President Biden wants to drastically expand the government’s role in child care (and everything else!).
Republicans have flinched from the massive expenditures Biden is proposing to inject more government into child care. But the price tag isn’t the biggest reason to reject Biden’s day care proposals.
J.D. Vance, investor and author of Hillbilly Elegy, and Jenet Erickson of the Wheatley Institution argue in this morning’s Wall Street Journal that Biden’s plan would be a disaster for children. Vance and Erickson take a look at Canada’s foray into a day system quite similar to the one being put forward by the Biden administration. They note:
In 1997 the provincial government of Quebec began offering child care for 5 Canadian dollars a day to all families, regardless of income. Almost two decades later, economists Michael Baker, Kevin Milligan and Jonathan Gruber found that children from two-parent families who participated showed significant increases in anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity. Those effects persisted—and even grew—as they reached young adulthood. Self-reported health and life satisfaction decreased significantly. Boys who participated were more likely to commit crimes. It was, to put it bluntly, a disaster for Quebec’s children.
Supporters of the Biden proposals say that the government in the U.S. would simply do a better job than the Canadian government. This raises several questions: On what planet do these supporters dwell? Have they led such charmed lives that they have never dealt with the government?
As a matter of fact, many advocates of plans such as the one the President is putting forward have led charmed lives—they are members of the elite. They are the ones most likely to give lip service to the $10 billion Head Start program, but will never know first-hand about the government’s inability to provide first-rate care for Head Start children.
The Biden day care plan reflects the values of the elite:
Not surprisingly, data from a recent YouGov/American Compass survey show that upper-class Americans are most likely to prefer a work-family model in which two earners rely on child care. Poor, working-class and middle-class survey respondents prefer a model with one parent working full-time and the other providing at-home child care.
Many families put their kids into child care because they have to, but the clear majority of Americans say they want to spend more time with their kids. Those preferences aren’t misguided. In fact, the highest quality standards for child care promote exactly what happens in the average home—one adult in an active, stable and encouraging relationship with two to three children. This standard is difficult to duplicate in institutional settings, especially on a large scale. Public policy should reflect what most parents want instead of doubling down on the model preferred by American elites.
There is nothing wrong if a family makes a choice that requires both parents to bring in an income. But to have government skewing options towards the elite couple’s values is wrong. All families must have the option of choice.
Fortunately, as Vance and Erickson show, there are promising alternatives to what the President proposes:
Several current policy proposals would [offer alternatives]. Sen. Josh Hawley has proposed a refundable “parent credit,” paid monthly, that would give parents the flexibility to choose the best path for their families. Parents could use the credit for child care if they wished, though evidence suggests many would use it instead to scale back paid employment outside the home, at least while their children are young. Sens. Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio have offered similarly family-focused proposals in recent months. While these policies must be debated on their merits, they all reflect a shared view: How parents want to raise their own children should drive policy, not the values of an increasingly isolated American ruling class.
A certain philosophical irony is at work here. The American left—self-righteous defenders of the worker—has landed on a policy preference fitting perfectly with its elite social status, yet serving the needs of employers at the expense of American families. A family policy that empowers parents with greater choice may reduce national GDP. It might mean lower profits for some of our biggest corporations. But it would also mean happier parents and healthier children—which seems a trade-off worth making.
Read the entire article.