Buroboi asks, and we deliver. This post is about government policy that could be used to help families in America. Lest we be accused of plagiarizing the ideas, let us say up front: we've read most if not all of these somewhere else. That said, we've been unable to locate exactly where we read everything first so as to give proper credit. We're pretty sure some of it came from the pens of Ramesh Ponnuru and Jim Manzi.
And again, our caveat: these policy ideas should not be confused for a complete solution. We reaffirm our general agreement with buroboi and Decker by saying that there needs to be a cultural sea change with respect to marriage. We maintain that, however difficult, a legal prong to our family pitchfork is necessary. If we can get Constitutional protection of marriage, we'll take it.
- Child Tax Credit: As it stands, families can receive up to $1000 per child in tax credit. This is limited by income and marital status. We would do two things: at least double the tax credit to $2000 and raise the limit from $110,000 to at least $200,000. Our goal, simply put, is to subsidize the production of children. If that sounds overly economic, so be it. We want to reduce the financial costs of bearing and raising children.
- Eliminate the marriage penalty: Because of our progressive tax scheme, married couples filing together often occasion higher taxes than if they were single, filing separately. Our goal should be to eliminate any financial incentive that encourages people to remain unmarried. At a minimum, we should create tax policy that is neutral with respect to marriage.
- Marriage Tax Credit: There are obvious rule of law problems with this one. Some people can't or won't get married and thus, will never qualify for this tax credit. But families are a net benefit to society and it is in society's and our government's interest to promote them. Some sort of tax credit for married couples would accomplish this.
- Family Insurance Tax Credit: Our final suggestion is part of John McCain's health insurance proposal. We've written about health care before, here & here. Currently, because government taxes wages, but not health care provided by employers, they are essentially subsidizing the HMO's everyone hates. This is also why wages haven't risen the way everyone thought they should: your wages are being paid out in increased health care costs.
John McCain and his team of policy experts have proposed, and we endorse, eliminating the tax exception on company health benefits and providing each individual and family a large tax credit so that they can purchase their own insurance independent of their employer. If we remember correctly, he proposed $5000 per couple.
We understand that rising health care costs put stress on families. We aren't unsympathetic to these problems. We just disagree with Obama and HillaryCare. To employ a little demagoguery, we don't want the DMZ administering universal health care.
Separating insurance from employment would give families greater choice, not only in selecting their insurance, but in picking a job. With no fear of losing insurance, working family members would be free to take the job for which they are best suited and best compensated--regardless of "benefits." This would reduce or eliminate one more family stressor.
- Conclusion: This is by no means a finished (or, as you can tell, polished) product. As Mark Steyn concluded in a column on the family last October:
In the space of 40 years, the middle class abolished “living in sin” and embraced “long-term partners,” and the working class stopped worrying about “broken homes” and accepted the sociological designation of “alternative families.” And reversing it will take a lot more than targeted tax breaks and entitlements: It’s the stupidity, economists.These policy recommendations are simply the easiest solutions to suggest and the easiest to quantify. There must be legal and cultural prongs to our American Gothic family pitchfork.
*UPDATE 4 April 12:13pm MST: For more on expanding the child tax credit, see this now-found article by Ramesh Ponnuru. Really, really good stuff.
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