Aid Cessation and Price Increases Resulted in a Significant Increase in Poverty in 2022

When a high-risk pregnancy forced Amber Summers to leave her job in rural Southern Illinois in 2021, the expanded child tax credit provided a lifeline. The $250 monthly payments helped cover her mortgage and allowed her son, now 9, to play Little League Baseball for the first time.

“It was financial stability and stress relief for our family,” she said.

But when the payments lapsed at the end of 2021, the family’s finances quickly unraveled — especially after Ms. Summers’s husband, Tim, contracted Covid and lost his job as a cook. And while both of them have since returned to work, neither is receiving full-time hours, and they are falling further behind on their bills. Opportunities for better-paying jobs are limited in their area.

“The child tax credit helped pull our family out of poverty for such a short period of time,” Ms. Summers, 32, said.

Congress passed the expanded child tax credit as part of the American Rescue Plan, President Biden’s pandemic-relief package, in early 2021. But unlike with other Covid-era relief programs, which were always intended to expire once the emergency passed, supporters hoped to make the expanded child credit permanent.

That didn’t happen. Faced with united opposition from congressional Republicans as well as some conservative Democrats, Mr. Biden dropped his effort to extend the program at the end of 2021; a renewed push failed again last year. The rise in poverty in 2022, social policy experts said and the White House agreed, was the inevitable result of that decision.

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