Josh Hawley

Stop Using the IRS To Subsidize Parenting

In response to Biden's child tax credits, Sen. Josh Hawley proposes paying parents $1,000 per month—if they're married—and $500 per month if they're single.

|

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), he of perpetual bad ideas, has a new one: welfare for all American parents, with a bonus payment contingent on whether they're married. As with so many of Hawley's ideas, this one manages to combine the worst of the left and the right.

Hawley's plan comes at a time when both Republicans and Democrats have been pushing more government benefits for parents. The right tends to want more women to stay home with kids, while the left aims to get more moms into the workforce—but in both cases, the goal is to engineer family and work structures through federal fiscal policy. President Joe Biden has called for extending a temporary boost to the child tax credit that was passed as part of coronavirus recovery spending. Sen. Mitt Romney (R–Utah), meanwhile, suggests paying parents $250 to $350 per month per child.

Hawley would make the parent payment $1,000 per monthif parents are married and file a joint tax return. Single parents, or a married parent who files taxes separately from a spouse, would get $500 per month.

You might object that single parents are more likely to need financial help. But Hawley's plan isn't based on need so much as it's based on incentivizing a certain sort of family structure.

"To receive the credit, single-parent households must report prior-year earnings equal to or greater than earned income from 20 hours per week of work at the federal minimum wage, an earnings threshold of $7,540. Married parents that file a joint tax return must reach the same earnings threshold. This creates an explicit marriage bonus of 100 percent," Hawley's website states.

The money—which could be received in an annual lump sum or through monthly payments from the IRS—would go to parents of children under age 13, with no upper income limit for receiving the payment.

Hawley makes no secret of the fact that his marriage bonus is meant to create more stay-at-home parents. "Many parents say they would prefer to stay home with their young children, but simply can't afford it," writes Hawley in a Fox News op-ed, decrying tax laws that "explicitly promote both commercial daycare and two-income households." Parents should not be "treated worse by the tax code for choosing to do the work of raising kids at home."

Many libertarians would agree with that last statement—in fact, they would prefer that tax codes and federal policies stop favoring any particular marital choices, childbearing choices, career choices, or family structures.

But this isn't what Hawley has in mind. Though he speaks the language of choice ("federal policy should let families decide and respect the range of child-rearing preferences held by American families," he writes at Fox), he's simply trying to replace one form of social engineering with another.

Hawley also calls his idea a "tax cut," but that's not really accurate, either. Since it's refundable, people can get the money in excess of what they owe in taxes, making it more like a cash subsidy from the IRS for parenting.

"Some proponents have tried portraying a child allowance as fiscally conservative," noted Naomi Schaefer Riley and Angela Rachidi in a February article for Reason. "But it is hard to understand how the federal government sending monthly checks to almost every child in the country…is fiscally prudent, even if that spending is replacing other welfare programs."

This has become typical for a certain segment of Republicans, who are willing to give up free-market principles when they conflict with their desire to control cultural outcomes.

The modern GOP is becoming "one that combines the cultural impulses of Pat Buchanan and the economic aspirations of Ross Perot," suggested Riley and Rachidi. "The growing natalist movement on the right—which includes but is not limited to religious conservatives—says that it's time we do something about declining fertility rates in this country. Some conservatives are even praising proposals from think tanks with socialist ideas."

Hawley's new plan is akin to the child tax credit favored by Democrats.

Democrats are already talking about making permanent a child tax credit passed as part of the most recent pandemic spending bill. As it stands, parents this year will get a one-time, fully refundable tax credit of up to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 per child under age 6. (This is up from a $2,000 child tax credit approved by the Trump administration, a $1,000 credit approved by the Obama administration, and a $500 credit approved by the Clinton administration.) In addition, Biden wants to provide federally subsidized child care and public pre-schools.

Like Hawley, Democrats aim to engineer certain social ideals through welfare programs and tax codes. "We want parents to be in the workforce, especially mothers," Domestic Policy Council head Susan Rice said earlier this year.

The government could get out of the way and let Americans keep more of the money they earn regardless of whether or not they have children, regardless of their career choices, and regardless of their relationship status. But neither Democrats nor Republicans seem content to be neutral about family arrangements.

NEXT: Is This a COVID-19 'Smoking Gun,' or Is it a Damp Squib?

Josh Hawley Tax credits Marriage Biden Administration Joe Biden Parenting Children Taxes Welfare Congress Government Spending

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

Please to post comments

58 responses to “Stop Using the IRS To Subsidize Parenting

  1. tax credits are not welfare

    1. Except that it is a refundable tax credit, so depending on what one owes in income tax, you can end up with a negative tax balance for the year. So while it might not be welfare for those that pay more in taxes than the refundable part of the credit, it is still welfare for the rest.

