As Congress weighs the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024, a bipartisan tax agreement between Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Jason Smith (R-MO), we at Economic Security Project Action, informed by research from our partners at Navigator Research, see this as an opportunity to frame the Child Tax Credit not solely as cutting childhood poverty, but as a cornerstone of a broader progressive economic agenda to address lowering the cost of living.
Last November, in the Navigating the Battleground survey, Navigator Research found that progressives had an opportunity to reframe their popular economic agenda in terms of a focus on bringing down costs and improving the economy for everyday people, all while driving a contrast against unpopular, extremist Republican policy proposals. Now, the agreement before Congress is a perfect example to make this case: in 2021, the Child Tax Credit was expanded with Democratic votes and united Republican opposition. Since then, while many families have experienced economic volatility, nearly all Democrats have fought to expand the Child Tax Credit, while most Republicans have instead fought to cement and expand corporate tax breaks that had expired.
Today, Economic Security Project Action, in partnership with Navigator Research, is releasing new data with two key points for supporters to champion if they are to successfully advocate for a progressive economic agenda while opponents continue to shill for corporations and the wealthy at every opportunity:
- OVERWHELMING SUPPORT FOR THE CHILD TAX CREDIT HAS GROWN EVEN WITHOUT MONTHLY CHECKS.
This new research finds that 69% of voters support the expanded Child Tax Credit, with overwhelming support across demographics. When Navigator last surveyed voters on their favorability toward the Child Tax Credit in August 2021, only 45% of Independents and 43% of Republicans were favorable. Now, with a question on the bipartisan agreement in front of them, voters across the political spectrum have indicated they are also in bipartisan agreement: 80% of Democrats, 64% of Independents, and 59% of Republicans support the proposal to expand and improve the Child Tax Credit. While support has remained consistently strong among Democrats, as well as key demographics like Black and Hispanic voters, it is the notable 19-point growth between Independents’ support and favorability and the 16-point growth for Republicans that gives us reason to believe that expanding the Child Tax Credit has grown to have universal appeal, even in its absence.
- SHOULD THE DEAL FAIL, AMBIGUITY AROUND WHO IS TO BLAME PROVIDES A POWERFUL OPENING FOR CTC ADVOCATES TO EMERGE THE WINNERS.
Since last year, Navigator data has consistently shown that Democrats have passed an economic policy agenda that is really popular — just deeply unknown. That has implications on who voters credit for passing legislation or who voters blame for gridlock or even voting bills down.
Should the current proposal to expand the Child Tax Credit fail, our research indicates more voters blame Republicans (28%) than Democrats (17%), but a majority blame both parties or do not know (56%). Regardless of the outcome of the Wyden-Smith proposal, this divided opinion on accountability gives a window for progressives and moderates to champion our economic agenda and our approaches to bringing down costs, squarely contrasting it against unpopular, extremist conservative policy proposals. We imagine that sounds like:
If the Child Tax Credit is expanded:
We fought to put more money in your pocket, and we won. We expanded the Child Tax Credit to directly help you manage the rising costs of raising a family, to make it easier to afford essentials like groceries or rent, because we understand that every dollar counts in today’s economy. This is a win for the backbone of America — the working- and middle-class — and it’s only a down payment: we are still fighting to make sure corporations and billionaires pay their fair share, so that we can make the Child Tax Credit permanent and monthly and lower costs even more for even more families.
If the tax agreement fails, or when talking about a member of Congress who voted against it:
Republicans blocked an opportunity to increase the Child Tax Credit and directly help families struggling with the cost of living. We were ready to put more money in your hands, but the failure of this bill shows their clear preference for corporate interests over the needs of American families. While they have their sights set on making tax breaks for wealthy businesses and billionaires permanent, we have our sights set on delivering for the backbone of America — working- and middle-class families. We are fighting to make sure corporations pay what they owe in taxes, and we’ll fight for a permanent expansion of the monthly Child Tax Credit to help more families afford essentials like groceries and rent.
The stump speeches and ads can practically write themselves. The popularity of the Child Tax Credit has grown since 2021, and based on our new data with Navigator Research, we believe this moment is the opportunity for CTC supporters to re-introduce it to the American people and re-introduce the party as its champion. In success, progressives and moderates can celebrate their commitment to an economy that works for all people, not just the wealthy few; and in adversity, they can reiterate their resolve to advocate for policies that prioritize families over wealthy corporate gains. The Child Tax Credit is a symbol that can be used to communicate our dedication to improving the lives of American families, and this research today indicates that championing it will resonate deeply with the core values of the electorate.