The full impact of Congress’s hastily passed tax bills is still being debated, but one thing is very clear: they are putting our children’s future at stake. And the tax bill is just the latest salvo in a series of policy proposals that will have immediate, but also long-term negatives consequences on our children’s well-being.
This concern is particularly acute in the Latino community which is by far America’s youngest population on average. While 40 percent of Americans overall are millennials or younger, a strong majority of Hispanics—six in 10—are.
In short, these tax cuts strike at the very heart of our children’s daily lives, whether it’s their ability to get a decent education, have a roof over their heads, be safe in their neighborhoods, access medical care, and even whether they go hungry or not. Why? Because the cost of paying for these tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest of Americans will fall disproportionately on children. Consider what could happen if the new tax bill is implemented:
4 million U.S. citizen children will plunge back into poverty.
The Congressional Budget Office analysis showed that families earning less than $30,000 will be worse off under both versions of the tax bill. And the Senate tax bill will compound that problem by stripping working immigrant parents’ ability to claim the Child Tax Credit for their U.S. citizen children.
600,000 children will lose their health care.
The elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) individual mandate will increase premiums for all ACA participants by at least 10 percent and could cost 13 million Americans, including 1 million Hispanics, most of whom are children, their long-overdue health insurance.
Seven out of 10 Latino working families will pay more in taxes.
And all this is just what will happen in 2018. In just 10 years, though, any family making $75,000 or less—which includes seven of every 10 Latino families—will be paying more in taxes. And the tax cuts will add at least $1 trillion to the deficit, which will have to be dealt with and paid for by tomorrow’s workers—our kids.
The tax bills are not an anomaly. An attack on children, especially the most vulnerable among them, has been a consistent theme of both the Trump administration and the House and Senate Republican leadership’s agenda throughout 2017.
Undermining Children’s Health Care
There has been a substantial decline in the number of uninsured children, due to Medicaid expansion and the highly popular Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). More than half of Latino children get health care—nearly 10 million children—under either CHIP or Medicaid. Yet Congress has let the reauthorization of CHIP languish to the point where states are already running out of funds to sustain the program and many more will by the end of the year. And there is no question that major cuts to Medicaid are in the offing next year due to the tax cuts.
Neglect of Puerto Rico in the Wake of Hurricane Maria
Much has been said about the unconscionable treatment of our fellow 3.5 million Americans on the island of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the most powerful storm ever in the Atlantic Ocean. Half of the island is still without power, and safe drinking water is still an issue.
Less well known is that three-quarters of a million U.S. citizens there are under the age of 18, and six out of 10 of them already live in poverty. And if that inattention continues, that number will likely to skyrocket, as will physical and mental health issues for these children, according to a recent study by the University of Puerto Rico.
Ending the DACA Program
And children and young people are also suffering from Congress’ failure to act on relief for DREAMers. Each and every week 800 more DACA recipients lose their temporary legal permission to work and go to school. There are also 200,000 children are at risk of losing a DREAMer parent. All this, even though support for helping DREAMers is far more bipartisan and popular than any legislation the Congress has contemplated or acted on this year.
Hurting children to help millionaires and billionaires is shameful and morally wrong. But it is also short-sighted and foolish policymaking. Short-sighted because what our country fails to do for our children today compromises their ability to thrive and to contribute in the future when we need them to. And foolish because the children Congress and the administration are willfully short-changing today are tomorrow’s workers and taxpayers.
This is especially the case for the millions of Latino children in this country, who will be one of every three new workers by 2030. Congress and the administration are undermining their health care, keeping them and their families mired in poverty, and punishing their parents for working for wages, rather than investing in hedge funds, for a living. This is not only cruel, it is a slap in the face to the values of families and hard work that our country holds dear. And for those who wonder why they should care about Latino kids—remember that if these children’s future is at stake, so is our country’s future well-being.