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The Inclusive Economy

Success! Congress Just Acted to Protect Working Families—Thanks to Tireless Advocacy Efforts

By Emanuel Nieves and Shervan Sebastian on 12/18/2015 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: Federal Policy, News, Taxpayer Opportunity Network, Assets & Opportunity Initiative, EITC, Economic Inclusion

Today, CFED, the Assets & Opportunity Network and the Taxpayer Opportunity Network can celebrate two hard-fought victories as Congress reached an agreement to make recent improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) permanent and also rejected all legislative proposals that would have undermined consumer protections from being included in a must-pass spending bill.

As a result of the tax deal reached in Congress this week, 16 million families—including 8 million children—will no longer face the prospect of being pushed into or deeper into poverty in 2018. Instead, these families will now have the opportunity to be lifted out of poverty and will have access to increased financial opportunity and stability. Moreover, consumers across the country will continue to have the full strength of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other regulators behind them, ensuring that consumer markets continue to be fair and responsible. These two victories are monumental achievements that will have a great impact on working families and individuals for years to come.

None of this was guaranteed, however, and many deemed the effort hopeless from the start, saying that protecting the CFPB and achieving a big tax deal in Congress would require a lot of luck given the inability of Congress over the years to take action on bold and widely effective legislation.

Well, it wasn’t luck. This was hard fought.

This week’s legislative victories are the direct result of sustained and tireless effort by advocates—including members of the A&O Network and the Taxpayer Opportunity Network—who work on behalf of low- and moderate-income families. It was only through this hard work that we are where we are today.

Over the last several years, CFED, the A&O Network and the Taxpayer Opportunity Network have been waging this fight. Our collective efforts were felt as recently as last month, as we worked with Network members to secure 64 Congressional meetings to make a clear and effective argument for why these provisions were needed. Our asks were simple: protect the CFPB and ensure that any deal made to provide tax breaks for businesses was balanced with tax credits that protected working families.

We also worked with Taxpayer Opportunity Network members to gather and publish stories of the effect that the EITC and CTC has on taxpayers who file their returns with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, making a clear case for the impact that these credits have on working families. And through our #ConsumerCantWait work, we’ve continued to push for the CFPB to be fully protected so that it can continue to guard all consumers from unscrupulous financial practices.

This is a lesson for 2016 – though it may seem tough, it may seem unimaginable and it may seem unachievable, we can and will succeed if we continue to ensure that the collective voices of low- and moderate-income families are heard on Capitol Hill.

While tomorrow will see us re-engage in the fight on behalf of hard-working Americans, we should be proud of what we’ve achieved this week and use these victories to continue pressing forward.

You can help make more victories like this possible! Find out more about how you can engage with the Assets & Opportunity Network or the Taxpayer Opportunity Network to advocate for low-income families and individuals in your community and across the country.

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