The Nanny State

March 31, 1999

Although the president has said that "the era of big government is over," it's hard to believe that when you look at just what he has allocated for federal day care and child care. Each year we move closer to making the United States "the nanny state."

This year President Clinton proposed an $18 billion package of subsidies, tax credits, and other incentives to encourage more parents to leave their children in government funded day care. Last year the president proposed similar measures but the package failed because it didn't help parents who care for their children at home. So this year he included a tax credit for stay-at-home moms.

But before you get too excited, consider that only about 10% of the program budget would go to stay-at-home parents. The bulk of the program funds go to day care although only 11% of American preschool children even use it. Over 60% of preschoolers are cared for by their parents. In other words, the president wants to fund programs that are less used and less effective. Children raised by parents at home do better in a number of ways than kids put in day care centers. Even the most recent study that attempts to prove there is no difference between home-raised kids and day-care-raised kids actually proves this point if you read the fine print.

The president deserves one cheer for providing a tax credit for stay-at-home parents, but it is far too small to be very significant. His credit vanishes when the child turns one year old, but lasts until age 13 for families using day care. Also, the stay-at-home credit doesn't cover everyone. As family income rises, the tax credit decreases and disappears.

We don't need a "nanny state" in America that encourages day care. We need to encourage parents who stay at home.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.