One idea that has been proposed as part of the latest Covid economic relief package is issuing payments of $3,000 and up to people who have children. Specifically, a bill proposed by Rep. Richard Neal would pay families $3,600 for each child under age 6 and $3,000 for each child between 6 and 17. Sen. Mitt Romney introduced a similar proposal that would give even more money to people with children. Even worse, some Democrats in Congress and White House officials want to make the policy permanent, meaning that people will continue to get free money from the government every year for no other reason than the fact that they have children.
This is a terrible idea, which anyone who believes in equality and justice should oppose. Giving a benefit to people with children, but not to people without children, is discriminatory. Any Covid relief or stimulus package should give the same amount of money to everyone, regardless of family status. Unfortunately, discrimination against people without children is pervasive in our society and is rarely even recognized as discrimination. This unjust state of affairs is demonstrated by the fact that political leaders from both parties have introduced these discriminatory economic plans and that no one in the media (as far as I have seen or heard) has raised the idea that these policies might be discriminatory.
“Biden’s proposed child benefit has quickly emerged as a potentially defining feature of his administration’s economic agenda – one that could make a lasting imprint on American welfare policy,” gushes the Washington Post. The Post’s article details the various options with regards to how the payments would be administered, whether they would be sent every month or every year, what the income limits would be, and whether they would be based on the current or previous year’s tax returns, but does not even mention the possibility that the entire idea of giving money only to people with children might be unjust. The article also mentions the fact that some conservatives oppose these benefits because they provide money to both working and non-working people, but ignores the most significant reason for objecting to the benefits: the fact that they exclude people who do not have children.
“This pandemic is driving families deeper and deeper into poverty, and it’s devastating,” said Rep. Neal. “This money is going to be the difference in a roof over someone’s head or food on their table. This is how the tax code is supposed to work for those who need it most.”
Sen. Cory Booker called the policy “the biggest impact we can make for economic justice in our country.”
These comments completely miss the point. People without children need a roof over their head and food on their table as well, and it’s just as devastating for someone without children to be driven into poverty (if not more so, because the stress of living in poverty is compounded by the stress of living in a society that systematically discriminates against you). Discriminating against people based on their family status is exactly how the tax code is not supposed to work. And contrary to Booker’s claim, discriminatory policies like these constitute economic injustice.
From taking away everyone’s Second Amendment rights, to essentially sentencing the entire population to house arrest because of the existence of a novel virus, to obliterating the works of art that give cities and states their identities, this is just another example of how those in power are attempting to make the United States as bad a place as possible. To use a Covid relief bill to further entrench discrimination into our society is exactly what our country does not need.