The child tax credit, received by more than thirty-five million families, isn’t entirely new. But the way it’s distributed is almost a revolution in American politics: instead of having it show up once a year, at tax time, the government also provides money ahead of time, in predictable monthly payments. Wide-scale, direct cash payments are anathema to Reagan-era austerity economics. Is this policy the first sign that that consensus may be coming to an end? David Remnick talks with Senator Michael Bennet, of Colorado, who campaigned for the Presidency on this issue in 2020, and is now fighting to extend the tax credits indefinitely.
For Sheelah Kolhatkar, who covers economics and business, the child tax credit can be seen as a kind of scale model of universal basic income. She moderates a conversation between two academics on different sides of the issue: Michael Strain, a senior fellow and the director of economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and Amy Castro, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Castro leads the Stockton Experiment, a small-scale U.B.I. project in the California city of that name, which, she says, has had surprisingly robust results.
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