As expected, President Obama plans to introduce a bunch of ideas for higher taxes and more spending in his State of the Union address. Given that the Congress is controlled by the Republicans, most of those proposals will not go anywhere – and Obama knows it. He is proposing them to to build the political narrative for the 2016 election that the Republicans are the “party of ‘no’.”
One of his proposals, however, is particularly troubling because of what it says and because it is something that appears innocuous enough that the Republicans might pass it as part of a deal for something else. Obama is proposing a $500 tax credit for families where both parents work.
It sounds nice enough. It is positioned as a way to help families with working parents afford child care and whatnot since both parents are working. But we used to advocate policies that made it easier for families to be able to afford for a parent to stay at home and raise their children. While not everyone can swing it, having a two-parent family where one parent can stay home with the children is substantially better for the children and the family than other circumstances. Not only does the family save a fortune in third-party child care, but the children are nurtured by the people who love them the most – their own parents.
But much like some welfare programs incent parents to not marry, this tax credit would incent both parents to work. Is that what we want our government policies to do? I don’t. I want government policies that make it easier for parents to afford to stay home and raise their own children. It’s better for the kids and better for society.
Nobody is going to choose to get a job who already isn’t for a $500 tax credit. Nor is a $500 credit going to make much of a difference in a family’s ability to afford child care. But this is another step to building a taxpayer-funded infrastructure that encourages every adult to work and let the “professionals” raise our kids.