      1. “negative tax balance”

        Which you will then owe to the IRS on tax day. The same thing could happen if your deductions are too low. Do you consider people who deduct too little from each paycheck to be welfare recipients? Same thing.

        1. Sorry, I misunderstood. You’re saying that they could hypothetically receive a refund after paying no federal tax. That may be a valid criticism but it still doesn’t make it welfare. Welfare is constant and has all kinds of perverse incentives that tax credits don’t.

          1. It says as much in the article. Refundable tax credits (or partially refundable tax credits, like the current Child Tax Credit), unlike non-refundable tax credits, can be paid to the taxpayer, even if they have no tax liability. For example, if a taxpayer owes $1,000 in federal income tax and has a $3,000 refundable tax credit, that additional $2,000 can be paid to them. Non-refundable credits can only be used to reduce tax liability to zero.

            It is redistribution from high-income earners to low-income earners (the Child Tax Credit requires that you make some income, I think $2500, IIRC), so I would think that qualifies as welfare to a degree.

            1. Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its ss earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
              on this page…..VISIT HERE

            2. It’s a subsidy for low-income parents and a tax-break for high income parents.

          2. It’s another redistribution of wealth by another name. While technically probably not Welfare, it is giving one person someone else’s money and therefore equally as douchebaggy.

          3. It is your opinion that refundable tax credits aren’t welfare. It is my opinion that they are welfare by another name. Earned Income Credit is also welfare.

          4. Arbitrary and inconsistent welfare payments are still welfare payments – and based what I’ve heard from friends that have been on formal welfare, payments issued by the welfare bureaucracy are often more arbitrary and inconsistent than this plan would be.

    2. They are if I still have to pay full price for other people’s kids schooling. Pay for your own damn kids and tell them to stay off my lawn.

      1. You definitely shouldn’t have to pay for other people’s schooling. You’ll get no argument from me there. Privatize schools and make the cost of education a tax credit. The only ones who wouldn’t like that are teachers unions.

        1. tax credit for partial cost of education, at least

        2. I’m big time sick of the Teachers Unions. Teach math, science, English, history (with warts and all), computer skills. East Asian kids and Indian kids destroy American kids in math and science, because US teachers don’t care or a mostly incapable of teaching. A Stanford professor said something dumb about math being racist.

      2. They are if I still have to pay full price for other people’s kids schooling. Pay for your own damn kids and tell them to stay off my lawn.

        Vote against spending plans that require an ever-increasing youth population, like SS and the ACA, and you’ve got yourself a deal. I’ll yell at my kids to get off other peoples’ lawns for free.

    3. Author is a bitter childless hag. Bought into the whole “don’t have a child until you achieve your dreams” fiction. In doing so, she missed out on motherhood and is now a dour, neurotic old maid

  2. The debate long ago switched from ‘if’ the feds should pay for stuff to ‘how much’ to pay, and ‘for what’.
    Something fun to do when you aren’t outside vaccinated and double masked: Take a list of the current federal government cabinet level positions, and a list of the thing the US Constitution authorizes the federal government to do, and try to make a one for one match.
    (no fair using the general welfare or commerce clauses)

    1. I have had my share of empty/null sets in my life

  3. Pay for your own fucking kids.

    1. As ,one as those kids will not have to pay for your retirement? Right?

  4. In the interest of “equity” we need reparations for non parents for all that extra tax they had to pay. Support reparations for non breeding people.

    1. Just have kids, bro.

  5. BREAKING NEWS
    Seventy-Two Killed Resisting Gun Confiscation In Massachusetts.

    National Guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed by elements of a Para-military extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.

    Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement.

    Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices. The governor, who described the group’s organizers as “criminals,” issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government’s efforts to secure law and order.

    The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed wide-spread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons.

    Gage issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting in early this month between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms.

    One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that “none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily.”

    Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily-armed extremists who had been tipped off regarding the government’s plans.

    During a tense standoff in the Lexington town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists.

    Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange.

    Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces over matched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.

    Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. The governor also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government troops.

    Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have been identified as “ringleaders” of the extremist faction, remain at large.

    1. Did you write that? If not, link?

  6. Breaking News

    To Ismail Haniya, and the leaders and operatives of Hamas:

    We, the people of Israel, owe you a huge debt of gratitude. You have succeeded where we have failed. Because never before, in the history of the modern State of Israel, has the Jewish people been so united, like one person with one heart. Everyone in Israel, from Left to Right, secular and religious, in united in the knowledge that there is no accommodating an enemy that is sworn to the genocide of our people.

