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Ohio Senate candidate Moreno cites birthrate in favor of pro-family economics

EXCLUSIVE — Ohio Senate hopeful Bernie Moreno said he will push for pro-family economic policies should he make it to Capitol Hill, citing declining birthrates in the United States.

Moreno, a 57-year-old car dealership owner, is hoping to unseat incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in Ohio’s competitive Senate race. The race is listed by the Cook Political Report as a toss-up, meaning it is a crucial race for Republicans hoping to retake the Senate in November.

During an interview this week with the Washington Examiner, Moreno painted himself as a pro-family Republican eager to get to Washington, D.C., and push for economic policies that would help support families and reverse the declining birthrate. He also emphasized the need to keep the U.S. jobs market competitive on the global stage.

“We have to do anything that helps to improve our birthrate,” Moreno said. “We’re not even at replacement levels right now, and so we have to take a look at policies, tax policy specifically, that helps encourage people to have more kids.”

The U.S. total fertility rate was sitting at an average of 2.1 births per woman in 2007, but has fallen to 1.7 births per woman in 2021, according to the latest year of data. The replacement rate is 2.1.

When asked whether he would support a bigger child tax credit, Moreno said that he would “as long as it doesn’t become a welfare program.”

“The devil is in the details. Directionally, what I would say to you is: I’m going to support policies that advance American families so that we get to above replacement levels,” he said.

The child tax credit has been a hot political topic in Washington. Traditionally, Democrats were the party seeking to expand the popular credit, and that includes Moreno’s opponent Brown. In recent years, though, some Republicans, such as Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Mitt Romney (R-UT), have supported bigger credits, arguing that it promotes family growth.

Still, there is a divide in the party over the matter, with some more traditional lawmakers favoring lower tax rates over enlarged credits.

Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks to supporters during his primary election night watch party in Westlake, Ohio, Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

The child tax credit is $2,000 for minors. It was set at that level by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, known as the Republican or Trump tax cuts.

The child tax credit was temporarily increased as part of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief legislation. That raised it to $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for older children, with perhaps the biggest change being the removal of an income threshold for those who receive the funds. Thus, a family with no income or head of household working would also receive the full $3,600 or $3,000 payments. The boosted tax credit sunset at the end of 2021.

Republicans largely opposed the temporary pandemic-era expansion because of the lack of work requirements, something they branded as welfare without work. Of note, Moreno’s opponent Brown has also backed a bigger child tax credit and voted for the 2021 expansion that included the removal of an income threshold.

Much of the 2017 tax cuts are set to expire next year, setting up an opportunity for the party that prevails in this year’s election to remake tax policy. Republicans have said they will fight hard to preserve the tax cuts that were part of the landmark 2017 legislation and if Moreno wins the election, he will quickly be thrown into the politics of tax policy.

In terms of broader tax policy, Moreno said he wants to make the Trump tax cuts permanent.

Just ahead of Moreno’s interview with the Washington Examiner, Biden called for tripling tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, a policy proposal timed for his meeting with union workers in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

Reacting to the news, Moreno dubbed the move “an election-year stunt.”

“He’s been in office for over three years and actually when he was running, criticized President Trump’s trade policy,” Moreno said.

Moreno said that he is a proponent of “fair trade.”

“The reality is we’ve got countries like China that manipulate their currency, subsidize their industries, do predatory moves that destroy industries and later raise prices — we can’t be suckers and allow ourselves to get into terrible trade deals like that,” he said.

He said it is crucial that the U.S. has fair trade deals that put U.S. workers at a competitive advantage in certain industries and said tariffs are one tool to equalize the playing field.

Moreno also discussed the rise of the corporate environmental, social, and governance movement, or ESG. ESG is a financial concept that centers on compelling social change through investment and divestment. It has grown controversial in recent years, as Republicans have argued that it is used to advance liberal economic and social goals through financial institutions.

Moreno argued that Republicans care about conserving the environment more than Democrats do, branding Democratic environmental advocacy as “performative art.”

Moreno noted that China and India make up a significant share of global emissions.

“You can’t cripple U.S. industry and then take that industry and move into China and India — they’re the world’s largest polluters of the planet — and think that we’re doing something to help global climate change,” he said. The U.S. was second in total emissions in 2020, behind China but ahead of India, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Moreno said that the U.S. needs to be smart about bringing industries back to the country, “where we do things safer, cleaner, better for the environment.”

Moreno said he aligns ideologically with several members of the Senate. When asked, he rattled off the names of Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) — naming different characteristics he liked of each.

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