Universal child care: Is it what parents want?
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a plan for “bringing down the absurd cost of child care,” said Jordan Weissmann in Slate.com. Last week, the Democratic presidential candidate outlined a universal system that would ensure all American children up to age 5 could enroll in day care at a cost of no more than 7 percent of their family’s income. Families of four earning $50,000 or less could enroll their kids for free. Congress would distribute grants to help providers lower prices, meet new quality standards, and raise workers’ wages. As it stands, years of child care “can rival the cost of college tuition.” Correcting that would have “immediate economic benefits,” said Paul Krugman in The New York Times, allowing millions of mothers to stay in the workforce. A projected annual cost of $70 billion, financed by a tax on the super-wealthy, isn’t “chicken feed,” but Warren’s proposal is far more affordable and realistic than “Medicare for all.” It “could actually happen in the near future.”
Do you realize “the ‘nanny state’ is a pejorative term?” asked Heather Wilhelm in NationalReview.com. Warren’s pitch for “socialized child care” is remarkably ignorant of what most mothers actually want. They aren’t yearning for a “sprawling new government-run bureaucracy dedicated to warehousing children” so they can work long hours out of the home. Instead, give parents a tax credit so they can keep more of their own money and care for their kids themselves. For many families, said Meghan Kruger in WashingtonPost.com, “the biggest challenge is not funding care but finding it.” Warren’s plan is more likely to “exacerbate” that problem, expanding access to an estimated 12 million kids—nearly double the current enrollment. Creating far more demand could push day care prices up and worsen shortages of open slots.
Warren’s plan actually addresses this issue, by dangling a big “pot of money” in front of communities and nonprofits that wish to set up new care centers, said Bryce Covert in NewRepublic.com. It’s important to note her plan is actually based on legislation Congress passed in 1971 with Republican support, partly because it “delegated responsibility” for setting up day care centers to local communities. President Nixon vetoed it, calling it “a strike against the traditional family.” A federal day care program remained “politically off-limits for decades.” Warren’s proposal is the “clearest sign” yet that we’re entering a new era.