In the heat of an intense presidential election season, weâ€™re no strangers to hearing about how awful economic inequality is across the country. One in three people live in poverty. Two out of three minimum wage workers are women. And although opportunities are scarce for all, there is a growing wage gap that few people are talking about: the gap between Millennials and non-Millennials. Economic instability for young people between the ages of 18 and 35 has become mainstream. Millennials face obstacles that other generations do not â€“ from skyrocketing student loan debt and stubbornly high unemployment youth rates, to new home ownership and childcare expenses. Living paycheck to paycheck, itâ€™s no wonder young workers are struggling to save for the future.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are two tax credits that have proven over time to benefit working and middle class families. In general, tax credits provide extra money to people who meet certain requirements and are a powerful tool to combatting poverty. The EITC, which targets low- and moderate-income working people, and the CTC, which benefits parents with children under 17, both put more money into the pockets of lower-wage families, spurring more spending. And the programs particularly benefit Millennials, who are disproportionately low-wage workers and parents of young children. President Reagan himself called the 1986 Tax Reform Act’s expansion of the EITC “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a long-time champion for working families, proposed a major expansion of the EITC to working adults without children at an event on reducing poverty and promoting economic mobility at the Center for American Progress on Tuesday. This change would directly benefit Millennials across the nation. As it stands, adults without children often receive few tax benefits and are generally the first to be pushed below the poverty line. But by expanding the EITC, Senator Brown intends to level the playing field for Millennials hoping to climb the ladder of socioeconomic mobility. â€œThe Earned Income Tax Credit has lifted more children out of poverty than any other government program,â€ Brown said at the event.
Last December, Congress permanently extended the CTC, bringing working families much needed relief. Senator Brown hopes the EITC will similarly expand.
Constructing public policy so that it parallels the way people are living is key to a successful nation. “You know, we say we value hard work in this country,â€ Senator Brown said in his closing remarks at the event. â€œIf we mean what we say, itâ€™s time to get behind common-sense ideas to make hard work pay.â€