- - Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Raising children has never been more challenging. Just ask the new mother who drops off her crying six-week-old infant at a child care center, drying her tears, because she can’t afford to stay home with her baby. Despite Hillary Clinton’s claims to vast experience in making policies that address competing needs of work and family, her scheme for helping Americans raise better families actually falls considerably short of Donald Trump’s plan to help families achieve a balance of work and child care. The Trump plan would help keep kids where they belong, with their parents.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center confirms that most Americans believe young children are better off when they are raised by a parent at home. The poll of more than 4,600 respondents finds that 59 percent think children should stay home with a parent if possible; only 39 percent say children do just as well when both parents work. But for many the dream of children playing in their own backyard is just that, a dream from the past. The Pew researchers find that in nearly half of those two-parent homes the kids are sent to the day care center because both parents must hold full-time jobs.

The participation of women in the work force has increased from 47 percent in 1975 to 70 percent now. Pursuing a career becomes as important for many women as for men. The necessity of a second income has shattered the hearth, and the dream of being the full-time guiding light for children has vanished.

Hillary Clinton’s solution is to turn over child-raising to “the village,” in her famous notion that she wrote a book about. Though 8 million 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool (once called kindergarten), she laments that only 1 in 4 can attend a publicly funded one. Naturally, the proliferation of government preschools mean higher taxes, and higher taxes mean more mothers and fathers forced to work longer hours to pay the bills while others raise their children. The price tag for Hillary’s child-care plans, which include an early childhood home-visiting program and government grants for college students with children, stands at $200 billion. She would pay for this by ensuring that the rich pay their “fair share.” These rich would presumably include the nouveau-riche Clintons, but we shouldn’t count on it.

Mr. Trump has proposed across-the-board tax cuts that would leave more money in workers’ pockets, making it easier for parents who prefer to stay at home with their young children. Parents who must work could deduct the child-care expenses of as many as four children from their federal income taxes. Poor families would be eligible for rebates through the Earned Income Tax Credit and all parents could pay into tax-free child-care savings accounts.

Hillary puts things backward, as she often does: Americans don’t want more government preschools where they can park their kids while they schlep to the office. They want a lighter tax burden so they can keep more of the money they’ve earned and can afford to raise their kids themselves. Ronald Reagan understood that “government is not the solution to our problem, the government is the problem.” Hillary may think “it takes a village to raise a child,” but most Americans still want to do it themselves as a labor of love.

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