Dems thought giving voters cash was the key to success. So what happened?

A POLITICO / Tomorrow consult poll Released last week, it showed that 61 percent of respondents said they received the credit – a payment of $ 300 per month for each child under the age of 7 and a payment of $ 250 per month for each child under the age of 17. But only 39 percent of respondents said paying made a big impact on their lives. And while 47 percent of those polled attributed the Democrats to passing the expanded child tax credit, only 38 percent attributed it to President Joe Biden.

Those numbers are causing a stir on Capitol Hill, where concerns are growing that the party has failed to take advantage of its first major bill, the US bailout.

“It’s great to deliver and do things, but you really have to go out there and tell the world about it,” admitted a top Democratic Senate advisor who worked on getting the child tax break passed. “This is not a two-month project. It has to go on.”

It also forces party officials to reconsider their January calculations. Giving people money may not be the dispositive political winner they envisioned.

“I believe we should do popular things and use our power while we have it,” said Adam Jentleson, a party activist who now counts himself as one of the most honest progressive activists in DC. “But you should do them because they are the right thing to do, but not with the expectation that there would be a big political payoff.”

As Jentleson and others noted, the moral rationale for getting rid of the child tax credit remains quite profound. Columbia University researchers found that 59.3 million children nationwide received payments as of July 2021. In this month alone, they wrote, the program “saved 3 million children from poverty”. Extended over the term, the program could “reduce monthly child poverty by up to 40 percent”. In combination with all Covid-related relief measures, it could “contribute to a 52 percent reduction in monthly child poverty”.

Democrats negotiating the Build Back Better legislative package have pushed for the program expansion to be extended to 2025. And Biden himself turned to that policy to sell the larger reconciliation package.

“The digit numbers also remind us that we have important work ahead of us and important investments must be made,” Biden said on Friday after the release of one overwhelming job report. “We will help build families and help them look after their new baby, child or older relative. [We’re] the tax reduction for families with children will be extended. “

The electoral apparatus within the party, however, are faced with the question of how they can actually turn such an expansion into positive election results. For some it is easy: you keep building up a protocol that you can present to the voters as an argument in favor of maintaining power.

“All of this is part of the stew you need to put together to create a post-pandemic economic boom in 2022,” said a senior party official on the Child Tax Credit, Infrastructure Bill and Build Back Better, “And if you succeed, there is a clear case for Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress to come in and get to work saved the economy and put money in your pocket. You can see the ads. But it’s an ugly way to go. ” to get there.”

But others say the Democrats’ ambitions need to be recalibrated a little; that there are no panaceas for electoral success and that the real benefits will not come to fruition in 2022 or maybe even 2024, but in the later reshaping of the electorate.

Ethan Winter, a senior analyst at Data for Progress, conducts surveys for Fighting Chance for Families, a group working to extend child tax credits. The data available to him shows widespread support for the expanded tax credit among Democrats and Independents. But the more interesting number, he argued, was found in the crosstabs.

Republican parents who received the perks are more supportive of Biden than their non-parent Republican counterparts. And that, Winter added, was decent optimism for the Democrats, who thought politics would do them both morally and politically good.

“I think there was a triumphalist narrative that if we offer this advantage, we will reshape American politics,” said Winter. “But I think the political feedback literature misinterprets this a little. The place where that works is on the edge. There is fighting there. ”

From then on he went on.

“It’s really hard to redefine the electorate, but if you can offer Republican parents clear advantages, you may not be able to choose the Republican Parents module, but the marginal one. And if you can keep the marginal notes, maybe you can win the next election and that solidifies it even more. “

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