Discover more from Supercreator
The Child Tax Credit did the opposite of what its critics said it would
New research shows that the child-poverty-slashing benefit did not disincentivize employment. Plus: The House passed a significant bill in a rare demonstration of bipartisanship.
BREAKING — Dr. Eric Lander, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, resigned late last night after Alex Thompson at Politico revealed an investigation that found Lander fostered a toxic work environment for his workers.
“The president accepted Dr. Eric Lander’s resignation letter this evening with gratitude for his work at OSTP on the pandemic, the Cancer Moonshot, climate change and other key priorities,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “He knows that Dr. Lander will continue to make important contributions to the scientific community in the years ahead.”
Lander was scheduled to testify today on the next frontier of biomedical research before the House Health subcommittee. But prior to his resignation, subcommittee Chairwoman Anna Eshoo announced the White House notified her that Lander would not appear.
President Biden issued this zero-tolerance policy to his staff on the first day of his administration:
If you’re working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you — I will fire you on the spot. On the spot. No if, ands or buts.
But the administration stood by the president’s top science adviser throughout most of Monday as Psaki attempted to explain to a bewildered press corps why Lander was an exception to Biden’s crystal-clear rule.
The decision to keep Lander on staff was an unforced error. It has cast a cloud over what appeared to be a turning tide in Biden’s favor after an extraordinary jobs report, declining COVID numbers and Republican Party infighting. Biden could have let Lander go and suffered a tough news cycle or two. Now Psaki will have to answer what changed between her briefing and when Lander submitted his resignation. And Biden will be questioned about if he really means what he says.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…
○ ● ●
A week from today, millions of working families will miss their monthly Child Tax Credit payment for the second month in a row — after six straight months of receiving the benefit.
Critics of the expanded CTC, including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and several Republican politicians, argue that sending cash with little to no strings attached like stimulus checks or CTC payments discourage people from working.
But new research indicates that reasoning may be without merit.
An analysis published last week from Washington University in St. Louis found that the expanded CTC did not reduce employment. And although the researchers only analyzed three months of data, their findings are consistent with the bulk of evidence concerning the CTC and employment that demonstrates the monthly payments have not led to employment declines.
“Interestingly, the rates of parents reporting they were unemployed because they had to care for children substantially decreased after the CTC began,” Stephen Roll, research assistant professor at Washington University’s Brown School and Social Policy Institute and one of the study’s authors, said in a post published the university’s blog. “This shift was more pronounced in low- and middle-income groups than in the highest income group.”
As I’ve previously reported, the expanded Child Tax Credit is the crown jewel of President Biden’s economic agenda.
The American Rescue Plan increased it from $2,000 to $3,000 per child for children over age six and from 2,000 to $3,600 for children over age six while raising the age limit from 16 to 17. Prior to the ARP expansion, people would receive the benefit when they filed their taxes. But when Biden took office, half became monthly automatic direct deposits of $250 or $300 per child.
In what seems like an eternity ago although it was just last year, the president proposed funding the credit through 2025 with the ultimate goal of making it permanent. Congressional Democrats compromised on a one-year extension in the Build Back Better act to keep the final price tag under $1.75 trillion. This concession ultimately wasn’t enough to keep Sen. Manchin from killing the bill as we knew a few weeks before the new year.
Lawmakers have thrown around the possibility of extending the CTC with a standalone piece of legislation. But the Republican votes aren’t there.
And Manchin said on Sunday during an interview on CNN that any Build Back Better provisions would require “regular order,” which is Senate talk for the lengthy process of referring a legislative proposal to the appropriate committee where it receives a public hearing before committee members from both parties discuss, debate and amend it. Not until a bill makes it out of committee under regular order is it sent to the full Senate for more debate and amendments and a final vote.
Even if this weren’t the case, Manchin is preoccupied with other negotiations at the moment anyway. (A spokesperson for Manchin did not respond to a request for comment when asked if his position on the expanded Child Tax Credit remains that it should have a work requirement.)
A spokesperson for the White House told me that the administration won’t negotiate in public.
“But we can all agree that this is a historic tax cut for middle-class families and the key driver behind the American Rescue Plan putting us on the path to cut childhood poverty in half,” the spokesperson said. “This study adds to the evidence that the [CTC] helps working families and the developments and opportunities of all our children.”
The White House also noted that families who have received monthly payments will get up to $1,800 for each child under six and up to $1,500 for each child ages six to 17. And the administration launched a new version of childtaxcredit.gov to help Americans get the full CTC as tax season begins.
On the Hill later this morning, Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Democratic Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Suzan DelBene of Washington will hold a press event urging people to file their taxes so they can get the remaining benefit. They’ll also call for an extension of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit as the centerpiece of any future budget reconciliation bill.
● ○ ●
Another linchpin of the president’s economic agenda — tuition-free community college — was dropped out of Build Back Better too.
The setback wasn’t just political for Biden, it was personal too: His wife, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, is a community college English teacher and advocate for the institution. And Dr. Biden spoke of her disappointment on Monday at the 2022 Community College National Legislative Summit.
