Quote of the Day:
Are there significant problems with Trump's proposals? Absolutely. Is it pandering to women voters? Unabashedly. Does this cover up Trump's misogynistic campaign rhetoric? Definitely not. But the GOP would be wise to improve upon these policies instead of only tearing them apart, because Trump is addressing important issues that the right has ignored for far too long.
We've already noted that Donald Trump's child-care proposals are being widely misrepresented in the media. In particular, Carrie has analyzed Trump's proposals and found ideas with potential (and which don't deviate as much as has been reported from conservative principles).
Now, Abby McCloskey has taken a look at the Trump proposals and urges that conservatives should engage with them rather than tearing them down. Indeed, she says that the candidate is engaging on an important issue that the right has long ignored. I urge you to read the entire article.
McCloskey starts with the high cost of child care. In Texas, for example, a study has found that infant care costs, on average,$ 8,759 a year, or $1,283 more than tuition at a public college in the state and only $1,586 below annual rent. This situation is typical throughout the nation.
McCloskey also argues that it is time for conservatives address the issue of paid maternity leave., which can be especially a problem for single-mothers. (IWF has addressed the issue, and our brief video on paid leave is a good way go understand the issue and why the government mandate won't work and could actually harm women. We propose savings accounts for family leave similar to medical savings accounts.) The left has one proposal for all these problems: government spending and regulation.
McCloskey points out that Trump's solution is different:
Trump has proposed reforming the unemployment insurance system to allow new mothers to have six weeks of paid maternity leave benefits equivalent to average unemployment benefits, similar to what I proposed in an essay for National Affairs last year.
Unlike the Democrats' option, this would carry a modest cost by keeping the size of the benefit small and the duration short, and providing it only to mothers. Employers wouldn't be incentivized to drop their existing plans, there would be no new employer mandates, and taxes wouldn't need to be raised because the funding would come from cuts to existing programs. The point is to function as a safety net for mothers who lack other options.
In many ways, the Trump approach is conservative. Conservatives generally are pro-life and pro-family. A paid leave policy would provide millions of new mothers with the means to take time off to physically heal from childbirth and to bond with their children. There's also significant evidence that a modest paid-leave benefit increases workforce attachment for new mothers, boosts their earnings potential and may decrease their reliance on other government benefits, such as food stamps — all conservative objectives.
Much attention has focused on how we would pay for this benefit. I estimate that such a program would cost anywhere from $2.5 billion to $5 billion. For perspective, this is a fraction of the $93 billion unemployment insurance program or $200 billion disability insurance program as of 2012. Trump has said the funds could come from waste and abuse in the unemployment insurance program. While this is unlikely to cover the full cost, there's no reason that the program couldn't be paid for by structural reforms to unemployment insurance or to the safety net more broadly.
Instead of saying the country can't afford any new program, irrespective of its size or merits, Republicans should take the lead on prioritizing deserving programs and cutting ineffective ones. There's a strong case to be made that providing a minimum level of support for new mothers should be a basic element of the safety net today, while Social Security benefits for multimillionaires might not.
But McCloskey adds that Trump's plan is deeply flawed. She describes it as expensive, inadequately targeted and often unclear. McCloskey is concerned that a rich family in New York could get $25,844 in tax bill reduction, while a single mother earning $15 an hour would receive only an increase of $1,200 in earned income tax credit. She is critical of the savings accounts we find appealing. She also says that the proposals do little to address the current labyrinth of child-support programs.
But she concludes that conservatives need to take up the challenge that the Trump proposals address:
A strong and growing economy must undergird any new family policy, to boost income and give families more choices when they are structuring work and family life. If the economy is growing, it becomes easier to live on one income, allowing one parent to stay at home with children, if he or she chooses. If the economy is growing, it becomes easier to pay for child care costs and other expenses that come with raising children. If the economy is growing, there are more jobs that may offer the flexibility today's parents want and need.
For conservatives, economic growth is too often the panacea, used to overlook acute economic issues. For the left, too often economic growth is an afterthought, if even that. The reality is that it's the necessary foundation for work and families to thrive and thus a vital component to family policy.
Trump's plan is an open door for Republicans to engage on family issues. They should run through it.
Discuss among yourselves.
McCloskey was director for Rick Perry's presidential campaign.