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Congress Should Give Families More Credit

September 6, 2017
Bloomberg News

Congress returns to Washington this week to a meat grinder: In short order, members must raise the debt ceiling, pass a budget (to avoid a government shutdown) and deliver emergency relief to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. So it might seem unrealistic to suggest that they strike a bipartisan deal on child-care tax credits.

Yet this is precisely the kind of small but meaningful legislation that would show the American public that Congress is, in fact, capable of doing something — and, not incidentally, it would measurably improve the lives of millions of American families.

A House bill introduced by Republican Kevin Yoder and Democrat Stephanie Murphy would expand and update the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which was created in 1976 and allows parents to offset child-care expenses incurred while they work or go to school. Though well-intended, the policy has outlived its effectiveness: The maximum benefit of $2,100 for a family with two or more children has remained constant since 2001, during which time child-care costs have increased by more than 20 percent, and the tax credit is not refundable.