If social scientists agree on anything, it’s that strong families are a key to success in many of the most important aspects of life. Strong families make an enormous difference in building communities and solving problems like drug addiction, crime, and keeping children in school. In fact, research shows that for Americans born into poverty, three simple steps make it more likely than not that they will join the middle class:
1) graduate from high school,
2) get a job, and
3) after age 21, get married and have children.
This clear path to success suggests that encouraging and supporting strong families should be a central focus of social policy. This week, Donald Trump gave an important speech with a plan to do just that by making child care more affordable--both for working parents and for those who choose to do the hard work of raising their kids at home.
The plan, which reflects especially the advice and contributions of Ivanka Trump and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (both mothers of young children), would be a significant help to mothers and families struggling with the high costs of child care.
The plan’s most important provision is based on a simple conservative principle: letting Americans keep more of the money they’ve earned. Our tax code gives deductions for health expenses, home mortgages, charitable gifts, green energy expenditures and many other things. Trump’s plan would include child care in that list, giving families a tax deduction for the average cost of child care in their state. That would be significant relief for millions of Americans, since as Trump pointed out in his speech, for many working and middle class families this is their highest monthly expense.
In addition, the Trump plan offers help to the poorest working Americans afford child care through an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. As he explained, “Working parents can get an expanded EITC benefit that equals up to half of their total payroll tax – a major relief for low-income parents. This translates to as much as an extra $1,200 dollars in EITC benefits for working families.”
In the modern world, caring for family members often means helping take care of older Americans as well. For this reason, the Trump plan offers a tax deduction of up to $5,000 a year for elder care in addition to child care, to benefit those families who have adult dependents.
Notice how different Trump’s plan is from the social proposals of Hillary Clinton and her left-wing allies, who want to use child care as an excuse to create a new, government-run bureaucracy that can be unionized and controlled by bureaucrats. The left’s approach is virtually the opposite of a plan based on letting Americans keep more of the money they’ve earned, to spend on their families as they see their needs.
A few conservatives have expressed concern that Donald Trump’s plan to actually help families, children and mothers who work in the home is somehow not conservative enough, even though it is based primarily on reducing working families’ tax bills. In fact, however, the Trump child care plan, along with the tax reform plan he outlined Thursday, are both firmly within the conservative tradition of pro-growth, pro-family policies that help make life easier for hard-working Americans.
In addition, the plan would be paid for in part by bringing to government the techniques businesses use routinely to detect, stop and recapture fraudulent payments. Our government currently pays many tens of billions of dollars each year to crooks who abuse Medicaid, Medicare, unemployment, false tax refund, and dozens of other programs.
Under a Trump administration, a competent government focused on fraud could save well over $100 billion a year--and instead of paying crooks, we could offer relief to working families.
The Trump child care plan is worth reading and sharing with the working parents in your life. You can learn more about the plan here.
Newt Gingrich is a former Speaker of the House. See his website here.