Tonight President Clinton will give his State of the Union address—and he’ll be giving it at a time when most Americans are thinking and talking of little else except the latest personal crisis the president is involved in.
But while we should all be praying for both the president and our country, we should also be paying close attention to what the president proposes in his address. And one of the things he’s expected to unveil is a plan to subsidize day care with federal tax dollars.
The White House has revealed that the president wants to increase day-care funding by billions of dollars. This money is to be spent on things like increasing the number of day-care centers and providing tax credits for parents who wish to use them.
Clinton’s plan is being promoted as a way to help working parents, especially low-income parents. But if Clinton really wants to help parents, he ought to listen to what parents say they want—and that’s not government-run day-care centers.
COMMERCIAL DAY CARE
A newly released poll commissioned by the Family Research Council asked Americans to rate nine day-care options. The option of a child being cared for by his own mother came out on top. Care by other family members, friends, or a nanny were next. Care by a government-run center came out at the bottom.
Parents may know something government bureaucrats don’t: Full-time care at day-care centers isn’t good for kids.
In a searing National Review article, Maggie Gallagher describes an emerging body of research showing that commercial daycare can actually harm children. Children in full-time day care “are less likely to be firmly attached to their parents and are on average more disobedient toward adults and more aggressive toward their peers than children cared for primarily by their parents,” Gallagher writes.
Daycare can also be bad for children’s health: Gallagher quoted several studies showing that children who attend daycare suffer more illnesses than children cared for at home—illnesses, Gallagher notes, that “can have long-lasting consequences.”
So if parents don’t want government-run day care, and day-care centers aren’t good for children, why is our poll-conscious president supporting them?
It’s part and parcel of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village” view of the state which holds that social problems can and should be addressed by the government in a one-size-fits-all solution.
Now, some parents could indeed use some assistance. But why should only commercial institutions receive government money? Why not give subsidies to family members who care for kids, or to church-run day-care centers. Why not tax credits for stay-at-home mothers?
Edmund Burke taught that institutions such as the church and the family are the front lines for developing character and virtue—and no one else can do it better. But the Clinton plan would discriminate against the types of child-care arrangements Americans want and need most.
As this debate begins to heat up, we need to let our legislators know that government funding of day-care centers is not the answer. Instead, we need tax policies that will help parents themselves do what parents do best. That is, to “raise up a child in the way he should go.”