Expanding tax credits holds bipartisan promises, but raising minimum wage is an obstacle

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s search for bipartisan achievement in a divided Congress may find common ground with his proposal to expand the earned-income tax credit to childless workers. The president’s plan would broaden benefits that now mainly go to low-income working parents.

The program has support across a broad spectrum of policy analysts, prompting both liberal and conservative economists to embrace it.

The federal tax credit goes to low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Provided as a tax refund, it is intended to be an incentive to find work and to help offset Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. Though childless workers are eligible, the largest part of the credit benefits families.

The idea of expanding the program was the only new legislative proposal in Obama’s State of the Union.