    And now, as you continue to launch deadly missiles indiscriminately, intended to maim and murder as many civilians as possible, while you take cowardly refuge behind your own civilians – you continue to inspire us to hold strongly onto our unity. Whatever disputes we Jews may have with each other, we now know that we have one common goal: we will defeat you.

    But we are offering you now one last chance. Within 24 hours, all rocket fire – and I mean all rocket fire – will cease. Completely. Forever.

    I give you formal notice that our tanks are massed at the Gaza border, with artillery and air support at the ready. We have already dropped leaflets over the northern parts of the Gaza strip, warning civilians of our impending arrival, and that they should evacuate southward, forthwith. If you fail to meet our ultimatum, we are coming in, and, with God’s help, this time we will not leave. Every centimeter of land that we conquer will be annexed to Israel, so that there will *never* be another attack launched at our civilians from there.

    Even so, we will continue to keep the door open to allow you to surrender gracefully. The moment you announce that you are laying down arms, we will halt our advance, and there we will draw our new borders. If you continue to attack our citizens, we will continue to roll southwards, driving you out of territory that you will never again contaminate with your evil presence.

    It pains me deeply that your civilians will be made homeless. But we did not choose this war; you did. And if our choice is between allowing our citizens to be targeted mercilessly by your genocidal savagery, versus turning your civilians into refugees, I regret that we must choose the latter. If only you loved your people as much as you hate ours, this war would never have happened.

    To the rest of the world: Israel has tired of your ceaseless chidings that we should “show restraint”. When you have your entire population under constant missile fire from an implacable enemy whose stated goal is the murder of every man, woman and child in your land, then you may come and talk to us about “restraint”. Until then, we respectfully suggest that you keep your double standards to yourselves. This time, Hamas has gone too far, and we will do whatever we have to in order to protect our population.

    Hamas, once again, I thank you for bringing our people together with such clarity of mind and unity of purpose. The people of Israel do not fear the long road ahead. Am Yisrael Chai.

  7. Romney can pay with his own fucking money.

    1. Romney knows Mormons will take advantage of it the most.

      We should be wiping the Mormons off the face of the earth. Not incentiving them to breed more.

      I’m for the government paying bounties for Mormon scalps though.

      1. Donny and Marie love you.

        1. You know them?

  8. Get the amoral billionaires to pay more. Throw in some high rolling millionaires as well. Fuckers like to fuck shit up in this country, they can damn well pay for it.

    1. Millionaires and billionaires already pay more than 90% of all federal income taxes. It’s amazing to me how relevant these lyrics still are after 50 years:
      “Everywhere is freaks and hairies
      Dykes and fairies, tell me, where is sanity?
      Tax the rich, feed the poor
      ‘Til there are no rich no more…”

  9. Don’t breed’em if you can’t feed’em!

    Those deadbeat parents having children for which they cannot fully and independently care are at once the biggest herd of pigs at the statist trough and the providers, in an inverse proportion to their not being providers to their own piglets, to it of the state’s most salable excuse “… for the children …” for its Blob like growth.

  10. Man, I’d love to see all the “free marketeers” complain when even more of the workforce stays home. They’re already bitching about having to pay any kind of living wage (“boo hoo, no one wants to work for my pittance”) so I can’t imagine their anger when the labor pool would dry up even more.

    1. Us free market people are absoulty willing to pay fair wages, but the minimum wage prevents that. For instance you are not worth a single penny.

    2. Actually, to my experience, it is the EBTers who have been complaining that they can’t get their barrel of Utz Cheese Puffs because the store workers are getting stimulus checks and “calling in scared” i.e. “I’m afraid I don’t want to work.”

      This whole idea of UBI “get-paid-to-exist” checks is one big Orobouro snake that is chasing it’s own tail, catching it, and eating itself.

  11. Doesn’t sound complicated or intrusive enough. Can we work in regular medical tests and some green energy credits?

  12. Wow sounds like bipartisan support for me paying for Mormons to fuck and breed like rabbits.

    You got progressives who love anything if it’s free. Moderate Mormon scumbags like Romney who knows Mormons will benefit the most. Finally traitorous scum like Hawley who’ll support it if he can wrap his culture war BS in it.

    1. If you pay taxes, you pay for things far worse than Mormons.

      1. There’s nothing worse than Mormons.

  13. Breeding into poverty is a human right.

  14. Neal Boortz’ idea of using aspirin for birth control comes to mind here: You take the aspirin and hold it between your knees…

  15. Sorry, but this article is made to sound like Married folk are getting preferential treatment. It merely says if a couple is married and files jointly, they claim the $1,000, but if single, or filing separately they would each get $500. I.e. they get the same amount of money using the not-uncommon method of splitting the benefit when filing separately.

