Think of the children, Washington — Analysis

Nearly 4 million American children were forced to live in poverty within a month. Average Americans are largely ignored by the elite.

One of the most tired clichés in American political discourse isThink of the children’.This phrase can be used by all major political parties. It is used for rallying support of everything. Strengthened child labor laws, the anti-abortion movement, mothers against violent video games, keeping schools open during the Covid-19 pandemic, you name it, it’s always about ‘the children’.

American citizens can afford it as well ‘think of the children’ when discussing political programs, one would think that American politicians must, logically, enact policies that benefit the country’s children. These moral principles, as in Washington are often contradictory. 

Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy recently found that Washington’s failure to address childhood poverty is evident in a new study. Nearly four million children became poor last month following the expiration of the CTC (expanded child tax credit), which was part of the Covid-19 temporary stimulus package. 

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Those payments not hitting families’ bank accounts in January rose the poverty rate from 12.1% in December to 17% in January. This shows that President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus, which included an expanded CTC, was a lifeline to children and their families. It gave parents $250 for every child between 6 and 17 years old and $300 per month for any child under six. 

This program reached 36,000,000 households, and had a total of 61 million kids. Its success was universally acknowledged. While it was set to be extended through Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) bill, which includes a range of social and climate-related spending, Democratic Senator for West Virginia Joe Manchin bowed out at the last minute – though his state had been one of the greatest beneficiaries of the expanded CTC. 

Inflation fears led to Manchin removing BBB from the public eye. He has stated that he would be willing to collaborate with Senate colleagues in restoring CTC limits for low-income families and the reimposing work requirements. Privately, Manchin reportedly told his colleagues that he believes parents are spending the extra cash on drugs – a claim that is not backed by any evidence. 

The latter position, by the man who is essentially the gatekeeper for all major legislation in Congress, reflects the contempt that the country’s elite feel for working-class families, including their children. The US media have been focused on rising crime rates in recent weeks. Recently, New York City’s Police Department was embroiled after publishing a controversial report. (now-deleted) tweetThis is a massive crime bust that involved people stealing baby formula, diapers and other household items.

Crime is an unfortunate thing. However, elite media fails to see that America has such a dire economic environment and that people are so unable to make ends meet, breaking the law is their only option. These people aren’t just choosing to commit crimes out of sheer boredom. They are actually being forced into crime by their material surroundings. These facts show that laws and institutions do not help anyone get out of poverty.

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Instead of trying to solve the antecedent problems of crime, e.g., endemic poverty, there’s now a massive campaign to delegitimize social safety nets by tying them to culture-war politics. And while that’s somewhat reasonable, because there is an overlap between the people who are calling for increased social services for the working class and those who are in favor of social justice, it’s clearly designed to promote policies that just don’t work. 

For example, this campaign is trying to blame the effort to reshape police forces into actual public safety organizations  (‘defund the police’) for the rise in crime. They want to double down on ‘supporting’ the police, expanding prosecutorial power and, inevitably, filling prisons. The problem is that if filling prisons meant more safety, the US would already be the safest country in the world since it has the largest prison population, but it isn’t. 

This is both a justification for ongoing human rights abuses, which any objective observer can see the country’s inequality as, and the prelude to even more brutal human rights abuses if Congress decides to enact legislation to expand incarceration in response to the social unrest brought on by its policies. 

Inequality in America is a policy decision. There are things that could be done to solve it – and Congress is specifically choosing not to do those things and instead opting for a Band-Aid that will inevitably break apart even more families. Consider reducing some of the proposed $770 trillion defense budget. If politicians truly want to ‘think of the children’Then they would have to address the issue of childhood poverty.

Statements, opinions and views expressed in this column do not reflect those of RT.

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