Social Security For Kids

[ Posted Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021 – 15:40 UTC ]

I just read one of the most hopeful articles I think I've ever read about the Democratic Party. Nancy Pelosi and the White House are making a huge push to get all Democrats to get out there and toot their own horns. This really shouldn't be all that amazing -- it shouldn't even be news because it should be so routine -- but it really is, since Democrats have long been particularly bad in this regard. Republicans know how to settle on one songbook and then endlessly sing the same thing from it -- for just weeks on end. But Democrats have never had that singular focus, which is part of the reason why I became a blogger in the first place (in the hopes that they would, eventually).

But to get back to that article... here's what The Hill just reported:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is challenging rank-and-file Democrats to get more aggressive in selling voters back home on President Biden's economic agenda, specifically touting a provision providing thousands of dollars to working families through child tax credits.

The White House on Monday had launched a "day of action" promoting the expanded child benefit, which passed in March as part of Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and is set to take effect on July 15.

During a closed-door meeting Wednesday in the basement of the Capitol, Pelosi sought to build on that message.

Calling the tax credit "Social Security for kids," the Speaker pressed fellow Democrats to become better messengers for both the benefits they've already enacted this year, and the additional relief they're fighting to adopt under the president's enormous infrastructure proposal.

That is a brilliant way to frame it -- Social Security for kids. Everyone already knows and loves Social Security, so hitch it to that particular wagon and half the work is already done!

I sincerely hope Democrats can deliver on this media blitz. There were a few jaw-dropping quotes from Democrats -- jaw-dropping because this stuff really should be kind of "Politics 101" -- and they really should already know it down to their bones:

"We've done the hard work. We're doing what we're supposed to do and what we promised the American people," Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) told The Hill. "But if we don't message it, nobody will know that we did it. No one will understand why they're getting the benefits that they're getting."

"She [Pelosi] was suggesting that we need to break through the news cycles. It's our responsibility to tell folks what we're doing, and she doesn't think that we're doing that enough," he continued. "Get out there and tell the news and the media -- they will cover it if you tell them."

. . .

"We need to make sure that every single American, every single constituent that we represent, understands what's coming on July 15... when the child tax credit will take effect," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "It will lift more than half the American children who are currently in poverty out of poverty."

It's such an easy message, too. For once, Democrats passed a law that is almost universal and will have real, tangible benefits to almost every parent in the country. And selling it as a partisan issue is pathetically easy, because Republicans set it up that way: "Democrats are quick to point out that the $1.9 trillion package passed along strict partisan lines, with every Republican opposed." They should be quick to point this out! Shame might still work in politics (even in the post-Trump era), but it will never work unless that message gets out to ordinary people. Ramping up the effort now rather than right when the first checks arrive means the media will already be primed to talk about it, and they'll use the Democrats' framing when they do. Again, Politics 101 stuff, really.

As one Democratic spin doctor put it: "This is as historic as the ACA and we need to be home in the districts talking to Americans about the impact of the child tax credit on the 15th of every month when these checks come in." In other words, inform and remind people: "We did this for you. Democrats. The Republicans all voted against it. Please remember that, come election time...."

If Democrats can't make it work on this particular issue, they should just give up on attempting to do politics at all. Because for once, a federal benefit isn't just near-universal, it is also automatic -- those checks will show up without anyone applying for them, without any forms or paperwork, just a check in the mail, each and every month. And while most people don't even know about it yet, it is going to be wildly popular. So to begin claiming all the credit now is exactly the right thing to be doing.

Of course, there will be a period of adjustment, if this benefit becomes even semi-permanent. Right now it is limited to just this calendar year. But tucked away in the rest of the Biden economic agenda is an extension of it for the next few years -- which should be enough to force Congress to eventually make it permanent.

The big adjustment is going to come next year, at tax time. Because this child tax credit will be mailed monthly, it will not be included in the year-end refunds. So families will be getting a smaller refund than they used to. And some people inevitably will get bitten by it and find out they have to pay some of it back (it will be income-tested, so once you make too much money you won't get the benefit anymore, meaning if you took a much better job this year, you might just wind up owing some or even all that money back). The media (and Republicans) will no doubt point all of this out. But this is really just a small subset -- most parents will likely be grateful for the monthly money.

The article ends with a great quote from Hakeem Jeffries: "More than 90 percent of the people in almost every single congressional district -- families with children -- will benefit. It's transformative, and not a single Republican -- not a single one -- voted for it." That's the Democratic case in a nutshell.

And if Democrats don't proactively make this case, you know what would happen? Republicans would actually have the chutzpah to claim all the credit for themselves. They have done so before, quite recently in fact. They have no shame about lying like this to the public. But they cannot succeed if the public is already aware that they all voted against it. And the only way that's going to happen is if Democrats have already made that case to them.

Which is why, for once, I am actually hopeful that they'll succeed. Democrats deserve all this credit, and they should not be shy about taking it.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


6 Comments on “Social Security For Kids”

  1. [1] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Yeah, no effing kidding that this outta be Politics 101.

    Going back to Reagan, I never understood why Democrats didn't state the obvious stuff like this. I cynically figured that it's because the Dems are secretly on the rich folks side. With what Biden is doing makes me wonder if my cynicism was misplaced.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It reminds me of a great little book I read quite a long while ago ... How Democrats Can Take Back Congress by "Tom Paine" ... ahem.

    This has been a long time coming! I'm not surprised - not in the least - that it is happening under a Biden administration.

    And, just think of it ... Biden hasn't been in control of things for even a year, yet!!!

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Some Dems probably are and, for them, your cynicism is well placed.

    But, Biden has never been one of them.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Biden is your ally. Working with him could go a long way toward getting big money out of politics.

  5. [5] 
    John M wrote:

    Nancy Pelosi just held a significant press conference:

    1) She announced there will be a select House committee to investigate the Capitol Insurrection

    2) There will be no infrastructure bill passed by the House unless there is also a companion reconciliation bill to go with it, and both must be passed by the Senate first before the House will consider taking them up.

  6. [6] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:


    Biden doing anything to get the big money out of politics is a delusion worthy of a Trump supporter.

    Got any proof or just making delusional accusations as usual?

    If they do not they are the enemy and do not deserve our votes or support of any kind.

    Feeling a bit lonely as a party of one? As long as you consider pretty much everyone as your enemy, there is zero chance you will succeed, but that is your par for the course as these things go...

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