    1. In split households, only one parent can claim the credit (the one with custody). You can only claim dependents on one tax filing.

  16. Here we are again; playing the “what’s fair in communist USA” and their government controlled resource redistribution. 40% Fed-Gov Communist Land, 40% Fed-Gov Communist money; 10% away from loosing ALL individual freedom and justice. 10% away from being more communist than capitalist. 10% away from Government FULL-ON Dictation.

  17. I wonder what Josh Hawley and those like him would think if their idea was adopted and more men than women ended up staying home. The idea here is for one parent to stay home, but it may make more sense for some families to send mom to work and have dad stay home. Would they still embrace the idea or would they be irritated and frustrated. What if the idea were adopted and in 25 year we were back to one parent working and one at home, but now its split 50-50 which parent is home. Interesting idea.

    1. If someone is motivated to have kids because they can get a handout from the government, they will likely not make good parents. The kids may well grow up neglected or worse.

      As usual, government is stupid. Leave people alone. Trust me, there will still be kids around. There’s a reason reproduction is called a biological drive.

      1. I certainly agree that that the government should not directly subsidize parenting and I also agree that we are long way from the danger of not having enough people.

        I also think that the world is changing and this measure will not force us back to a 1950s Leaver it to Beaver family.

    2. Politicians like Josh Hawley want Equality of Outcome for all family structures and like Romania’s Nicholai Ceauşescu, they want their 200-million-man Macedonian Army for whatever social engineering schemes they desire. So, no, they’d still be pissed if things didn’t go their way.

  18. Headline should have stopped after the first four words.

    1. Even shorter, just: Stop the IRS.

  19. I bet poor single moms that just seem to bang out the kids from an endless supply of men that won’t stay around are rejoicing at the possibility of making bank without leaving the house…ever.

  20. The FDA fails to comprehend the simple fact that it is cheaper to deregulate most forms of birth control and, if necessary, subsidize them, than it is to pay for a burgeoning idiocracy.

    Government believes that they are breeding future taxpayers. This is proven to be fallacy.

    Current welfare policy prohibits tubal ligations for women under 25, no matter how many children they have and no matter how much they want the ligation. Even those are not always failsafe–my long-dead grandmother is still local legend because she had three more children *after* the ligation.

    Yes, the Pill causes blood clots in smokers. The cigarettes that the idiocrats purchase instead of contraception cause cancer, they are not impressed by that, and Medicaid, subsidizing tobacco and alcohol companies, will pay truckloads of money for their final month in the hospital.

    Deregulate everything except IUDs and allow clinics to install those. Teach the drug ‘ho’s to use diva cups and diaphragms for period sex, and drop the word into the conversation that the diaphragm also prevents pregnancy and reduces STDs.

    Then audit the hell out of the programs that distribute contraceptives because the health departments will hand them out to middle-class friends instead of the folks who need them, just as they did with the first runs of COVID-19 vaccine.

    This will keep tax credits, subsidized groceries, and other money out of the meth man’s pocket.

    1. Ever hear of Occam’s Razor? The simplest solution is the best. Let parents pay their own freight and more people will be going under the surgeon’s razor for the ol’ snip-snip and tie-tie.

  21. Awesome article

    Now do EBT cards.

  22. The modern GOP is becoming “one that combines the cultural impulses of Pat Buchanan and the economic aspirations of Ross Perot,”

    Ummm, yeah, I think not.
    The Buchanan style cultural conservatives have less power then they did 30 or 40 years ago.
    And apparently no one cares about the deficit and the national debt, unlike Perot.

  23. Bad enough the left wants to give out money for not working and any other leftist cause and not we have the right trying to push universal income. GEEZE! What ever happened to fiscal conservatism.

  24. Remember when women’s rights and gay marriage was going to lead to more freedom and happiness and totally not affect birth rates?

    Neither do I.

  25. There are economists who argue that we must encourage Americans to have more children. If we don’t then many jobs will go unfilled in the future.

    Countries like Japan and Italy are seeing people having fewer children. Japan is dealing with large numbers of men who have no interest in children or marriage. They simply want to live in their parents’ basements, watch porn, play video games, and drink.

    I can tell you that as an only child, dealing with elderly parents is a pain. There is no one to take over, when your schedule is full with your spouse and kids.

    And, if each generation is smaller, that makes Social Security the ultimate Ponzi scheme.

Comments are closed.