Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., likened the child tax credit included in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, to a form of universal basic income on Thursday as progressive lawmakers called for the passage of additional financial assistance programs.
Gomez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and several other progressive lawmakers have cosponsored the “Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act,” a bill that seeks to cancel rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the pandemic. The California representative argued the inclusion of the child tax credit in the final version of Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” was a sign of growing mainstream acceptance of progressive policy goals.
“Sometimes progressive ideas sound radical at first…and then they become mainstream,” Gomez said. “The child tax credit is basically a universal basic, guaranteed income for children that’s been advocated for years, but we were able to do it now with hardly ever a peep.”
The Biden-backed relief package, which passed Congress in party-line votes, allows qualifying taxpayers to claim a refundable credit of up to $3,000 per child aged 6 to 17 years old and $3,600 per child aged under 6. Families can opt to receive the credit in the form of monthly payments of up to $300.
Progressive lawmakers have called for the establishment of a guaranteed income to help Americans contend with the financial impact of the pandemic. Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang called for the creation of a universal basic income called the “Freedom Dividend,” which would disperse monthly payments to Americans.
“That is revolutionary. They just didn’t know it because it came up on them over the years,” Gomez added regarding the tax credit.
“These progressive ideas often become mainstream and they become, I would say, into the mainstream consciousness of the Democratic Party and the country," added Gomez, "We didn’t get the increase in the minimum wage, but we are going to keep fighting for it and I still do think we have a chance.”
The bill was signed into law after weeks of heated negotiations. Republican lawmakers preferred a targeted relief bill with limited direct payments and no federal aid to state and local governments.
GOP critics accused Democratic leadership of pursuing a “partisan wish-list” rather than necessary relief measures.
The American Rescue Plan included $25 billion in funding for rent relief. But Omar, Gomez and other progressive lawmakers argued the “American Rescue Plan” did not go far enough to address the country’s financial crisis.
The proposed Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act would forgive all payments during the pandemic, with no negative impact to credit rating or associated debt. The legislation would create a relief fund to support landlords and mortgage holders impacted by the cancellations.
“Right now, we are facing an unprecedented crisis that has put millions of Americans at risk of housing instability and homelessness,” Omar said in a statement. “While the American Rescue Plan extends the national rent moratorium—this is not a long-term solution."