Joe Biden ran for president pledging to reunite our divided nation. His agenda is stalled in Congress because it violates that pledge. Biden’s $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan” has even failed to unite lawmakers in his own party.
One reason is that the plan’s debt-financed spending priorities — taxpayer subsidies for child care, higher education, and welfare — have nothing to do with the inflation, supply-chain breakdowns, and COVID restrictions that are racking our economy. Biden’s plan would exacerbate all three.
But even worse is the Democrats’ blindness — or indifference — to the damage policies like these have done to their ostensible beneficiaries for decades. The low-income workers, the single moms, the underprivileged children elevated in progressive rhetoric are invariably subjugated by progressive policies. The welfare programs that succeed encourage work and family stability that lead to self-sufficiency. But Biden’s plan is written as if the top-down, elite-directed policies of the 1960s and 1970s didn’t lead to intergenerational dependence, fatherlessness, isolation, and poverty.
Government cannot replace the social capital generated by intact families of married parents living in tight-knit communities — or even the financial capital that such families can build up over time. On the contrary, government usually discourages it. Even today, with all we know about the irreplaceable importance of marriage and family cohesion to vulnerable children, federal welfare programs still reward non-work and actively penalize marriage. These flawed programs trap lower-income families in unstable homes, dangerous neighborhoods, and failing schools.
Biden’s American Families Plan would double down on this paternalistic folly, hoping that a few new entitlement programs will fix the problems caused by the old ones.
His plan to subsidize commercial child care (but not home- or faith-based care that the overwhelming majority of parents use) reflects the worst of liberal hubris and interest-group cronyism. It would penalize stay-at-home moms, inflate the price of child care, and worsen children’s prospects — all to put the thumb on the scale of a lifestyle most lower-income mothers don’t want.
Biden’s $109 billion proposal to make community college “free” and billions for teacher training are similarly inapt. Most community college students already pay no tuition. And no training program will change the fact that politicized teachers unions and school boards are more interested in indoctrinating students in woke ideology than teaching them the knowledge, skills, and habits they need to succeed.
What underprivileged families need are safe streets, child-centered schools with parents in charge, flexible welfare programs that reward work and marriage, and a healthy economy that fosters good jobs and rising wages. Giving trillions of dollars to the elite interest groups who have given us “defund the police,” anti-science school shutdowns, and record inflation would only return us more of the same.