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Jessica Vega Pederson Says Congress Should Pay the Cost of the Baby’s Room

In other words, she asks that Congress create a guaranteed universal income for every child in America, regardless of what their parents do for a living.

The COVID-19 relief package signed last week by President Joe Biden represents one of the largest efforts in decades by the federal government to lift children out of poverty.

Jessica Vega Pederson says that should be the new normal.

On Sunday, Vega Pederson, a Multnomah County commissioner, joined several Portland-area progressives in a letter to Oregon's congressional delegation. Their request: that the per-child cash payments in the latest COVID-19 stimulus bill become permanent.

In other words, she asks that Congress create a guaranteed universal income for every child in America, regardless of what their parents do for a living.

The Sightline Institute, a sustainability nonprofit that organized the letter, did the math on what a $250-a-month payment would mean. Its estimate: It would deliver $270 million a year to 90,000 Oregon children now living in poverty.

Another way of looking at the payment, says Vega Pederson: It subsidizes the cost every family incurs by housing a kid. Having a baby means needing another room in the house. Additional housing space is the single greatest cost incurred by parents: It adds at least $263 each month to the housing costs of families making less than $59,000 a year.

Note how close that number is to the cash payments Vega Pederson and her colleagues propose. That's no accident: They argue that the feds can aid child safety by making sure families can afford to house them.

In this conversation, Vega Pederson discusses why kids should get an allowance—from Congress.