The Fiscalization of Social Policy: How Taxpayers Trumped Children in the Fight Against Child Poverty

The Fiscalization of Social Policy: How Taxpayers Trumped Children in the Fight Against Child Poverty

by Joshua T. McCabe


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In 1970, a single mother with two children working full-time at the federal minimum wage in the US received no direct cash benefits from the federal government. Today, after a period of austerity, that same mother would receive $7,572 in federal cash benefits. This money does not come from social assistance, family allowances, or other programs we traditionally see as part of the welfare state. Instead, she benefits from the earned income tax credit (EITC) and the child tax credit (CTC)-tax credits for low-income families that have become a major component of American social policy.

In The Fiscalization of Social Policy, Joshua McCabe challenges conventional wisdom on American exceptionalism, offering the first and only comparative analysis of the politics of tax credits. Drawing comparisons between similar developments in the UK and Canada, McCabe upends much of what we know about tax credits for low-income families. Rather than attributing these changes to anti-welfare attitudes, mobilization of conservative forces, shifts toward workfare, or racial antagonism, he argues that the growing use of tax credits for social policy was a strategic adaptation to austerity. While all three countries employ the same set of tax credits, child US poverty rates remain highest, as their tax credits paradoxically exclude the poorest families.

A critical examination of social policy over the last fifty years, The Fiscalization of Social Policy shows why the US government hasn't tackled poverty, even while it implements greater tax benefits for the poor.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190841300
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 06/19/2018
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 9.40(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Joshua T. McCabe is Assistant Dean of Social Sciences and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Endicott College. He was previously the associate director at Wellesley College's Freedom Project. His research interests include economic sociology and political sociology with a focus on the comparative politics of taxation and social policy. He is especially motivated by puzzles of American exceptionalism and their practical implications for public policy.

Table of Contents

1. American Exceptionalism Revisited
2. The Great Divergence
3. From the Era of Easy Finance to Permanent Austerity
4. Canada: Taking Children Off Welfare
5. The United Kingdom: The Children's Budget
6. The United States: Tax Relief for Families
7. Conclusion

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