Even as citizens struggled to keep up with expenses in the absence of any federal stimulus check, the House signed the Inflation Reduction Act, 2022 into law on the 12th of August. The extensive bill has targeted multiple issues including fighting climate change, slashing the national deficit, and bringing down the cost of prescription drugs.
the ambitious $430 billion package was a milestone for President Biden and the Democrats as it came after much fighting, a lot of it internally. Trying to convince Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema was a battle for the president and his team as both tried to protect their vested interests in the coal and energy lobby.
The bill has been passed at a crucial time just 3 months before the midterms. The Democrats could lose control of Congress by then.
The White House has revealed that the act will take on inflation and help reduce it by both reducing energy costs and the cost of healthcare by bringing down the deficit. The fight to bring down the deficit is a welcome sign that the federal administration has finally put its act together to rein in inflation. But the bill falls short for citizens in several areas.
The Discontinuance Of The Expanded Child Tax Credit Stimulus Check Hit Families Badly In The Face Of Rising Costs
The bill in particular falls short of the Build Back Better Bill, on which it has been majorly modeled, though it is a diluted version of the bill. Last year was a big boost from the Child Tax Credit. Its maximum value was increased from $2,000 to $3,000 for children between the ages of 6 and 17 and $to 3,600 for those under 6.
Also for the first time parents were allowed to receive half of the credit stimulus check via monthly installment payments.
And it is in extending the child tax credit stimulus check that the act falls short majorly. An attempt by President Joe Biden for a continuation of the $250 to $300 months expanded Child Tax Credit stimulus check fell through.
These direct payments were started in the last six months of 2021 and were instrumental in alleviating poverty, particularly among children. There is also no sign of the free preschool that was included in the agenda for the Build Back Better plan in the Inflation Reduction Act.
America has always lagged when it came to paid family leave. Other developed countries like Belgium and Finland have generous policies for every family. It has long been a demand, particularly the Democrats that America should also go for a similar offer. But it was not included as part of this act.
Another area where the nation hopelessly lags and needs to drastically improve is subsided care for children. At the very least the nation should try to close the gender gap. Joe Biden originally wanted to include a subsidy on child care in the original Build Back Better bill for families earning below $300,000. But it has not been included in the diluted version of the bill, the Inflation Reduction Act.
The relentless increase in the price of food is a grave problem that families with children are facing harshly. Man families find it brutal when kids have to go without even one proper meal a day.
With the original plan, the president wanted to provide free meals at schools to around 8.9 million students. There were plans to also give $65 per child every month to families during the summer months when schools are not in session. But even this proposal by Biden was turned down by the Republicans and some Senators within the party.
Paltry Benefits For Low-Income Households
While the bill could benefit citizens indirectly in some ways, unfortunately, many provisions for families, especially with children, failed to make the final cut. The diluted version of the Build Back Better bill was a big disappointment even as inflation continues to remain entrenched in its high perch.
It is unquestionably a harsh blow as some of the previously mentioned benefits of the Act may do very little for low and moderate-income households who are hit the hardest every time there is a downturn in the economy.
And inflation has come at a particularly harsh time for such families and individuals as most of them have exhausted their savings trying to fight their way through the long period of inflation.
Inflation began to creep upwards right after the third stimulus check was announced. It continued its relentless march even as the federal stimulus support dried out one after another. The last of the support, the CTC stimulus check was stopped after December 2021, with Biden’s efforts to continue with it stymied by the Republicans.
Several Benefits Linked To Inflation Reduction Act Not Much Help To Low-Income Families
Many of the benefits associated with the Inflation Reduction Act will not make much difference in the lives of families that were cash-strapped thanks to the rising prices. For instance, Tax credits given for electric cars are of not much use for lower-income families struggling to put food on the table.
They would at the most be struggling to avoid their present car being repossessed as they struggle to make their auto loan payments and avoid it getting repossessed. In the same vein, rebates given for energy-efficient upgrades at home might count for something when it comes to the environment. but it doesn’t count for much for families struggling to put in new appliances or install solar panels.
So it matters little to them when they are sold the argument that the bill will save Americans some money. Lower-income families will inevitably get left out in the cold.
In such stimulation, the state stimulus checks have come to acquire importance as they will save families from the immediate pressure of declining wages and unrelenting rise in prices. California is the latest to come up with inflation relief stimulus checks for residents with even middle-class families earning $500,000 jointly getting a stimulus check.
Florida was a surprise entry into the list as the Republican state government under Ron DeSantis has consistently opposed giving out stimulus checks from the start. The 2024 presidential hopeful has announced a $450 stimulus check for around 59,000 foster parents, related and unrelated caregivers, and those on welfare. The funds have come from the ARPA signed by President Biden in March 2021.