Voters Credit Biden For Boost In Child Tax Payments, Unemployment Benefits

When voters head to the polls next fall, Democrats hope they remember which party supported the benefits.

The Joe Biden administration gets the most credit from voters for the monthly child benefit payments that have been going out since July, according to a new survey from HuffPost and Fighting Chance for Families, a project from Data for Progress and Groundwork Collaborative.

Some 42% of likely voters said the Biden administration is responsible for the payments, while 27% credited Democrats in Congress; 12% said they didn’t know. The rest credited the Donald Trump administration (9%), their state government (6%) or Republicans in Congress (5%).

Whom Americans credit for the money is important to Democrats because they’re hoping voters remember the payments when they head to the polls in the 2022 midterm elections. Historically, the opposing party does well in the midterms, and because Democrats have small majorities, Republicans are in a strong position to retake control of Congress.

Continuing the payments past their current expiration date in December is a core part of Democrats’ agenda, and a major feature of the budget legislation they’re hoping to push through Congress in the coming weeks.

When moderate Democrats threatened to withhold support from an initial budget vote last month, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ campaign arm, helped get them on board by pointing to the election.

“The argument was that if we don’t get these things done, it puts our control of the House at risk,” an aide recalled.

In a concerning sign for Democrats, only 37% of Americans said in an August survey that the Biden administration had done anything to benefit them personally, while 57% said it had not ― even though Democrats and the Biden administration sent $1,400 relief checks to the vast majority of households earlier this year without a single Republican vote.

Democrats and the Biden administration have held several news conferences and other events to publicize the monthly child payments, which amount to $300 per child under 6 and $250 for kids 6-17 for all households earning less than $150,000 annually. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has taken to calling it the “Biden Child Tax Credit.”

“We don’t plan on losing the House,” Pelosi said earlier this month at an event in Worcester, Massachusetts. “I’ve been to five states in the last few days talking about the child tax credit.”

Tax credits and refunds can be obscure, since they typically come from the IRS and are calculated using complex formulas that pay different amounts according to household incomes. Surveys over the years have shown people generally don’t understand the rules of the earned income tax credit, for instance.

But by making this child tax credit fully refundable and advancing the payments to recipients, Democrats essentially created a monthly cash allowance for parents, along the lines of what other rich countries have provided for years. Experts say the payments will likely slash child poverty, and Democrats have said the policy will someday be regarded as highly as Social Security retirement insurance.

A plurality of likely voters also credited the Biden administration for enhanced unemployment benefits that were in place this year, according to the Data for Progress survey, with 34% of respondents saying the administration was responsible and 28% crediting Democrats. The extra benefits initially amounted to $600 per week last year, and then $300 per week this year.

Sixteen percent of voters said the Trump administration deserved credit for the extra benefits. The Trump administration did support the benefits last year, but Republican leaders switched to opposing the supplemental compensation this year.

Data for Progress, a progressive polling and strategy organization, conducted the survey of 1,346 likely voters Sept. 15-17.

Daniel Marans contributed reporting.

This story has been updated to reflect that the poll was done by Fighting Chance for Families, a project from Data for Progress and Groundwork Collaborative, rather than by Data for Progress by itself.