November 20, 2007

Helping Stay-at-Home Moms

In a letter to the editor published Sunday in The Oklahoman, Sallie Jones of Del City wrote:
I don't understand Greg Clift (Your Views, Nov. 14) or Brandon Dutcher (Opinion, Nov. 12). State funding for stay-at-home parents? Clift and Dutcher should remember that the state has no money of its own. The only dollars available are from taxpayers and we're overburdened. I'm sure every family would like to have a parent stay home with the kids, but I can't afford to pay more taxes for such a "sounds good on paper" plan.
Jones is absolutely correct that the state has no money of its own, only that money which it extracts from (already overburdened) taxpayers. But I think she misunderstands my recommendation, namely, that "state subsidies and credits for daycare should also be available to parents who care for their preschoolers full time, at home. A tax credit for this purpose should be refundable to those parents without the income to claim the full credit, allowing for a reduction in means-tested government daycare subsidies" [emphasis added].

Notice that I'm not suggesting higher taxes or increased government spending (may it never be!). I'm simply suggesting a trade-off: give the tax credit to stay-at-home parents, and pay for the tax credit (so to speak) with a reduction in government daycare subsidies.