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In the spring of 2021, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was a concerned man. In a book published this week: “That will not happenNew York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns report that the Senate Minority Leader told friends he believed the temporarily expanded child tax credit would prove so popular that even if Republicans did recapture the House of Representatives in the 2022 election, it would be too late to reverse the bill. The measure put hundreds of dollars a month in the pockets of US families and resulted in one almost immediately double digit decline in the number of children living in poverty. How would Republicans deal with that?

He got it wrong. The extension was allowed to expire in December. million households fell into poverty again as quickly as they were lifted out. The only scandal was that, contrary to McConnell’s fears, it wasn’t a scandal at all.

Instead, the tax credit saga showed that America’s declared devotion to children is often so much cheap sentiment. In the face of evidence that a few hundred extra dollars will vastly improve children’s well-being, we continue to choose to keep our nation’s wallet tightly closed.

Two recent reports – one by the Brookings Institutionthe other from the Center for Law and Social Policy — show how transformative the expanded is child allowancePassed by President Biden late in the winter of last year as part of America’s bailout plan, it was for millions of American families and offered not just money but security on multiple fronts.

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As a reminder of how it all worked, households with annual incomes of less than $150,000 received $3,600 for children under six and $3,000 for children seven and older, with much of the money provided in the form of a monthly stipend became. Higher-income households received money on a graduated scale. Altogether almost nine out of 10 Families with children under the age of 18 received money from the program. (My husband and I were one of them for a short time—we received a check just before our younger son grew old.)

The studies show that families used the temporary monthly stipend to pay for routine household expenses, including rent, school supplies and after-school activities, and groceries — families who received the loan reported eating more balanced meals. (Yes, there was slightly more fast food consumption than households that didn’t receive the benefit — but so did more protein, fruits, and vegetables.)

In fact, if Brookings comparing households that received the child tax break to households that did not qualify, they found that those that received the de facto exemption were more likely to pay credit card bills and less likely to resort to payday loans to make ends meet. Their chances of eviction were reduced. They were also less likely to resort to desperate measures like selling their blood plasma to raise money.

Nonetheless, Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) in particular encouraged people to believe in the myth of the sluggish and lazy parents living high on the government hog. HuffPost reported that Manchin privately told people he believed families would use the money to buy drugs.

Manchin was far from the only villain here. Survey showed that many did not want to see the measure in force permanently. (Seniors were particularly opposed to it.) True, Americans are always suspicious of anyone who is given a helping hand—but in this case, the people being helped were often us, or our family members, or our friends. It just didn’t seem to matter. The fact that millions of families are now Relapse into precarious living conditions hardly arouses any outrage.

Attempts to bring back the expansion seem doomed to failure. The White House is increasingly convinced that Manchin does not want to reach any agreement at all on Biden’s Build Back Better bill, which would have renewed the policy. As for the Expanded Child Tax Credit Legislation sponsored by Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Not only would it need bipartisan support — which is highly unlikely — it contains a poison pill for Democrats in the form of eliminating the federal tax break altogether for up to $10,000 in state and local taxes.

It’s all dime-wise but pound-stupid. As I pointed out last year, scientific research shows that family income support goes a long way improved infant birth weight to better graduation rates, and an increased likelihood of going to college. This, in turn, will benefit each of us immensely.

But none of these potential benefits can overcome our indifference to helping children and families. Check out our dismal track record. We are the only First World nation not to mandate paid family leave for new mothers. We suffer them highest child mortality rate of our peer countries. We pay their teachers less than others with similar educational qualifications, and our nation responds to mass school shootings with thoughts and prayers.

If you look at it through this prism, it comes as no surprise that the extended child tax credit was allowed to expire. It’s like it ever happened at all.