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Goodbye ‘Godsend’: Expiration of Child Tax Credits Hits Home




For the first time in half a year, families on Friday are going without a monthly deposit from the child tax credit — a program that was intended to be part of President Joe Biden’s legacy but has emerged instead as a flash point over who is worthy of government support.

Retiree Andy Roberts, from St. Albans, West Virginia, relied on the checks to help raise his two young grandchildren, whom he and his wife adopted because the birth parents are recovering from drug addiction.

The Roberts are now out $550 a month. That money helped pay for Girl Scouts, ballet and acting lessons and kids’ shoes, which Roberts noted are more expensive than adult shoes. The tax credit, he said, was a “godsend.”

“It’ll make you tighten up your belt, if you’ve got anything to tighten,” Roberts said about losing the payments.

The monthly tax credits were part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package — and the president had proposed extending them for another full year as part of a separate measure focused on economic and social programs.

But Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, from Roberts’ home state of West Virginia, objected to extending the credit out of concern that the money would discourage people from working and that any additional federal spending would fuel inflation that has already climbed to a nearly 40-year high.

The U.S. is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, a worker shortage and soaring prices. NBCLX Political Editor Noah Pransky breaks down what’s causing these complex issues, and what the Biden White House is able to do about them.

According to IRS data, 305,000 West Virginia children benefited from the expanded credit last month.

Manchin’s opposition in the evenly split Senate derailed Biden’s social spending package and caused the expanded tax credits that were going out in the middle of every month to expire in January. This is whittling down family incomes at the precise moment when people are grappling with higher prices.

However, families only received half of their 2021 credit on a monthly basis and the other half will be received once they file their taxes in the coming months. The size of the credit will be cut in 2022, with full payments only going to families that earned enough income to owe taxes, a policy choice that will limit the benefits for the poorest households. And the credits for 2022 will come only once people file their taxes at the start of the following year.

West Virginia families interviewed by The Associated Press highlighted how their grocery and gasoline bills have risen and said they’ll need to get by with less of a financial cushion than a few months ago.

“You’re going to have to learn to adapt,” said Roberts, who worked as an auto dealer for five decades. “You never really dreamed that everything would all of a sudden explode. You go down and get a package of hamburger and it’s $7-8 a pound.”

More Child Tax Credit Coverage

By the Biden administration’s math, the expanded child tax credit and its monthly payments were a policy success that paid out $93 billion over six months. More than 36 million families received the payments in December. The payments were $300 monthly for each child who was 5 and younger and $250 monthly for children between the ages of 6 and 17.

The Treasury Department declined to address questions about the expiration of the expanded child tax credit, which has become a politically sensitive issue as part of Biden’s nearly $2 trillion economic package that has stalled in the Senate.

Manchin has supported some form of a work requirement for people receiving the payment, out of concern that automatic government aid could cause people to quit their jobs. Yet his primary objection, in a written statement last month, sidestepped that issue as he expressed concerns about inflation and that a one-year extension masked the true costs of a tax credit that could become permanent.

“My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face,” Manchin said. He added that he was worried about inflation and the size of the national debt.

Young people are much more likely to prioritize issues like climate change over the national debt than older generations when hitting the voting booth, research shows. NBCLX political editor Noah Pransky explores the reasons for this generational divide.

The Census Bureau surveyed the spending patterns of recipients during September and October. Nearly a third used the credit to pay for school expenses, while about 25% of families with young children spent it on child care. About 40% of recipients said they mostly relied on the money to pay off debt.

There are separate benefits in terms of improving the outcomes for impoverished children, whose families could not previously access the full tax credit because their earnings were too low. An analysis by the Urban Institute estimated that extending the credit as developed by the Biden administration would cut child poverty by 40%.

The tax credits did not cause an immediate exodus from the workforce, as some lawmakers had feared. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the percentage of people with jobs increased from 58% the month before the monthly payments began to 59.5% last month. That same trend occurred in West Virginia, where the employment-population ratio rose to the pre-pandemic level of 52.9%.

There’s an academic debate over whether the credit could suppress employment in the long term, with most studies suggesting that the impact would be statistically negligible.

Academics who study the tax credit are torn on how a permanent program would affect the economy and child welfare.

