I Prayed have prayed
Lord, we pray for wisdom for our leaders as they seek right strategies to empower American families to steward the resources You have provided to meet fundamental needs. May we follow a course of honoring life, liberty, and good neighborly love.
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Analysis. Is the child tax credit simply a “cash for kids” scheme? That seems a rather grinch-like view to me, so I was a bit surprised to see it espoused earlier this week by the Wall Street Journal editorial board, an influencer whose opinions I often find significant and helpful.

Have you taken your place on the wall?


“Congress is returning to Washington for a lame-duck session, and Democrats think they’ve found the perfect holiday gift for hard-to-shop-for American voters: Subsidies for children,” the board wrote. “The left and some Republicans will argue that only childless ghouls could oppose cash for kids, but the tax credit is a parable about good intentions, unintended consequences, and the insatiable entitlement state.”

Now, I’m not going to call the editorial board writers ghouls — as I said: I respect them. But count me, as a conservative, wary of connotations raised here with such terms as “subsidies” and “cash for kids.” For one, that line of thinking presupposes full government discretion over resources God gives me to use for taking care of my family — as if the government were a parent giving me an allowance out of its all-encompassing coffers, rather than an association I am contributing to for the common good. In addition, those terms cast a shadow on the tax code’s honoring the role of families in our society. I wonder if the writers would have a similar approach to retirement investment, long-term capital gains, or other tax incentives.

And, for what it’s worth, I also disagree with the idea that this policy should be viewed simply as a political wedge or a partisan bargaining chip.

The basic intent of the child tax credit (CTC) is to help American families keep more of their resources to cover daily expenses — a policy all the more important in the face of recent price hikes on such basic necessities as food, housing, and fuel. It’s a policy that has been valued on both sides of the political aisle. In fact, the CTC was doubled to $2,000 per eligible child in 2017 by the GOP-led Congress as part its tax law overhaul, and then Democrats boosted that further, to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for kids under 6) last year.

That increase expired at the end of last year, but it appeared to have had an effect in supporting families, particularly the most needy. In September, the U.S. Census Bureau released data showing that the CTC lifted more than 5 million Americans — including 2.9 million children — out of poverty last year.

Emphasizing the same theme in an article last fall when the enhanced CTC was active, Kenneth Hodder, national commander of the Salvation Army, and Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said: “The rate of food insecurity has been significantly reduced, and families are now better able to provide the basic necessities that many of us take for granted. Fewer children are going to bed hungry or living with the fear of homelessness, and fewer parents are having to make agonizing decisions about whether to buy prescriptions or pay the electric bill.”

But not everyone liked the expanded CTC, specifically its distribution as direct monthly payments, its lack of work income requirements, and its full refundability to parents, whether or not they had any tax liability. Like the WSJ editorial board, some Heritage Foundation scholars viewed the expanded CTC as a “checks for children scam” — one intended to grow a welfare state even as its lack of work requirements undermined years of efforts to combat child poverty and to support two-parent households.

In a more recent article the Heritage researchers wrote, “If the Biden child tax credit — or any version of cash payments without firm ties to work and marriage — is made permanent, it will undermine the economy, self-support, social well-being, and upward mobility.”

They suggested that pro-life and pro-family members of Congress might be tempted to revive an enhanced CTC, but they should steer clear. However, I disagree with that sentiment.

Don’t misunderstand me. The values of hard work and of marriage should absolutely not be discouraged — quite the contrary. But that doesn’t mean the CTC itself should be cast aside. In fact, it’s an argument for why conservatives should engage in the conversation with a goal of getting much accomplished.

Again, the CTC in general is intended to honor families. It’s intended to help parents keep more of their resources invested in their kids rather than in government coffers. It’s no more a scheme than structuring the tax code to underscore any other perceived cultural good, such as home ownership, saving for retirement, investing in businesses, and more. And without good faith action, one might argue that Congress is setting up working families for a significant hike in tax liability that might come as a surprise in April for many that are already facing constricted personal budgets in the face of inflation.

Thankfully, a number of conservative leaders are open to a broader conversation on the CTC. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for example, views an expanded child tax credit for working families as a key to promoting a culture of life in post-Roe America.

