Romney, the Child-Tax Credit, and Social Conservatives

In his column this week, E.J. Dionne said conservatives prioritize market imperatives over family imperatives, suggesting that they have contributed to the major decrease in the share of children who have a stay-at-home parent. Many social conservatives would hear this and tend to think, Dionne has it all wrong: Does he not know that the movement’s policy wonks (here and here and here) want to triple or quintuple the child-tax credit?

While I wish Dionne had discussed the merits of expanding the child-tax credit, he is not the only member of our journalist-politician class who holds the credit in minimum high regards. Consider Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee. Romney’s recent comments suggest that he not only opposes expanding the child-tax credit, as socially conservative policy wonks support, he wants to eliminate the credit altogether. (Romney’s tax plan does not mention the child-tax credit specifically). According to the Associated Press, Romney told a voter at a rally in Pennsylvania this week that ending the child-tax credit might be a good idea:

When another person at the table, Kelly Wassel, expressed concern that the $500 per-child tax credit might expire at the end of the year, his response sounded like he might allow that to happen. “I would actually like to reshape the entire tax system, all right, that is what I’d like to do, and to simplify the system as opposed to all these little … baby steps,” as she nodded without protest.

The odds of eliminating the child-tax credit strike me as slim, as the credit is a huge subsidy to the middle class. But Romney’s exchange this week should be a sober reminder to social conservatives: While the other wings of the Republican Party generally support the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade and banning gay marriage, they do not support at this time other key planks of the socially conservative agenda.



  • me2

    The Child Tax Credit is being used today by illegals who FILE TAXES TO THE IRS and receive $1,000.00 per child, even if the child does not live in the U.S.! Did you get that? The Internal Revenue Service allowed undocumented workers to collect $4.2 billion in refundable tax credits last year, using the Child Tax Credit.

  • Momof11

    No need for child tax credits if the amount for personal exemptions were raised….perhaps that is under consideration in the reworking of the system?

  • Mari

    Joe M and Charles Williams above make good points. I also read Romney’s response to Kelly Wassel a little differently that I think you did. I think he’s saying instead of applying a little fix here and a little fix there, he’d like to reform the whole system. That’s not necessarily bad for families. It all depends on how it’s done — if taxes are cut across the board, that could be better than the child credit for many, and fixing AMT could especially benefit large families.

  • Charles R. Williams

    Replacing geographic school districts with vouchers would do more for middle class and working class families than any child tax credit. It would also reduce the burden on taxpayers of supporting a bloated and ineffective public school system.

  • Joe M

    Both parents having to work is a product of increased government spending. Not conservative policies. Increasing the child tax credit wouldn’t be nearly as effective as would conservative policies to stimulate growth. Just bringing our GDP growth rate up 2% from the low Obama levels would introduce over 300 trillion US dollars into our economy, positively affecting wages, employment and prices.

    • Joe M

      Whoops. That should be 300 billion rather than 300 trillion. A slight difference. :)



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