“Congress hasn’t passed the Build Back Better agenda — yet. And free community college is no longer a part of that package,” she said during her remarks. “We know this wouldn’t be easy — Joe has always said that. Still like you, I was disappointed. Because like you — these aren’t just bills or budgets to me. We know what they mean for real people. For our students.”
Jen Psaki was asked on Monday if there was an underlying intent behind Dr. Biden’s words.
“I think it was speaking from her heart about her view that free community college would benefit kids, young people, level the playing field across the country. It’s something that the president agrees with,” Psaki said. “I think you all have seen many, many iterations of the Build Back Better legislations in recent months. [Free community college] hasn’t been in there in a while so I think she was speaking from her heart about how beneficial she thinks that funding and that support would be.
A spokesperson for Dr. Biden did not respond to a request for comment.
There are 942 community colleges in the United States, and about 12.4 million students are enrolled in them, according to data compiled by education research site ThinkImpact. And one of the upsides to community colleges is their much smaller class sizes, which range from about 25 to 35 students per class. In comparison, four-year institutions have many introductory classes that seat over 300 or more students. And community college students who decide to attend a two-year college instead of a four-year institution can save upwards of about $30,000 in potential student debt.
“When you get knocked down, you have to get back up. When you lose, you work harder and you come back for more. There are a lot of reasons that I wanted Joe to run for president — but one of the biggest was because I knew that no one would work harder for my students and yours,” Dr. Biden said on Monday. “This is how we move forward, step by step. We take the hard-won victories and we keep pushing for the change we need. With work and persistence, we will win the progress our students deserve.”
● ● ○
The House passed legislation to end forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault survivors by a vote of 335-97 in a rare demonstration of bipartisanship.
“We’ve heard a flood of stories of sexual assault and harassment that has gone unchecked for far too long,” Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement. “But little known legal agreements hidden in all sorts of places have continued to bar millions of Americans from speaking out or seeking justice.”
The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act will void forced arbitration agreements in any contract if a sexual assault or harassment claim is brought.
More than 60 million Americans in employment contracts would be impacted by the legislation. That estimate grows exponentially when you consider other contracts and terms and conditions where forced arbitration clauses are typically found: Nursing homes, property leases, ride-share apps, movers, handyman services and more.
Survivors will now be provided the freedom to decide what legal path works for them — from bringing a claim in court to discussing their case publicly to seeking another kind of legal remedy — while harassers and abusers will no longer enjoy the institutional protection from facing justice.
Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson is one of the recent victims of forced arbitration.
Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, the late former Fox News chairman, and alleged that she was fired from her program for refusing Ailes’s sexual advances. She was publicly critical of Fox’s attempt to resolve her claims through mandatory arbitration instead of in court. “Forcing victims of sexual harassment into secret arbitration proceedings is wrong because it means nobody finds out what really happened,” Carlson said at the time.
She said that after Monday’s vote, the country is one step closer to creating safer work environments.
“Everyone deserves the right to be heard, to have choices, and to be free from mechanisms that silence their voices,” Carlson added.
”With today’s strong, bipartisan vote, the House sent a clear signal to survivors across our nation that they deserve the freedom to seek justice and to make their voices heard,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. Now, we call on the Senate to take swift action and send this deeply needed legislation to the President’s desk.”
The Senate could vote on the bill as early as this week.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Good Tuesday morning. Welcome to Supercreator, your daily guide to the politicians and power brokers shaping how you work and live in the new economy. Send me tips, comments, questions — or just say hi: email@example.com.
TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing with Vice President Harris this morning before the two will have lunch together. Then the president will speak about how his agenda will rebuild the American manufacturing industry and lower energy costs for Americans. Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg and Energy Sec. Jennifer Granholm will attend. Biden and Harris will receive their weekly economic briefing this afternoon.
The House is in and will consider legislation on postal service reform, LGBTQ rights and government funding.
The Senate is in and will continue debate on the president’s executive and judicial nominations.
IN THE KNOW
→ Vice President Harris will reportedly attend later this month the Munich Security Conference, an event that is expected to focus on challenges facing the globe amid concerns among the US and its European allies about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. A spokesperson for Vice President Harris did not respond to a request for comment. [Amie Parnes and Brett Samuels / The Hill]
→ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will be in Los Angeles today to meet with local law enforcement officials and the NFL security team to prep for this Sunday’s Super Bowl. The Department of Homeland Security is leading security efforts due to the event’s Level 1 Special Event Assessment Rating.
→ The Education Department updated its College Scorecard to make it more useful for students and families weighing college options. The improved interactive tool also restores several metrics that help students gauge how their prospective institution compares to other colleges across costs, graduation rates, post-college earnings and more.
→ The IRS announced it will abandon plans to use a third-party service for facial recognition to help authenticate people creating new online accounts. “The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition.”
