What Is Mitt Romney’s New Plan?

Bodie Morein, Contributing Writer

You’ve probably heard of Senator Mitt Romney’s new child allowance plan, but what does it entail?

Romney’s plan is meant to help lift children out of povertyaccording to PBS, 11.9 million children are in poverty as of 2018. That number is far higher now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when millions have lost their jobs and at least 8 million additional people in the US have fallen into poverty. Romney’s plan is to provide at least $3,000 a year for every child aged 6-17 and $4,200 for every child aged 0-5. This would be done through deposits of either $250 or $350 per month directly into taxpayer bank accounts. Any child with a Social Security Number would be eligiblethis means children who aren’t citizens would not be able to receive these benefits. His proposal would replace the current child welfare program, the Child Tax Credit (CTC) which offers $2000 annually at most for each child by reducing the amount the family pays in taxes. 

Romney’s plan is to provide at least $3,000 a year for every child aged 6-17 and $4,200 for every child aged 0-5.

Romney has criticized President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus proposal as being too expensive, even though the package includes a child benefit program very similar to his own plan. An article by the Washington Post states, “[Romney] may vote against the broader plan even if it includes much of his new child benefits proposal.” 

Romney’s child benefits proposal is more generous than what is included in Biden’s packageBiden’s would similarly provide $3000 to children 0-5, but only provide $3,600, at most, to children 6-17, which is $600 less annually than Romney’s plan. In addition, Biden’s plan would only last about a year (although some Democrats hope to extend that) whereas Romney’s proposal is permanent.

But how likely is the plan to pass? Some think that Democrats may object to how it would be paid for, which in part would involve abolishing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a welfare program currently used in the US to “provide families with financial assistance and related support efforts,” according to Benefits.gov. However, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “TANF is a greatly weakened safety net,” and, “in 2018, only 22 families received TANF for every 100 families in poverty.” This system is flawed, but Romney and senior Democrats are taking different approaches to fixing it: while Romney hopes to replace TANF and other welfare programs with his new plan, Democrats seek to add on to the programs that currently exist. 

Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Mike Lee have already scorned Romney’s plan, releasing a joint statement calling it “welfare assistance” and saying that “an essential part of being pro-family is being pro-work.” An MSNBC article predicted that if “Rubio and Lee hate the plan … other GOP senators are likely to balk, too.” In order for Romney’s plan to pass, it would need support from 60 senators. Biden and other Democrats have unveiled a plan very similar to Romney’s, so it seems unlikely that many Democrats will side with Romney as opposed to Biden. Biden’s plan also theoretically needs 60 votes to pass, but through a process called reconciliation, it could pass with a simple majority.

According to an analysis by the Niskanen Center, Romney’s plan would lift almost 3 million children out of poverty, and about 1.2 million children out of deep poverty. The analysis said that, “the Romney child allowance would reduce US child poverty by roughly one third, and deep child poverty by half.”

Although it doesn’t seem particularly likely that Romney’s proposal will pass, it’s possible that his plan could be adopted into Biden’s stimulus package, or at the very least, certain elements of it. It’s possible that Romney’s position on Biden’s plan may change, or that some Democrats and Republicans may join Romney in trying to get his bill passed. Look out for where senators stand on the issue, and who is likely to vote for or against Romney’s bill.