The test of our progress

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN | 9/25/2018, 8:57 p.m.
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it ...

This very week, House Republicans introduced their Tax Plan 2.0 that would again reward the wealthy and continue to increase already indefensible inequality. If enacted, it would permanently extend the 2017 tax law’s individual provisions – slated to expire after 2025 – that benefit the top 1 percent of households twice as much as those in the bottom 60 percent.

Initial estimates indicate Tax Plan 2.0 would add around $3 trillion more to the originally projected $1.9 trillion deficit in the first 10 years after the individual provisions become permanent. And with significantly higher projected deficits, the threat remains that the Trump White House will continue to propose debilitating cuts in order to pay for huge tax breaks for wealthy corporations and individuals. Has our nation completely lost all sense of decency and justice?

Babies’ survival needs should trump billionaires’ and millionaires’ greed. Our children’s present and future lives are too valuable to let these profoundly unjust practices continue. This new Tax Plan 2.0 and any additional cuts to key survival programs must be rejected. Every single person in America needs to speak out and mount a campaign to end child poverty now.

How will we test our progress today? Will our president continue to ignore the 12.8 million poor children and their families? Will congressional leaders stand up for those who have too little, or will they join the frenzied Republican leadership’s attempts to give more permanent tax breaks to those who have too much?

The recent Census Bureau report shows how key investments can help end child and family poverty. We must provide jobs and decent wages and support investments in the basic needs of children and families. Supplemental Poverty Measure data expands on the Official Poverty Measure by including the impact of some government and other programs on family resources. It shows that in 2017, millions of children were lifted above the poverty line by the Earned Income Tax Credit (4.5 million) and other refundable credits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (1.5 million), the National School Lunch Program (722,000), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (156,000), housing subsidies (897,000), the Supplemental Security Income Program (472,000), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and general assistance (296,000).

No child in our nation should live in poverty. Shielding children from the lifelong consequences of poverty will improve their lives now and reduce future child poverty. We have all the resources and know how to end child poverty and cannot wait. The future of our children and our nation depends on acting right now.

Marian Wright Edelman is the president of the Children’s Defense Fund.