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Finance & Innovation

Hillary Clinton Has a New Plan to Help the Poorest Americans — But at What Cost?

Hillary Clinton has released a new tenet of her tax plan: an update to the existing rules surrounding the child tax credit. Under Clinton’s plan, families who earn less than $3,000 per year, but more than $1, will be eligible for a tax credit if they have a child under 17 years old. Currently any family that earns less than $3,000 dollar a year is not eligible for child tax credits.

This plan targets the poorest of the poor — earners of less than $3,000 per year — but could come at a high cost. NPR reports that the updated child tax credit regulations would cost $150-$200 billion in the first 10 years.

Read more: 12 Must-Read Quotes from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s First Debate

The Trump campaign has blasted Clinton’s general tax policy, saying: “The Clinton plan, as released by WikiLeaks, is ‘open borders,’ Medicare and Social Security cuts, and benefits only for Wall Street."

Trump has also put forward a childcare tax plan that his campaign says will “reduce the cost of childcare by allowing families to fully deduct the average cost of childcare from their taxes, including stay-at-home parents.”

The Trump campaign has not said anything about a child tax credit.

Reviews for Trump’s childcare tax policy have been mixed. CBS News wrote that the childcare tax policy would benefit lower-income Americans by raising the minimum income families must report in order to owe taxes.

But Forbes argued that Trump “has proposed a big tax cut for families with kids which is of limited help to the very poor.”

For the Clinton camp, the child tax credit reflects an effort to mobilize lower-income voters and distance herself from past mistakes with regards providing a safety net to the poorest Americans.

Read more: 5 Ways We Can End Extreme Poverty

In 1996, Clinton supported a welfare reform bill that has been widely discredited for increasing the amount of families in deep poverty. Clinton’s support for her husband’s reform drove a wedge between Clinton and Sanders supporters in the primary. 

And of course, for either candidate, their ability to help the poorest Americans depends on Congressional support. But at least the question of how to help America’s poorest is on the table, and no matter which way the election goes, that’s a good thing.