Citing the challenges of raising a family, particularly in the midst of a pandemic and record inflation, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has reintroduced a plan that would provide monthly payouts to working families with young children.
Under the newly proposed Family Security Act 2.0, financial aid would be directly tied to the number and ages of a family’s children, with $350 provided for each young child per month (ages 0-5) and $250 for each school-aged child (6-17), according to a news release. The number of children eligible for the program would be capped at six per family.
The revised plan would also provide a $700 monthly sum to expecting parents during the latter half of pregnancies. Families would be eligible to apply for assistance four months before a child’s due date.
Rather than perpetuate additional government spending, the initiative would be funded by “reforming and consolidating outmoded federal programs” into one “easy-to-navigate policy,” the news release says. This includes reforming the Earned Income Tax Credit and eliminating the State and Local Tax Deduction, Head of Household filing status and the child portion of the Child and Dependent Care Credit.
“We must do better to help families meet the challenges they face as they take on the most important work any of us will ever do — raising our society’s children,” Romney said in the release. “This proposal proves that we can accomplish this without adding to the deficit or creating another new federal program without any reforms.”
According to the release from the senator’s office, the proposal would provide families with increased transparency on how much money to expect from the federal government, allowing them to receive the funds more quickly, and promote societal values such as marriage and work.
Referencing the declining population, Romney said that one of the reasons people may be hesitant to get married and have children is because they don’t know if they can afford it. And many don’t know how to access the benefits currently offered to families. According to the senator, a quarter of people who are currently eligible for these types of benefits don’t apply.
“Right now, the programs we have, the Child Tax Credit and the family portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit are very confusing to people,” Romney told Utah reporters during a phone conference Wednesday. “They are not predictable to young people, so we don’t fully get the benefit of them.”
The Family Security Act 2.0 would also limit the amount of money given to families who did not meet a $10,000 earning threshold the year prior, reducing the financial aid proportionally to the amount earned, while curtailing the amount given to families that earn above the Child Tax Credit income phaseout thresholds, which currently sit at $200,000 for single-filers and $400,000 for joint-filers, the news release states.
The work requirement is one of the major additions to the revised proposal, Romney explained.
“In the prior legislation, families or individuals were able to qualify for a per-child benefit whether or not they were working,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune. “And we received a number of comments from people saying, ‘That’s just not going to fly. People need to have a commitment to the workplace to be able to receive benefits.’”
This iteration of the legislation would also spare the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, which was eliminated in the original proposal.
Republican Senators Richard Burr of Borth Carolina and Steve Daines of Montana partnered with Romney on drafting the legislation. The Utah senator said the plan is getting “good Republican support.”
Support from the other side of the aisle may be delayed, however, as Democrats are holding out until the Build Back Better bill is considered, Romney said. “We’ll continue to get Republicans to line up,” he said. “At some point, we’re going to start getting Democrats.”
“To get a final bill done, we’re gonna need to get Democrat support,” he added.