February 20, 2019
If you liked government health care, you'll love government day care. That's what Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is counting on with a new proposal sure to terrify any American who lived through the last Democrat takeover. Don't worry, Warren says. It'll be free. And, let me guess -- if we like our babysitter, we can keep her?
"In the wealthiest country on the planet, access to affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right, not a privilege reserved for the rich," Warren argued on Tuesday. And who better to solve that problem -- or any problem for that matter -- than government? "My plan will guarantee high-quality child care and early education for every child in America from birth to school age," the 2020 hopeful explained. And, like everything else in socialist fantasy land, it'll be "free" for lower-income families and "affordable" (where have we heard that before?) for everyone.
If it sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. First of all, it's not free. The price tag for this "complimentary" daycare-for-everyone idea is a whopping $700 billion over 10 years. That's hardly gratis -- especially for the Americans she plans to tax to pay for it. As far as Warren's concerned, we can stick the country's "ultra-millionaires" with this tab, along with everything else on the Democrats' wish list. As usual, the Left's formula for paying for their bad ideas is taking from those who have. They want to penalize Americans who are successful, instead of making it easier -- though tax incentives and other means -- for families to choose their own care.
The other problem -- and it's a big one -- can be summed up in four words: "Similar to Head Start..." That's how Warren and others are characterizing her program, since the federal government would set the rules and options for families who participate. But for anyone familiar with the 50-year failure of Head Start, that's a huge red flag. Under Barack Obama, even HHS admitted that the after 48 years and 180 billion taxpayer dollars, the early education program offered "little" or "no" benefits for children. In fact, in some instances, Head Start even had harmful effects. Why would anyone want to expand an idea that wasn't just a failure by Washington's standards -- but by children's?
If Democrats like Warren truly believed that policies should be driven by "what works," then it's time to look beyond the government to real solutions -- like parental choice. Ideas like this don't work -- not because parents are too involved, but because politicians are. As NRO's Carrie Lukas points out, the Left is too busy imposing its own views on America to take families' opinions into account. If they did, they'd see that they would be heavily subsidizing "parents' least favorite care option -- day care -- while doing nothing to make all the others more affordable."
Even Senator Warren didn't put her own kids in day care. She flew in Aunt Bee! Yet her plan "assumes that most Americans want their children to attend day-care centers, when in fact, most parents would prefer to be able to care for their children themselves or rely on family-based care or the closest approximation to it. It also assumes that quality child-care centers are associated with positive educational and life outcomes for children. As Steven Rhoads and I detailed in a piece for National Affairs, much research points in the opposite direction."
What's worse, this proposal leads to what most parents are fighting to stop: more government indoctrination of children. Don't think for a second that Democrats are going to give you the money to send your child to the day care of your choice. It'll be a government-approved facility that meets certain standards that bureaucrats set -- meaning, under extremists like Warren, it will probably exclude churches and other religious centers. The Democrats' motivation isn't lightening the load on families or making it easier for parents to work. It's getting kids into the government pipeline earlier and earlier. The best and safest place for a child is with their parents. If you look at the curriculum in today's schools, it runs completely counter to what moms and dads are teaching their kids at home -- especially on the issue of human sexuality. That's the model Democrats would be expanding here.
We want to break the government's grip on our children. That's why we need parental choice -- not just in day care, but in everything.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.