Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Tuesday made a chilling argument against subsidizing child care for working parents: Looking after all those kids just isn’t society’s job.
“People decide to start a family and become parents; it’s something they have to consider when making that choice,” Johnson told the WKBT television channel during a visit to Kwik Trip headquarters in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
“I never really felt it was society’s responsibility to take care of other people’s children,” Johnson said.
Technically, other people’s children are part of society. Everyone knows the proverb that “it takes a whole village to raise a child”.
But Johnson’s point is that parents should take care of their own children, and he said society has a responsibility to provide job opportunities for parents.
Unfortunately, becoming a parent can make it difficult to get a job because childcare is often unaffordable, unavailable, or only available at times that don’t fit the employer’s schedule. At the national level, there are isn’t there enough child care for the preschool population. One result of these challenges is that children in the United States have higher poverty rates than other age groups and higher rates than children in other advanced countries.
Democrats had hoped to create a massive child care subsidy program under the Build Back Better Act, vowing that if passed, no working parent would have to pay more than 7% of their income for child care. The bill is currently stalled.
Other Republicans have proposed far more sophisticated complaints on the proposal than that of Johnson. Several have argued that the bill’s higher standards for providers would unfairly increase costs for parents whose income makes them ineligible for subsidies.
Johnson’s comment may have been awkward, but his view of the free market is hardly an exception among his peers in Congress, and his statement illustrates a stark difference between the parties on home economics.
Democrats have made reducing child poverty a central part of their platform. Last year they turned the child tax credit into a monthly cash program paying most American parents up to $300 per child from July to December, leading to a sharp drop in poverty children.
Republicans ignored poverty reduction and said the program simply exacerbates labor shortages by making parents less willing to work, calling it another part of the Democrats’ “socialist” program that decreases people’s freedom, including the freedom to be involuntarily poor.
As Johnson said in a tweet wednesday, “The left wants the government to run the family. I believe parents do.