Making the Case: Low-Income Tax Credits (and Health Reform) Are Key to Economic Recovery

February 3, 2010
by Meredith Dodson, Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns

The Washington switch to the topic of jobs presents us with a great opportunity. RESULTS supports efforts at creating jobs, especially for low-income people in the U.S., and one effective way to create jobs is by investing in anti-poverty programs. Investing in programs that help people meet basic needs, including food, shelter and health care, causes positive changes in the local and national economy. Beginning this month, RESULTS groups are pushing for expansion of the the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which incentivizes work by providing substantial tax refunds for workers in low-income jobs. A Michigan study estimates that for every $1 of EITC money spent in the local economy, $1.67 in new earnings is generated.

On February 1, President Obama sent his FY 2011 budget request to Congress. This starts the annual budget process. Congress will review the president’s proposal and will hold hearings with Executive Branch personnel, and then begin to work on its own budget in the hopes of passing a budget resolution later this spring. Related to our Economic Opportunity campaign, some of the highlights in the president’s budget are that it:

  • Makes permanent the expansions of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) made in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). For the CTC, this means maintaining the income eligibility threshold at $3,000; for the EITC, this means maintaining higher credits for married couples and families with three or more children. Without action, these changes will expire in 2011.
  • Doubles the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which helps working parents afford the costs of child care.
  • Assumes $2.5 billion in new funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), with special incentives for states to use the funds to create subsidized jobs to help poor parents now unable to find work.

You can learn more and the White House’s FY 2011 Budget site. Because of RESULTS’ commitment to health reform, we will continue working on Health Care for All as a major campaign for 2010 alongside our Economic Opportunity campaign. This will allow us to stay focused on the important task of finishing health reform while simultaneously building support for our tax credit work this year. Our actions each month will focus on the most pertinent issue and most strategic action for that time, be it health reform, tax reform, or both. As we switch gears to begin working on low-income tax credits, be sure to read the materials on our Economic Opportunity pages, including a brief PowerPoint presentation on these issues. And, be sure to join the February National Conference Call — Saturday, February 13, at 12:30 pm with guest speaker Monica Mills from Bread for the World. To participate, call (888) 409-6709 with your group by 12:25 pm ET.

TAKE ACTION: Take the February Action. Write a letter to your representatives and senators urging them to pass health reform and expansions to low-income tax credits in 2010. Remind them that these investments will help millions of individuals and families struggling in poverty, create jobs, and revive our economy. To find contact information, including telephone numbers and addresses for congressional offices and the names of the health and tax staffer, visit the Take Action Now page of this RESULTS website. For directory assistance, you can contact the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

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