Pro-family groups are busy releasing their wish-lists for the next Congress. At the top of the heap is a proposal to build on the $500 per child tax credit. The new goal is a $1500 per child tax credit. The idea behind this tax credit is sound. When the personal income tax was first established, the government recognized that it costs money to raise good, productive citizens. In 1948, the personal exemption was created to shield average families from paying this tax while raising children.
Unfortunately, the personal exemption was not adjusted for inflation. As each year passed, more and more of the tax burden was shifted onto the backs of families. Experience has shown that the more you tax something the less you get of it and the more you reward something the more you get of it.
Fifty years ago, illegitimacy was not the problem because the idea of paying women to have children out of wedlock was unthinkable. Today one out of every three babies born in this country is born to a single mother. Children raised in single parent homes have many more problems than children raised by intact families. They have more trouble in school and make lower grades. They are more likely to smoke, use drugs, get pregnant, be arrested and wind up in jail. Therefore, we need to rethink the idea of simply rewarding childbirth. We don’t need more children in this country. We need more children from intact families.
However, marriage not only benefits children. It benefits everyone. A single woman with children is more likely to be living below the poverty threshold and be a burden to society than a married woman. Single men make less money than do married men, are more likely to get in trouble with the law, live on the street and be incarcerated.
Dr. Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute has come up a better agenda for the family. Let’s reward those who marry and stay married. Building on Dr. Cameron’s idea, why not keep the $500 per child tax credit, but raise it to $750 for children raised by a married couple and double it to $1,500 for children raised in an intact family or children who are adopted by an intact family.
Let couples who marry and stay married reap the benefits. Abolish the marriage penalty and reward couples for staying together. Let a married couple deduct 1 percent from their income tax bill and increase the deduction slightly for every year thereafter.
It will take legislators with courage to pass this agenda. You can expect a loud outcry from the welfare establishment which has flourished under this present environment. After all, the more intact marriages, the less you need social workers, psychologists, prison guards, etc.
However, you can’t argue with the logic. It makes sense: common sense and dollars and cents.