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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins: Helping families afford the rising cost of parenting

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  • Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation I introduced to update and expand the child tax credit by a vote of 237-171.
    The Child Tax Credit Improvement Actof 2014 indexes the child tax credit to inflation, eliminates the marriage penalty, and helps families afford the rising costs of parenting.
    Kids are expensive and the costs for raising children continue to go up. The current child tax credit fails to take these increased costs into account because the credit is not indexed for inflation and has remained at $1,000 per child since 2004.
    A recent study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that for a middle income family it will cost more than $241,000 to raise a child until age 18. This is an increase of almost 10 percent since the last time the child tax credit was updated.
    My legislation indexes the credit and limitations to inflation to help parents keep more of their hard earned money to use for the mounting expenses of parenting. My bill also removes the marriage penalty embedded in the current tax credit and ensures those who choose to get married before they have kids do not have to pay more than those who do not.
    I am pleased this legislation passed the House, and I urge the Senate to follow our lead by taking up this important bill that will improve the quality of life for working families. To learn more about my legislation and other legislation making the tax code simpler and fairer, read my joint opinion editorial with Congresswoman Diane Black in the Washington Examiner, “Eliminating marriage penalty in family tax issues, simplifying education credits just makes good sense.”
    When families succeed, our economy succeeds
    A recent headline in the Wall Street Journal asks, “Can you really afford to have a child?"
    This is the same question families in Kansas are asking themselves, sitting around the kitchen table discussing the future.
    The cover of the Washington Post also had a story about a working family in the Midwest who is struggling to start a family. The Post states, “The languishing economy has caused people to doubt if they can afford to be parents.” And Gallup recently found that the main reasons Americans have delayed parenthood were worries about money and the economy.
    This week, we took up my bill the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act, which is designed to help struggling families pay for the rising costs of raising children. We all know that when working families succeed, our nation’s economy succeeds.
    Examining broader problems with ObamaCare subsidies
    The Government Accountability Office released last week the results of an undercover investigation into the potential abuse of ObamaCare premium tax credit subsidies. Fake applications were able to successfully get subsidized coverage in 11 of 18 attempts. The federal government will distribute more than $1 trillion in subsidies over the next decade, and it is absolutely imperative that we ensure these taxpayer dollars are not vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight recently had a hearing to examine the GAO’s findings, which underscore the broader problems wih the premium tax credit subsidies. The agencies administering the tax credits do not have the infrastructure necessary to verify applicant’s information before handing taxpayer dollars to bad actors. When it comes to ObamaCare, the administration chooses to either ignore the law, or when they do implement it, they do so imcompentently.
    International Self-Care Day
    Last week, we marked International Self-Care Day, which highlights the health benefits of over-the-counter medicines and consumers’ access to these medicines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    Unfortunately, the president’s health care law restricts Americans’ use of Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts to purchase OTC medicine like aspirin or allergy medication. Folks are already facing higher premiums, and requiring an unnecessary prescription for over-the-counter medicines only costs families more time and money.
    USA Today reported: “For many Americans, the first line of defense against illness is an over-the-counter medicine. But OTC meds are now more costly for many, since flexible spending accounts no longer cover them."
    Last year, I introduced the Restoring Access to Medication Act, which repeals this portion of the president’s health care law, and restores the ability for individuals to manage their own health care expenses, giving consumers power over their own health care spending.
    Tax reform legislation to help students
    The House passed last week the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act, which was introduced by my colleague on the Ways and Means Committee, Congresswoman Diane Black.
    The legislation consolidates four separate tax provisions into one, robust education tax benefit to make it easier for families. Parents and students no longer need to go through the 90 pages of IRS instuctions to apply for these education incentives, and instead, can apply for this single, simplified credit to help pay for the rising costs of higher education.

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