“Working parents do more for America’s future than almost any other group — they deserve to keep more of their hard-earned income,” he wrote in June as he outlined his plan for the Providing for Life Act.

Rubio’s partner in the House on this bill, Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, similarly said: “I am committed to supporting moms both during pregnancy and once their babies are born. … The policies in the Providing for Life Act, particularly the expanded Child Tax Credit, will make a meaningful difference for women and families in Iowa and across the country.”

And a Family Research Council leader added: “Family Research Council helped author the original child tax credit in 1997 as a way for the federal government to alleviate the extra financial responsibilities placed upon parents raising children. This package expands upon that principle by reforming important health and welfare programs to be more supportive of life, and affirms the principle role that families play in American society.”

Clearly, there are good reasons for advocates of life and American families to pursue enhanced versions of the CTC rather than allowing it to lapse backwards in the face of inflation and budget crunches for households. In fact, some observers, such as Brad Wilcox, of the American Enterprise Institute; and Wells King, of American Compass, believe that this is a key moment for “conservative policymakers to define what it means to be truly pro-life and pro-family” — including providing a more generous CTC ($800 per month for pregnant women, $400 per month for children under 6, and $250 per month for children ages 6 to 18) to a broader set of working families.

Even with debates over work requirements and direct payments, there are those on both sides of the political aisle who seem interested in some manner of increased tax credit to help parents in today’s difficult financial climate. Will legislators be able to look beyond a partisan winner-take-all mentality and seek a way forward on the CTC and other provisions that help families keep and steward more of their hard-earned dollars in this difficult time? Will you pray so?

How are you praying for American families? Share your prayers and scriptures below.

Aaron Mercer is a contributing writer with two decades of experience in the Washington, D.C., public-policy arena. Photo Credit: Canva.

Comments (12) Print


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Darlene Estlow
December 5, 2022

Father, give wisdom to our leaders in spending money. May they not pass something that will resound to harm even though on the surface it sounds good!

Karen Alexander
December 4, 2022

I am opposed to any expapnsion of CTC. We need to be working to have our tax system overhauled and our government quit throwing money around to try and buy the taxpayers loyalty. More money is wasted through all these special programs that should go to lower the tax burden for all taxpayers. The government should not be playing favorites or picking winner and losers.

December 4, 2022

How wonderful! Cash for kids! I suppose many will use it as they did last year: to purchase ATVs (and sports cars) for the underage, unlicensed to fly down our streets on illegal vehicles through all stop signs at warp speed. I just pray for them, especially those who drag-race their cars over the bridge at the edge of town. Thankfully, there have only been two wrecks since all this. I pray our law enforcement will have what it takes to prevent more dangers to the common folk like me who follow the rules and injuries to those who have not yet been instructed in the laws and the reasoning behind those laws. I pray for our nation’s leaders, too, that they will make wise decisions.

Paulene Dougherty
December 3, 2022

I’m all for families keeping more of their hard earned money . Particularly helping single working moms. we stand for life, by all means lets help support that life. However I am suspicious of anything that comes from the government, particularly this administration. Why not simply raise the amount of the exemption for each child? this should also be a reduced tax on earned income. not a government hand out.

    December 3, 2022

    your suggestions make more sense to me
    raised 2 kids with no tax credits ;both have families they supported to adulthood;their children and grandchildren also are hard workers;they have self-respect that comes from hard work & NOT depending on government;
    We didn’t have much,but worked for all we had!

    Darlene Estlow
    December 5, 2022

    That would be better than cash!

December 3, 2022

The group that also needs a boost is the retired income-only person! We prepared for our retirement yet increased medicare payments and increased food and heating makes it less possible to have left over income after bills are paid. What tax relief is there for the retired? FATHER GOD thank YOU for supplying all of our need according to YOUR riches in Glory by CHRIST JESUS! The older as well as the newborn and all in-between! Help our income last from the beginning of the month to the end of the month without getting a part-time job! Thank YOU FATHER for always taking care of us all from birth to the elderly in JESUS MIGHTY NAME! Amen!

