The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) lifts more children out of poverty than any other social program in America -- indeed, more than all other means-tested benefit programs combined. That's because it provides a substantial tax credit for low-income working parents, which is also refundable. That is, it is paid in full to them whether or not they owe income taxes. Last year, 16 million low-income families with children received $30 billion under this federal tax program.
During a recent visit to the office of one of the Senate's more thoughtful and influential Democrats, I was told by the senator's legislative director: "The Democrats' first priority in this Congress is a middle-class tax cut. Now let's move on to the second priority: if s a middle-class tax cut. Then there's the third priority: a middle-class tax cut."
For a decade, Democrats have been badgered as the tax-and-spend party that ached to put its hand in your pocket and take some of your hard-earned cash. Many Democrats yearn for the times when they appeared as champions of the average family, as they did during the fall 1990 budget clash when they fought off clumsy White House efforts to shift tax increases from the rich to the middle class.