According to a report from the Washington Post, voters back in West Virginia are furious with Sen. Joe Manchin (D) for bullying his fellow Democrats to take out much-needed aid for poorer families, saying they could use the financial assistance and he is disregarding them.
Of particular concern is Manchin wanting to limit an expanded child tax credit that could have a positive impact on thousands of West Virginia families.
As the Post reports, "... the moderate Democrat from West Virginia implied he would not support extending the monthly payments, which come in the form of an expanded child tax credit, without changes," saying in an interview, "There's no work requirements whatsoever. There's no education requirements whatsoever for better skillsets. Don't you think, if we're going to help the children, that the people should make some effort?"
That, in turn, is angering some of his constituents.
According to the report, Ruth and James Jones of Charleston are barely getting by while raising two grandchildren, ages 10 and 17, with the Post noting they are surviving on "James's part-time earnings as an Applebee's cook and Ruth's Social Security payments."
"Like thousands of other West Virginians, their financial burden has been eased since July by monthly federal payments, championed by the Biden administration, to support families with children. Now, however, those funds — which total $500 a month — could vanish if lawmakers agree to the demands of their own senator, Joe Manchin III," the report continues.
According to the 64-year-old James, "We want Manchin to take a little bit more active role in protecting us as far as West Virginians. We're not a bunch of deadbeats. We work for a living and we're due."
As one family advocate explained, federal aid is helping many West Virginia families stay together.
According to Beth Zarate, president and chief executive of Catholic Charities West Virginia, "For some of our clients, this is keeping them above water right now. West Virginia just has so many challenges. We struggle with jobs, we struggle with our people leaving our state for other jobs. So the Child Tax Credit has been huge."
Seth DiStefano, policy outreach director at the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, concurred.
"The opportunity to cut child poverty in half in West Virginia is one that we have to take and imposing a work requirement basically neutralizes that benefit right out the gate. Let's be clear: parenting is working, raising kids is work," he stated.
Jess Greenlief, 38, who gets $550 per month, explained how much she has come to depend on the help.
"It takes close to an hour to get anywhere important," she explained. "A lot of the resources that typically are available elsewhere don't trickle down to us. Many of our jobs are related to the gas and oil industry, and a lot of those jobs are on hold right now or are out of state."
She added, "What we see a lot of are upper-class poor. These are individuals who make too much money for programmatic support, but they are still struggling on the whole."
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