Christine Rhyner
December 3, 2022

This article makes some fair points and evidence to back up CTC. But we, the people are the federal government, the 50% in this country who even pay taxes. It has become our fiduciary responsibility to fund the now over one dozen social welfare programs, of which I consider CTC to be one. There’s food stamps, Section 8 Housing, free school lunches (if you can neither make the time for, nor afford to send your child to school with a sandwich, I fail to understand why you’re carrying a $900 smartphone), free daycare, free college, taxpayer funded healthcare –and for millions and millions of illegal aliens who unlawfully entered our country. (NYC just decided to charge their taxpayers one billion dollars for an illegal immigrant tent city with a 24 hour snack bar and culturally satisfying meals.)

I would argue that these programs de-incentivize marriage so that couples with children can have mothers apply for eligibility for these programs while their boyfriends work. There were also abuses of taxpayer funds by plenty of people who applied for and received covid relief monies when they hadn’t worked a job in five years, or had a string of jobs over several years they couldn’t manage to keep for more than a few months. I know several of them. My concern was that should this administration take power, these people would be paying ten, twenty times over the ‘relief’ and for the CTC they’ve received–and they are. You receive your $300 per child from the taxpayer, but your food bill has doubled, as well as that of the people who fund it. Your gas has doubled. Heating and cooling your home has drastically increased. And no, not everything is because of covid or war in Ukraine, but stems from foolish, detrimental, enabling choices made by people in power. Cost of living has exploded, yet few and far between are politicians that ever talk about bringing it down by slashing bureaucratic bloat, waste, fraud, benefits to children from 150 countries entering our country by the tens of thousands every month or pushing back hard on climate policies that are going to bankrupt us.

It wasn’t that long ago when a family of five or six, or in my case, nine, could live comfortably on a husband and father’s income while mothers stayed home to raise children–the real traditional family. With all of these ever-expanding programs, we still have people living in poverty, so that we have to come up with more programs, a never-ending cycle. I think these programs are also partially responsible for de-incentivizing thrift (good stewardship of money), creativity on how to manage money and human potential. We’ve become a culture of take-out, 75 inch flat screen TV’s, entertainment seekers, and demand for ever-increasing salaries for jobs that used to be stepping stones for teens entering the work force. I may sound harsh, but throughout the course of human history, it’s kind of been parents responsibility to take care of their own children, until, enter the welfare state some 50 yrs. ago or so.

    December 3, 2022

    Great insight Christine! I completely agree with you! You have nailed the problem in a nutshell! We were 8 kids, mom and dad and my mother never worked and we lived good on my daddy’s salary! Welfare popped up in the 60s with Lyndon Johnson and we’ve been spiraling down the financial rabbit hole ever since! FATHER GOD please restore good financial sense in Americans and in government! It is NOT the government’s responsibility to take care of us, nor for politicians to get rich in congress or public office on ever-increasing tax dollars! Please restore balance in our tax laws and let families keep more of their own income to take care of their families! And FATHER GOD please close our borders once and for all and send every illegal person back to their own country until they come to America LEGALLY in JESUS NAME! Amen!

    December 3, 2022

    How I wish folks in government handing out/wasting our hard earned tax dollars had your wisdom and realized every “benefit”given comes from us TAXPAYERS!The government does not generate one cent of income!I am horrified by the waste,fraud,evil uses of OUR money by thousands of useless government “workers”

Joseph Blanton
December 3, 2022

“If you want to ruin something, give it government money.” Ronald Reagan.

Darlene DeAngelis
December 3, 2022

Father God you are our resource not the government let us fully depend on you to guide us to what we need Lord God our full dependence should be on you not the government or this world in Jesus name I pray


Partner with Us

Intercessors for America is the trusted resource for millions of people across the United States committed to praying for our nation. If you have benefited from IFA's resources and community, please consider joining us as a monthly support partner. As a 501(c)3 organization, it's through your support that all this possible.

Dave Kubal
IFA President
Become a Monthly Partner


Click below to share this with others

Log in to Join the Conversation

Log in to your IFA account to start a discussion, comment, pray, and interact with our community.