Hey, Joe Biden and Democrats, leave our kids and child care alone

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Uncle Sam was once a reference to the strength and might of the American military, an undeniable force existing to defend and protect its citizens and their interests at home and abroad.  

In recent years, the American system of self-governance has shifted to an all-powerful watchdog that seeks to control every aspect of its people’s lives. But it may have just taken its most egregious overstep: a federal power grab to control child care.  

If the outrage over public school curriculums in Loudoun County, Virginia, has taught us anything, it is that parents should reign supreme in educating and caring for children. The Supreme Court has acknowledged the important role parents have, since 1925, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, where the court specified that parents have the right to make education decisions for their children. 

Unfortunately, bloated egos in Washington, D.C., are not getting the message. Moms and dads across the nation are fed up with the radical Democrats and the Biden administration’s drive to impose a nanny state that overhauls the role of the family.  

The $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act, otherwise known as reconciliation, places government where it has always wanted to be: at the head of every household in America. This behemoth piece of legislation would devote approximately $400 billion for taxpayer-funded and federally controlled child care and pre-K, as government aims to control our lives with every string attached.  

The universal preschool proposal saddles grant recipients with a series of costly regulations that, in turn, drive up prices for middle-class families. These include mandatory minimum wages and college degree requirements for staff, both financially devastating for an industry so burdened by regulations that it struggles for profitability.  

Unable to compete, private providers will be forced out of the marketplace, leaving parents with fewer options. What options will survive under these conditions? Extremely expensive ones for the very rich, and, you guessed it – the federally funded and controlled ones for the hurting middle class.  

Furthermore, proposed program eligibility requirements include “nondiscrimination provisions” in hiring and admissions that would force faith-based centers to abandon sincerely held beliefs or close their doors entirely.  

The bottom line is that a one-size-fits-all solution from the halls of Washington never leaves Americans better off. 

Religious organizations are vital to the child care industry. In a national poll conducted in December 2020, it was found that 31% of working-parent households used center-based care, and over half, or 53%, of these families, used one that was affiliated with a faith organization. The absence of these organizations would result in crippling shortages across the country.  

Our first, and arguably most important, societal safety net is the family. Next comes churches, communities and civil institutions. Government should be dead last. The Build Back Better Act eclipses the family, churches and communities, leaving us all beholden to big government. Make no mistake. Federal bureaucrats will surely claim the right to approve curricula, performance standards, and more – all decisions best left in the hands of parents and local communities.  

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Adding insult to injury, while the federal government pledges to cover the universal preschool program’s price tag for the first three years, the over $18 billion in annual operating costs will shift to the states’ shoulders over time. The federal-state share adjusts to 90-10, 75-25, and 60-40 in each subsequent year. Another unfunded mandate in disguise as we claw our way back from the economic perils of the pandemic.  

If policymakers truly want to move the needle on child care, they should step aside and give parents the resources to make the decisions that are best suited to the needs of their children and families. A few fixes come to mind.  

Let the money follow the child. Give parents the flexibility to use existing child care subsidies with the provider of their choice. Reduce the tax burden so families can devote more of their hard-earned paychecks to desired child care arrangements.  

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The bottom line is that a one-size-fits-all solution from the halls of Washington never leaves Americans better off. Applying this to something as integral and personal as the education of our nation’s children is as offensive as it is naïve.  

American parents are best suited to make these decisions for their children and big government should empower them and get out of their way. 

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