Washington — Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah released a proposal on Thursday aimed at providing direct payments monthly to parents, with the goal of attracting bipartisan support for a plan aimed at significantly reducing child poverty in the U.S.
Under Romney's plan, named the Family Security Act, families with children would receive a monthly cash benefit of hundreds of dollars per child. Families with children up to five years old would receive $4,200 per year per child in $350 monthly payments, and families with children ages 6 to 17 would receive $3,000 per year per child, or $250 per month. Romney's proposal caps the monthly amount for a family to $1,250, and expecting parents can apply for the benefit four months before the child's due date.
"American families are facing greater financial strain, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and marriage and birth rates are at an all-time low," Romney said in a statement. "This proposal offers a path toward greater security for America's families by consolidating the many complicated programs to create a monthly cash benefit for them, without adding to the deficit."
Individual taxpayers making up to $200,000 and couples making up to $400,000 would be eligible for the payments, with payments phasing out above those income levels.
A summary of the $254 billion proposal specifies that it would be deficit-neutral by eliminating other areas of spending, including the State and Local Tax Deduction and the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which will likely draw opposition from Democrats.
Romney is expected to file the plan as an amendment to thecurrently under consideration in the Senate on Thursday, according to a source familiar with the senator's plan.
According to an analysis by the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank, Romney's proposal would cut child poverty in the U.S. by up to a third, and deep child poverty by half.
Ron Klain, President Biden's chief of staff, weighed in on the proposal, tweeting that he is "looking forward to see what @Senator Romney will propose here — an encouraging sign that bipartisan action to reduce child poverty is possible."
A Romney aide said the Utah senator's office has communicated with officials in the Biden administration and is willing to work with them.
The Biden administration $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package calls for increasing the child tax credit to $3,600 for children up to age 6, and $3,000 per child up to age 17. The White House is also supportive for an additional $1 billion for states to help TANF recipients due to the COVID-19 pandemic.