→ Seven Democratic senators have signed on to Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Mark Kelly of Arizona’s legislation to ban congressional stock trading. The new co-sponsors include Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Patty Murray of Washington, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. [@SenOssoff / Twitter]
→ Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida indicated his support of a controversial “Don’t Say Gay” state bill that would ban certain discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. “Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write,” DeSantis said at a press event Monday. “They need to teach them science, history. We need more civics and understanding of the US Constitution, what makes our country unique, all those basic things.” That sure was a whole lot of words to say nothing. [Steve Contorno / CNN]
→ In addition to your breath, your sweat and the temperature of your skin, researchers have discovered a common mosquito species also cue on the color red. “The shade of your skin doesn’t matter, we are all giving off a strong red signature,” Jeffrey Riffell, a professor of biology at the University of Washington and senior author of the study, said. “Filtering out those attractive colors in our skin or wearing clothes that avoid those colors, could be another way to prevent a mosquito biting.” [James Urton / University of Washington]
→ Amazon will increase its maximum base pay from $160,000 to $350,000 for corporate and tech employees. The move, which brings the company’s base pay in line with other big tech companies, is part of an overall increase in total compensation intended to help recruit and retain top talent. [Todd Bishop / GeekWire]
READ ALL ABOUT IT
The entire 54-minute episode was a reminder of what first drew us into the series: Zendaya’s shatteringly good portrayal of addiction. Brutally honest, and very up close, this episode felt like rock bottom for Rue, and Zendaya executed it so damn well. As an actress, she cares about Rue so much I can’t help but feel the same.
Although season two has garnered quite a bit of online debate and discourse, primarily around the dislike of creator Sam Levinson, there is zero debate as to how well Zendaya both continues to play a complicated character I do care about, even though I probably shouldn’t, and portrays the complicated truth of addiction and young adulthood. When are the Emmys, again?
David A. Graham on the end of the Republican Party’s big tent:
Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Republican Party prided itself on being a big-tent party. This didn’t mean that anything went—generally, members were expected to adhere to a philosophy of free markets and small government—but the party tolerated the left-leaning Nelson Rockefeller as well as the rock-ribbed Barry Goldwater, the conservative Ronald Reagan and the moderate Arlen Specter. The GOP no longer has many coherent policy goals, mixing free traders and tariff fanatics, entitlement-cutters with populists. The single unifying requirement is paying fealty to Donald Trump. Pretty much anyone willing to do that is welcome.
Amy B. Zegart on how American spy agencies are struggling in the age of data:
In short, data volume and accessibility are revolutionizing sensemaking. The intelligence playing field is leveling—and not in a good way. Intelligence collectors are everywhere, and government spy agencies are drowning in data. This is a radical new world and intelligence agencies are struggling to adapt to it. While secrets once conferred a huge advantage, today open source information increasingly does. Intelligence used to be a race for insight where great powers were the only ones with the capabilities to access secrets. Now everyone is racing for insight and the internet gives them tools to do it. Secrets still matter, but whoever can harness all this data better and faster will win.
Helen Lewis on Hollywood’s discovery of the middle-aged woman:
Compared with the dead ends that [Meg] Ryan, [Elizabeth] Perkins, and [Robin] Wright encountered in traditional Hollywood, the trajectory for female stars is thriving on the competition among HBO, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and others. A glut of roles now combine the personal and the professional, offering a chance not to be pigeonholed as “the wife” or “the mom”—or, conversely, the career woman free of domestic responsibilities. Think about the dry decade: It has amounted to a desert of roles between love interest and empty nester, as Hollywood has struggled to incorporate the challenges of motherhood into narratives about women engaged elsewhere too.
Timothy Noah on how the economy got restructured to screw workers:
We have laws in this country about how much you have to pay people, and how many hours you can work them before you have to pay time and a half, and whether they can join a union or engage in less formal “concerted activity” concerning working conditions, and a variety of other matters, too. Enforcement of these laws has for many years been a joke. Replacing them with more up-do-date laws would be the best path, but that isn’t going to happen until the Democrats secure a bigger majority in Congress and rekindle their New Deal–era commitment to solving the problems of working people. Meanwhile, the Labor Department is hiring 100 new investigators to police wage and hour violations. That’s a good step. Getting [David] Weil confirmed [as administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division] would be another one.
Adam Harris on HBCUs:
Violence is not the only threat to these institutions’ survival. Lack of funding has made many HBCUs’ future uncertain. A recent analysis by Forbes found that states have underfunded their public land-grant HBCUs—18 of them, in total—by at least $12.8 billion since 1987. But states were depriving HBCUs of money long before that. In 1871, for example, Mississippi promised Alcorn State University an appropriation of $50,000 a year for at least a decade. By 1875, as Reconstruction lawmakers were forced out of the state legislature, that appropriation had been reduced to $15,000 a year. A year later, it was reduced again, to $5,500. These indignities were not anomalous; they were standard. And yet, the institutions have persevered.
Thanks for reading! You can support this work by becoming a premium subscriber for $5/month or $50/year. (Already a subscriber? Purchase a gift subscription for a friend or loved one or buy me a tea.) If you know someone who would enjoy Supercreator, forward today’s issue to them and invite them to sign up so they never miss an update.