Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release


Karen Conner,

Press Release

Designing a US Public Child Benefit That Respects Children and Families


The United States provides two major child benefits through the individual income tax system: the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Both systems force families to run through a confusing gauntlet of bureaucracy just to receive support that’s too late or too stingy. Other wealthy nations prove it doesn’t have to be that way.

As Congress considers how to reform child benefits, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) releases today, The Progressive Case for a Unified Child Benefit, by Senior Policy Fellow Shawn Fremstad, that proposes a well-designed, politically feasible child benefit plan. The report offers a set of criteria that any child benefit system under consideration should meet and uses those criteria to assess the current system, the temporary system found in the American Rescue Plan Act, and two other proposed plans.

“Any child benefit reform should function as a public investment in our nation’s children, with simple and efficient access that treats children and parents with equal concern and respect,” said Fremstad.

The report evaluates various other plans for how well they meet the criteria of a well-designed child benefit that is (1) broadly universal, (2) adequate on both an annual and monthly basis, (3) simple, and (4) visible in a way that creates positive "policy feedback loops" over time.

In addition to the CTC, EITC, and the temporary system in the American Rescue Plan Act, the report assesses two recent proposed plans, from the right and left, respectively: Senator Romney’s Family Security Act and the People’s Policy Project’s American Child Benefit.

The main strength of the Romney plan is that it provides a broadly universal, simple, monthly benefit without an employment test or an upfront means test. The fundamental weakness is that it provides lower annual benefits than the American Rescue Plan to a substantial number of lower-income families with earnings, particularly working solo parents with no children under age 6, and provides higher benefits to a substantial number of higher-income families.

The People’s Policy Project has proposed an American Child Benefit that has the strengths of the Romney plan without most of its weaknesses. However, its weakness is that some employed parents who have one child and currently receive both the maximum EITC and the CTC would receive a lower child benefit than they would under the American Rescue Plan.

“The Unified Child Benefit plan outlined in our report builds on the strengths of all three plans, while addressing their weaknesses, and remaining politically feasible in the near-term. It provides a simple, universal, and adequate child benefit that is visible in a way that builds public trust and reduces class divisions,” explains Fremstad.


The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

Trump's CIA Considered Kidnapping or Assassinating Assange: Report

"The Biden administration must drop its charges against Assange immediately."

Jake Johnson ·

'Carrying Water for Big Corporations': Sinema Faces Backlash for Opposing Tax Hikes

"Make no mistake, if she sides with her wealthy donors and kills popular investments to jump-start the economy, everyday families—including across Arizona—will pay the price."

Jake Johnson ·

UN Chief Warns Humanity Is 'Unacceptably Close to Nuclear Annihilation'

"Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Jake Johnson ·

Coalition Slams UN Food Summit for Peddling 'Corporate-Led False Solutions' to Hunger

"The U.N. has finally made it clear what 'multilateralism' is all about—paying lip service to the people while skewing priorities for the interests of imperialists and monopoly capitalists."

Jake Johnson ·

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo