Time seems to have stood still over the past 50 years, with the same type of advocates beseeching common sense, and the same conservative complaints being registered about the size and scope of government. Perhaps no issue best underscores that tug and pull in policy creation than the one regarding subsidized child care. The social cost of letting this policy languish for decades is obvious to see, especially after this pandemic.
President Biden is pushing forward with his idea for subsidized child care for low-and-middle-income families and if one were not aware of the years President Nixon was in office, you might think what is unfolding is new. As a Nixon history buff, I can assure you what Republicans are now doing is straight out of the 1971 playbook. That is a sad statement.
Pat Buchanan, a speechwriter, and advisor to Nixon, requested from the White House that he be given the green light to write not only the veto message to the then-named Child Development Act, (pushed by Senator Walter Mondale) but be given latitude to lacerate the entire bipartisan idea.
The goal of the legislation would have created a national network of subsidized child-care centers. Buchanan wanted to have room so to bolster and unite the right-wing who were nervous that Nixon was not conservative enough. Buchanan was given his license and the result was devastating. Partisan politics vs. sound public policy.
I use two examples from Buchanan’s book Nixon’s White House Wars (on my bookshelves) to make this point.
The same battle lines have been drawn again as Biden pushes for needed changes, as reflected in many surveys and polls around the nation. While some will argue about the role of government, I instead, as with many of these issues when it deals with children, view the positive impact upon their lives.
We are aware that many homes with children lack the types of intellectual stimulation that readies a child to be prepared for school and future learning. That is not a knock on any socio-economic group, but rather a general and true statement about many parents today.
Developing such programming would be money well spent so to have children getting the educational care they need now, as we well-know the cost of lost years when it comes to education. In addition, the programming allows for parents to work, and thereby create homes where a child can grow and be comforted in.
Over the past year, we all have witnessed how the pandemic underscored the role and importance of child care for working parents, particularly mothers. The other story that has bounded about in newspaper stories nationwide concerns the real lack of child care options in the private marketplace. Since the marketplace can not meet that social need, the government must be allowed to operate with that programming.
I have always felt blessed with the family life from which I came, which included being read to a lot, always having books about, and the stimulations of radio and newspapers in the home. I wish everyone could have such a start in life. But that can not be. It is, therefore, one reason I strongly support such policy goals for other children as pushed by Biden. Every child deserves to thrive with new ideas.