Yippee — just what we want, more federal government intrusion into our lives. Nancy Pelosi is no longer Speaker of the House, but she’s confident she will be again soon. Since she’s been “out of power,” she’s hit the fundraisers like the average 21-year-old hits the bars, attending 311 nationwide, drawing in $26 million for Democrats. Her short-term goal: To take back the 25 House seats necessary to regain her place as a part of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi axis of power.
Just to think we might again have to call Princess Pelosi “Madame Speaker” is unpleasant enough. But contemplate her long-term goal and the short-term goal looks even more sour. Pelosi told The Washington Post that at the top of her to-do list as the reinstated Speaker would be “doing for childcare what we did for healthcare reform.” She explained further:
“I could never get a babysitter — have five kids in six years and no one wants to come to your house. … And everywhere I go, women say the same thing” about how hard it is to find the kind of reliable care that would make their family lives calmer and work lives more productive. When it comes to “unleashing women” in a way that would boost the economy, she says, “this is a missing link.”
First, let’s talk about this as a follow-up to Obamacare. Has Pelosi paid no attention to the polls that show people are anything but pleased with a fourth entitlement program that offers them less control over their own health care? Just this week, Gallup released a poll that showed a plurality of Americans want the law completely repealed. Of late, even Democrats have soured on the law. Just 34 percent of Americans actually approve of the law, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Why, at a time when Americans react to government overreach with bitter disapproval, would Pelosi baldly bid for still more control? If I were a prog, I’d be hoping Pelosi would hush up. She’s giving it away too clearly: Progressives really do want a nanny state — literally.
Secondly, let’s talk about childcare for a minute. While I pity Pelosi’s plight to be burdened with so many children (not), I pity the plight of her children more. No, not because they were born to her (how mean would that be to say?!), but because they had to have a babysitter in the first place. Obviously, in many circumstances, that’s unavoidable, and I’m not criticizing parents who find themselves in a bind and do what it takes to make it work. But, in general, I’d argue couples should consider carefully whether one or the other of them would be able — and willing — to provide at-home child care before they have a kid in the first place. Why? Simple: Studies show that children who spend longer hours (30 hours/week) in daycare are more likely to exhibit problematic social behaviors including aggression, conflict, poorer work habits and risk-taking behaviors.
Anecdotally, the most common argument I’ve heard against stay-at-home parenthood is, quite simply, a lack of money. But I’d humbly submit that, beyond the three basics (food, shelter and clothing), children will benefit far more from the presence of a parent at home than from a few more material goodies. Also, consider the costs of daycare itself: The loss of a second income is at least partially offset by what a couple will save by not having to pay for childcare. The average cost of center-based daycare in the United States is $11,666 per year or $972 a month. That’s nothing to sneeze at. At the risk of trivializing the financial trials parents face (especially as I’m not a parent myself), I kinda can’t help but think, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Most likely, parents just simply don’t want to give up the careers they’ve cultivated for the sake of their children. But staying home with kids doesn’t mean giving up all meaningful contributions to the outside world. My friend Chad Kent, for example, stays at home with his twin sons while his wife, a doctor, works outside the home — but he’s also a public speaker and blogger who breaks open the Constitution for his listeners and readers in a fun and memorable way. Again, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Just takes a little creativity!
Creativity and flexibility that — you can bet — wouldn’t be baked into any federal childcare program. Beyond the manifold federalist arguments against a federal takeover of daycare, a federal program to provide childcare sends exactly the wrong message: That the childcare-center model makes sense and should be incentivized, when, in fact, the opposite is true. Kinda like welfare programs incentivize single parenthood, when, in fact, the single simplest step a single mother can take to raise her children out of poverty is to marry their father.
I wish I could breathe easy thinking this is just a pipe dream — but I’d have never guessed Obama-Reid-Pelosi would manage to ramrod Obamcare through Congress, either. Never too early to be on guard.