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Opinion Pieces

Guest Commentary: My Enduring Friendship with Nick Benton & the News-Press

I read a fascinating, if discouraging, survey this week comparing the number of friendships we have today versus that of 30 years ago.

The number of those who confess to having zero friends has increased from three percent to 13 percent, while those boasting 10 good friends or more has fallen from 33 percent to 12 percent.

I dare not wade into sociology, psychology, and cultural anthropology to explain these numbers; I just count my every friendship as a true blessing and try to remember that friendships require effort to get outside of ourselves to engage in the lives of other people.

Nick Benton has been a friend of mine for more than 30 years. He is relentless, indefatigable, creative, entrepreneurial, and yes, even opinionated. Nick is also among the most loyal persons I have ever known.

For these three decades, Nick Benton has been fiercely loyal to the citizens of Falls Church.

He has categorized our births and deaths, graduations and weddings, new buildings and old history. Our very sense of community, in this fractured world of social media, remote work, and creeping friendlessness, has been enhanced and reinforced every Thursday by Nick’s Falls Church News Press and his unique voice.

Many have written about the tragic disappearance of local newspapers around the country. Despite a shaky business environment for the industry, regardless of national trends, Nick Benton has persisted in giving us, every week, a reason to read about this singular Little City. He gives us the glue — along with the school system of world-class excellence — to come together as a community.

Thank you, Nick! Thank you, Falls Church News Press, for giving us an important way to connect with the neighbors around us. Thank you for expanding our own circles of friends.

It’s always nice when I am able to share good news, and this July delivered some. As many are aware, in mid-July most families began receiving monthly Child Tax Credit payments.

The enhanced Child Tax Credit provides eligible families a total of $3,600 for each child under the age of six, and $3,000 for each child between the ages six and 17.

Payments began going out on July 15, with qualifying families seeing monthly payments of up to $300 per child under six and up to $250 per child 6-17 years old.

Most families who filed taxes in the last two years will receive this tax cut automatically for the next year. The IRS launched a new portal that will allow those not required to file taxes normally to input their information to receive Child Tax Credit Payments. Those interested in learning more about the Child Tax Credit can visit ChildTaxCredit.Gov.

These payments, passed as part of the American Rescue Plan, will reach an estimated 100,000 children in our district. Estimates released by the House Appropriations Committee find that 7,500 of those children will be lifted out of poverty, contributing to the larger goal of the legislation to lift half of all American children out of poverty.

I am very proud of the expanded Child Tax Credit, and helped pass it via the House Committee on Ways and Means. I believe the credit will help rebuild our economy from the bottom up. Like the larger bill in which it passed, this tax cut has proven so popular that even some of those who voted against it have touted its benefits.

While the initial expansion of the credit in the American Rescue Plan only lasts for one year, it is one of my top priorities in upcoming legislation to make the measure permanent.

These payments will help parents pay for housing, put food on the table, and cover the costs of health and child care — all essentials which every American deserves.

The enhanced Child Tax Credit is a new approach after Republican tax cuts for the very rich driven by trickle down economics. These tax cuts ensure that benefits reach those who need them most. This is the smart way to build our economy: from the bottom up.

Don Beyer is a U.S. Congressman for the 8th District of Virginia, which includes the City of Falls Church.