OP Ed: Senators Should Seize Opportunity to Boost Small Business and Help WV Kids

Capito and Manchin should back a proposal to expand Child Tax Credit and extend small business relief.

At a time of so much division and gridlock, lawmakers in Washington recently surprised Americans with some good news. The US House of Representatives passed legislation to expand the Child Tax Credit and badly needed tax relief for small businesses through the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024

This bipartisan deal is worth celebrating. It could help millions of children living near the poverty line while also boosting our economy. Crucially, it does all this without adding to the budget deficit.

However, the legislation is stalled in the US Senate.

I urge our Senators, Joe Manchin and Shelly Moore Capito, to endorse and help push this legislation to the finish line, giving significant benefits to our small businesses and working families.

A quarter of West Virginia’s kids are estimated to live in poverty. That’s a moral failure. As our state’s Commissioner of Agriculture, I think every day about how we can ensure that hungry kids are fed and that rural families can find good livelihoods. But too many children in our state are still facing extreme hardship and losing opportunities for their future. The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act would pull at least 500,000 children nationwide above the poverty line and provide benefits to 16 million low-income families with children. Here in West Virginia, it would help at least 87,000 children, whose families’ incomes are too low to qualify for the existing Child Tax Credit.

There’s a strong economic case for this legislation. I often meet with business owners, farmers, and others who regularly face a tough choice: expand their workforce or prioritize investments in essential equipment. The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act allows American companies to deduct research and development expenses and write off a larger portion of their equipment investments upfront. These provisions help our businesses survive and grow— which, in turn, helps alleviate poverty.

While this is a bill to fight poverty, it’s not another big government spending program. It’s fundamentally about tax relief. It’s fully funded by terminating the Employee Retention Tax Credit – a COVID-era program that was marked by cost overruns and fraud. That’s why Republican leaders including Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum, tax reduction advocates, and major pro-life groups, among others, have strongly backed the deal.

Senators need to recognize that time is short. With the 2017 Trump tax cuts expiring next year, there may not be another chance to pass these reforms.

Washington needs to get this one right. I see immense value in this bill: it offers a meaningful opportunity to address child poverty and stimulate economic growth, without contributing to the deficit. It is a win-win for West Virginia and the nation.

Kent A. Leonhardt
West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.