Poverty is a state of life that I have been intimately familiar with for the better part of my four decades on this planet. At first glance, Senator Mitt Romney’s Family Security Act sounds like a solution to elevate 5.1 million people out of poverty. To put that into perspective, Urban Institute reports that due to the pandemic 29.3 million people are living in poverty in the United States. The ‘deficit-neutral’ plan pays for itself by gutting current lifelines extended to those who are poor.
Under the Family Security Act, parents of kids ages 0 to 5 would get $350 per month, or $4,200 a year. Parents of kids ages 6 to 17 would get $250 per month, or $3,000 a year. Parents with multiple kids could get a maximum of $1,250 per month or $15,000 a year. Upon reading an article on Vox, I immediately questioned why the government wanted to pay child support.
To pay for the Family Security Act, Romney recommends cutting head-of-household filing status, the child and dependent care tax credit, temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) welfare program, and state and local tax deduction (SALT) in the income tax. The current earned income tax credit (EITC) would be changed to a flat credit worth up to $1,000 per working adult.
The fact that I’ve hovered around the poverty line for the majority of my life proves that I’m not an expert in economics. As a mother who raised four kids as a single parent, I’ll admit that an additional $1400 a month would have made a world of difference to me. The stress of raising children with an extremely limited budget often supplemented by government assistance is one no parent should have to carry.
Even with that history, I still don’t understand. Why would anyone create more incentive for people to accept their current situation, procreate, and perpetuate the cycle of poverty? Generations now, will we still be paying men and women to have children while encouraging them to stay below the poverty lines because no new opportunities for change were created with the blanket monetary solution?
As children age out of the Family Security Act, what will happen to the parents who relied on government assistance for survival? Poverty isn’t just about money. With the additional income provided to the parents who qualify, what other benefits that are based on income will they lose? The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is income based. How many will be driven off that program because of their new monthly income? Will it balance out and leave them in the same position? Medicaid is also based on income.
I believe we have to figure out how to create more economic opportunities to combat poverty and stop shaming the poor for being born into it. The social stigmas we’ve attached to how much a person makes is shameful. The collective society pre-COVID saw entry level workers as somehow inferior because their job wasn’t glamorous, but during COVID, we value each and every one of them and call them essential.
I don’t have any solutions. I’m not a politician so I do not understand what it must be like to carry the weight of others on my conscience. Even when my life was bleak and I played roulette with which bills had to be paid versus which ones could be paid in two weeks, I never wanted someone to hand me money on a consistent basis. I wanted a new business to open up that had a daycare and hired single mothers with bags under their eyes. Poverty doesn’t mean that people cannot or will not think for themselves, it means they have not found a way out of the circumstances they were born into.