subsidies
- Massive investments in affordable housing
And, none of these policies can happen without a Democratic supermajority in Congress dedicated to passing policies like Build Back Better, said Morial.
“This comes down to voting, voting, voting, period,” said Morial.