Katherine Michelmore, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan, and two other researchers estimated that roughly 350,000 parents would exit the workforce, a figure that is not all that significant in an economy with roughly 150 million jobs.

Michelmore said the long-term effects of a permanent tax credit would have a positive impact on the economy, as children who grow up in families with higher incomes “tend to do better in school, they’re more likely to graduate from high school. It might be 50 years down the road but there will be more cost savings in the future.”

One of the key questions for policymakers is whether bureaucracies or parents are better at spending money on children. Manchin has proposed a 10-year, funded version of Biden’s economic proposal that would scrap the child tax credits focus and instead finance programs such as universal pre-kindergarten, to avoid sending money directly to families.

“It’s a moral question of do you trust families to make their own decisions,” Michelmore said.

Hairdresser Chelsea Woody is a single mother from Charleston, West Virginia, who works six days a week to make ends meet. The extended child tax credit payments had helped pay for her son’s daycare, as well as letting her splurge on clothes for him.

“It truly helps out a lot. It’s an extra cushion, instead of me worrying how I’m going to pay a bill or if anything comes up,” Woody said as she loaded groceries into her car. “It’s helpful for a lot of people. It helps working families out because we struggle the most. I’m hardly home with my kid because I work all the time.”

Hussein reported from Washington and Boak from Baltimore.

The hundreds of dollars a month from child tax credit payments could go a long way – you could use it for expenses now or even prevent credit card debt during the holiday season. Personal finance expert Catherine Alford discusses the options.

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Police search for man who stole a woman’s purse in Tamarac




TAMARAC. FLA. (WSVN) – Police are on the lookout for a man who stole a woman’s purse in Tamarac.

Surveillance video captured the purse snatching as it unfolded.

The man walked into a store and stole a mother’s purse from her baby’s stroller and then took off running.

It happened earlier in January at a beauty store near the 3100 block of West Commercial Boulevard.

If you have any information on this theft, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Browns DT McDowell arrested in Fla. in attack on officer




CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Malik McDowell, who was given a second chance by the team after serving jail time, was arrested Monday in Florida on charges of beating a police officer and public exposure.

Police in Deerfield Beach, Florida, said they were responding to a “naked male walking near a school” when an officer approached McDowell, who was sitting on a curb, according to the arrest report. The officer said McDowell stood up, uttered an obscenity at him and “charged at me full speed with a closed fist.”

The officer said he was unable to avoid McDowell’s attack or use any “de-escalation tactics.” McDowell slammed into the officer and punched him in the right eye and on the top of the head, according to the report.

McDowell fled before he was stopped using a stun gun and handcuffed. The officer said his right eye was nearly closed because of swelling from the punches he absorbed in the attack and there is a “likelihood that I sustained permanent injury to my eye.”

McDowell was charged with aggravated battery on an officer, resisting an officer/obstructing with violence and exposure of sex organs in public. Bail was posted at $25,000. It was unclear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

The Browns released a statement on McDowell, who was under contract with the team for only one season, saying they were seeking more information.

“We are aware of the very concerning incident and arrest involving Malik McDowell and are in the process of gathering more information,” the team said. “We understand the severity of this matter and our thoughts are for the well-being of all involved. We will have no further comment at this time.”

McDowell came to the Browns with a troubled past.

A second-round pick by Seattle in 2017 out of Michigan State, the 6-foot-6, 290-pounder never played for the Seahawks after suffering a brain injury in an ATV accident that was followed by several arrests and an 11-month stay in a Michigan jail.

In 2019, McDowell was charged with assault, resisting arrest and operating a vehicle while intoxicated. In a video capturing the incident, McDowell fought two police officers even after they used a stun gun on him.

Browns general manager Andrew Berry took a chance on McDowell, who was a long shot to make the roster when training camp opened but impressed the team with his size, strength and potential after not playing for more than two years.

McDowell played well in stretches this season, finishing with three sacks in 14 starts. It was possible the Browns were going to re-sign him as an exclusive rights free agent.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Fla. State Sen. Ileana Garcia On Critical Race Theory: ‘I Have Been Discriminated On All Fronts. Should We Take It Personally?’




TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to prohibit critical race theory from being taught in schools or used in employee training sessions began moving forward Tuesday in the Florida Senate, as outnumbered Democrats warned that the legislation would stifle educators and lead to frivolous lawsuits.

The Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee approved the bill (SB 148) in a 6-3 vote along party lines. The measure came after the governor last month proposed what he dubbed the “Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees Act,” or Stop WOKE Act. DeSantis for months has targeted critical race theory, which is based on the premise that racism is embedded in American institutions, from the workplace to classrooms.

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In part, the bill would prohibit employers from subjecting “any individual, as a condition of employment, membership, certification, licensing, credentialing or passing an examination, to training, instruction, or any other required activity” that is centered on a number of race-related concepts.

For example, the proposal would prohibit employers from conducting training that “compels” people to believe that they bear “responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of, actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex or national origin.”

This past Sunday, on Facing South Florida, CBS4’s Jim DeFede asked Republican State Senator Ileana Garcia about why she supports the bill.

“Critical race theory is I think that bringing to the public, bringing to the plate the fact that in the past we have had situations where there have been discrimination. As a Hispanic, I have been discriminated on all fronts. Should we take it personally? I don’t think that we should take it personally,” said Garcia.

“I do know of conversations where teachers come in and feel that they need to have this conversation with students and suggest that this is something that that they need to be aware of, that there is a division.”

DeFede asked her, “You don’t think that the African American experience today is different than the experience by either yourself or someone like me.?”

Garcia said, “No, not at all. As a matter of fact… That’s why we had Obama as a president. That’s the best example in the world. Obama was president now for four years for eight.”

Senate sponsor Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, told reporters after the committee meeting: “The intention of the bill … is to make sure that these trainings that occur are objective, and that we’re not finding a person guilty of something just because of their ethnic background or the color of their skin. I think that we have to go back to the premise that all of us are created equal, and we should be judged on our individual merits, or deeds, not a blanket statement.”

Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat who is an attorney, said the part of the bill that deals with employer training is “awful for the business community” and criticized what she called vague language in the measure.

“We’re telling a company if they want to teach anti-discrimination, they want to teach diversity, they want to teach unconscious bias, which is a course in the Florida Senate, that they will potentially be creating the cause of action from a disgruntled employee,” Polsky said. “I do this all the time, people bring lawsuits because they get terminated and they’re really upset. And they try to find a reason as to why they were terminated.”

Opposing critical race theory has become a political rallying cry for Republicans across the country.

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The Senate bill does not specifically mention critical race theory. But it effectively seeks to cement into law a ban on critical race theory as part of Florida’s curriculum standards. The State Board of Education passed such a ban during the summer.

The proposal would allow teachers to facilitate discussions “in an age-appropriate manner” about topics like sexism, slavery and racial oppression and segregation. “However, classroom instruction and curriculum may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view inconsistent with the principles of this subsection (of law) or state academic standards,” the bill said.

Democrats have repeatedly argued that the controversy over critical race theory is a distraction from real issues facing the state and that the theory is not taught in Florida public schools. Diaz, however, said that “a lot of us have heard from individual parents with concerns,” and that the measure is a preemptive attempt to provide “clarity.”

But Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, argued that such legislation would suppress teachers’ freedom to teach certain subject areas.

“All this legislation is going to do is to promote ignorance of race-related content and other content that children should know about and should have access to,” said Jones, who was formerly a classroom teacher.

Neisha-Rose Hines, a lobbyist representing the ACLU of Florida, similarly said the legislation is a “censorship bill” and would have a chilling effect on educators’ ability to teach topics like history.

But Diaz argued several times that the bill simply aims to ensure that topics like history are taught with “accuracy”

“I reject that premise. I think it’s clearly stating in the bill that it encourages these conversations that need to be had. What we cannot do is have a perspective imposed on students that is not an actual part of our history,” Diaz told reporters.

The measure is missing one key part of the plan that DeSantis laid out in his proposed “Stop WOKE” act. DeSantis said it would aim to allow parents to sue schools that teach the theory, and to recover attorney fees if they are successful in the litigation.

Diaz’s bill does not include such a provision. Asked by reporters about whether a cause of action for parents would be added to the bill, Diaz said “it’s a work in progress like every other bill in this process.”

A similar House bill (HB 7) is awaiting committee action.

MORE NEWS: In Unusual Move, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis Submits Redistricting Map

(©2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida’s Ryan Dailey contributed to this report.)

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