U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who is running for Senate, speaks during a campaign event at Grant Park on Phoenix on January 28, 2023.

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who is running for Senate, speaks during a campaign event at Grant Park on Phoenix on January 28, 2023.

(Photo: Cassidy Araiza for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

As Paper Shows Benefits of Expanded Child Tax Credit, Sinema Challenger Gallego Says 'Bring It Back'

A Georgetown University economist tied pandemic stimulus and expanded child tax credit payments to reduced low birth weights, fewer preterm births, and higher Apgar scores.

"Bring it back."

That's what Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.)—who is running to replace Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) in 2024—said Friday in response to new research highlighting some benefits of the expanded child tax credit (CTC) of 2021.

Krista Ruffini, an economist and assistant professor at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy, shared a working paper about how Covid-19 pandemic stimulus and expanded CTC payments impacted infant health on the open access research platform SSRN.

After three rounds of stimulus checks throughout the first year of the pandemic, households with children received $250-$300 per child each month for the last six months of 2021 through the CTC expansion included in the American Rescue Plan relief package.

Ruffini found that "increased resources during pregnancy improve child well-being, and that unconditional cash transfers have large effects on infant health." Specifically, she connected an additional $1,000 with "increasing Apgar scores 0.02 points, reducing very low birth weight by at least 0.6 percentage points, and reducing preterm births by approximately 3 percentage points."

"Payment timing is also important: Resources received during the final months of a pregnancy yield a greater health benefit than those received earlier on," the economist explained. "Patterns in prenatal care and maternal health suggest that these benefits to infants accrue through both investments in children as well as improvements in the prenatal environment."

"The improvements in infant health documented in this paper are consistent with previous work showing that families used the payments on essential goods and services and to improve their financial position. It builds on this literature by showing that these improvements in material hardship benefited the next generation in ways that are expected to yield long-term benefits," she wrote. "These findings are particularly relevant as dozens of U.S. cities are piloting guaranteed income programs and policymakers contemplate a permanent expansion of the federal child tax credit."

Despite the well-documented benefits of the boosted CTC, including a dramatic drop in child poverty, congressional Democrats' efforts to lengthen the period of the program or even make it permanent have been unsuccessful.

After long joining with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to thwart various priorities of Democratic lawmakers and President Joe Biden, Sinema formally ditched the party in December and became an Independent. Although Sinema has not officially announced whether she will seek reelection next year, Gallego's campaign has gained national attention since launching in late January.

Throughout his campaign, Gallego has shared his experience growing up poor, as one of four children being raised by a single mother, and accused Sinema of fighting "for the interests of Big Pharma and Wall Street at our expense."

As Gallego's campaign said Friday:

Sen. Sinema helped block the expanded child tax credit from being included in the Inflation Reduction Act—essentially giving a thumbs up to 3.7 million children living in poverty. While, simultaneously, she fought to protect the carried interest tax loophole—a favorite of her hedge fund donors.

Growing up as the child of a poor, single mother, Ruben understands what the child tax credit means for millions of hard-working Americans and their children. That is why he has always been and remains a firm and vocal supporter of the child tax credit—because working families deserve to make ends meet and no child should ever have to worry about where their next meal will come from. In the Senate, Ruben will always fight for working people—because that's who he is and where he comes from.

While Sinema weighs whether to run for Senate again, her campaign filings for the first quarter of this year revealed Friday that she only raised $2.1 million, compared with Gallego's $3.7 million since launching his campaign.

Sinema "brought in funds from several prominent Republican donors and Wall Street sources. She raised more than $280,000 from employees of Blackstone, the private investment company, and $196,000 from employees of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm," Politico reported. "Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci also gave her campaign the maximum $3,300, while the No Labels Problem Solvers PAC gave $10,000."

Gallego's campaign highlighted that less than $6,000 of Sinema's funds for January through March came from small-dollar donors, while 98% of those who have given to his campaign are small-dollar donors.

"I'm proud to be running a people-powered campaign where 98% of my donors are small-dollar donors who chipped in less than $100," Gallego said. " It's unfortunate that Sinema has pursued a different strategy: catering to a small group of rich donors."

"It doesn't seem to be getting her very far," he added. "At the end of the day: this seat is not going to be bought by a few rich guys on Wall Street. It's going to be won with the support of regular, everyday Arizonans—and I'm proud to have them in my corner."

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