Romney Gets One Right

Okay, okay—before you start pelting me with the citrus fruit of your choice, let me make it clear:  I have no love for Mitt Romney.  I think he’s a traitorous, chimerical liar whose positions bend and twist with the ever-changing fashions of the Left.  He strikes me as a coward and opportunist, who will gladly slit his own party’s throat for a farthing of accolades from Democrats and the progressive press.

All that said, I’m intellectually honest enough to give credit where it is due, and even a stopped Mormon is right twice a day.  Mitt Romney has proposed a bill (forgive me for linking to the Never Trumpers at The Dispatch) that he argues is intended to alleviate childhood poverty, but is really a pro-natalist plan:  direct payments of $350 for children five and under, and $250 a month for children six through seventeen, with a maximum annual benefit of $15,000 annually, and payments beginning four months before a child’s birth.

Naturally, the local interest isn’t hard to see here for Pierre Delecto:  he represents Utah, a State dominated by fecund Mormons.  His plan would dump a lot of federal dollars into his State, and likely the coffers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

But the convenient intersection of political payoff with pro-natalism doesn’t invalidate the latter.  Raising a family, as any parent will tell you, is quite expensive.  My younger brother and his wife, for example, would immediately get $1050 a month under this plan (falling to $950 later this year when my niece turns six).  There’s a lot they could do with another $12,600 a year that would benefit their children and their community.

There are downsides, of course:  it seems that out-of-wedlock children would count towards the total (though i need to confirm this speculation).  Those families probably need the money far more than a stable two-parent household like my brother’s, but I don’t relish the idea of further incentivizing single-parent households.  The plan does phase out at $200,000 a year for single filers, but that’s not going to be the bulk of single-parent households (the phaseout is $400,000 for joint filers).

Nevertheless, should the Family Security Act pass, it would be transformative for families and family formation across the country—and birthrates.  Just as Hungary has enjoyed immense success with its direct payments to parents, the United States could truly benefit from such a plan—especially more rural parts of the country, where injections of cash would revitalize local economies.

As a conservative—and a fiscal one, at that—I do worry about excessive government spending (Romney’s plan claims to be revenue-neutral).  But if we’re going to have overburdened welfare programs anyway, why not have one that is simple and directly benefits families of all stripes?  I’d love to see this program replace the myriad other, overlapping, even conflicting plans that are out there, but this one is elegant in its simplicity, and the experience of Hungary shows us it works.

If Romney could pull this off, he may begin to redeem himself.  It will certainly be the one positive achievement from a long career of dishonesty and equivocation.  But what an achievement it would be.

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13 thoughts on “Romney Gets One Right

  1. How about we don’t make babies until we can afford them? That’s what my parents did; it’s what your parents did. In modern America, there’s absolutely no reason a woman should get pregnant unless she wants to. The government didn’t support my children – they had two parents who worked whatever was needed to support them. It’s an idiotic idea. I don’t have new cars because I can’t afford them; I don’t have fancy finger nails or the top of the line cell phone because I don’t need them. People need to re-assess the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’. Don’t have babies if you can’t afford them.

    Laughing – not ‘killing the messenger’, lol – just reacting to the proposed bill.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, no worries at all! I tend to agree that people should wait until they have children; however, I think the issue is that having children has grown quite expensive. I do think the government has a vested interest in encouraging family formation and growth, so supporting child-rearing is one of the rare areas where I think the government is justified in pumping some cash into the economy. It’s worked in Hungary, which has seen steadily rising birthrates, and rural areas flourish with the influx of cash.

      Naturally, it has to be paid for somehow, but our federal government is already spending money like a leaky pipe, so if they’re going to anyway, they might as well spend it on something worthwhile.

      I do share an implied concern of yours: I don’t like that it would go to unwed mothers, etc. I think any natalist policy should explicitly benefit intact nuclear families, rather than subsidizing out-of-wedlock births. Those are the people that I imagine you’re concerned about, and I share that concern. However, I don’t think politically that would fly. Ideally, yes, we’d be giving money to married couples.

      Of course, there are always unintended consequences: instead of women divorcing their husbands to take advantage of welfare benefits for single mothers, you’d have women staying in bad or abusive marriages because of the money coming in. I imagine, though, that those would be outliers. And, hey, you know as a married woman that you just have to work out things with your husband. Tossing in a few grand to sweeten the deal probably makes fights over how many pillows are on the guest bed more endurable for both parties.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t really have all that much problem with the idea, other than what Audre said, and that it will reduce self-reliance, which is a key American trait. That it will also rewards single parenthood needs to be addressed also – perhaps a case of unintended consequences but one that is easily evident, and in a country that can trace many of its social problems to single parenthood, not one to be countenanced.

    But the real problem here is layering on top of all the other things that pass as welfare, but welfare mostly for uncivil serpents. What does the bill kill to find its funding? If nothing, then no. If the government were, for example, to get the dickens out of health care, it would immediately lower the cost of raising children, similarly, if we killed the golden goose of public indoctrination (education), taxes could return to a reasonable rate that would allow the government, local, state, and federal, to do the things that should be done by government, instead of wasting our tax money on things that it has not, and can not, do as well as others can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree all around, Neo. I would say that for me this bill is an example of “going deeper into the abyss in order to escape it”: ladling on another government program in the hopes of creating more stable families and a return on the “investment” of children.

      The single motherhood recipients is my major concern, too. As for cost, Romney claims the bill is revenue-neutral, but who knows how true that is given the government’s accounting tricks.

      I am fully in favor of eliminating the federal Department of Education in its entirety, then devolving those responsibilities back to States and local school districts. That would end federal indoctrination in a hurry.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed, the single thing that would do the most to improve education, make it local again, and then we should be able to make them listen to us – well, some of us, some places. And that is an improvement.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amen. I’ve only attended one Council meeting so far, but I’m already learning how much federal agencies (I’m thinking of the EPA in particular) screw us over. The irony is they slap these various restrictions on us (via the SCDHEC), which then allow us to qualify for federal grants to pay for the things they want fixed! Couldn’t you just cut out the middleman and give us the cash? Or, better yet, leave us alone! Of course, there’s a lot of money in it for the middlemen and -women, so the beast slouches on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. There are a number of jobs the system creates to coddle over-educated mediocrities (I would consider myself part of those ranks—the over-educated mediocrities—but I’ve found a niche where I think I can provide something of value to my students), without whom we’d be facing a large group of comfortable bureaucrats facing the prospect of doing REAL work, instead of merely writing and rewriting and enforcing various rules and regulations dreamed up in their cozy cubicles.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That was not (and there will be one) of teachers, actual teachers, teaching children what they need, including critical thinking, and music falls into that realm.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, dude. I will say, as corny as it sounds, I have really been blessed—God has used me (I think) and my love of music to enrich the live of my students, and I am so thrilled about it. I love hearing from former students who are still playing, forming bands, writing songs, booking gigs, etc. It’s incredibly satisfying, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to do what I do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Somehow the never in the parenthetical clause got lost, but you knew that.

        It would be quite unseemly of me to criticize music teachers, since I and my sisters all played in the band and sang in the chorus. I fact, amongst my uncles, about have worked for power companies, the rest directed high school bands and choirs. My Grandfather directed the town band and ran the light plant. In fact, my great grandfather first came to America on a tour with his Norwegian band and decided he liked the joint. And that ignores the legend that one ancestors was the director of one of Gustavus Augustus’s military bands.

        Like

  3. The last apartment complex we lived in – the immigrants had children and the Americans had dogs.

    Sadly, there were zero exceptions to this.

    I can’t stand Romney but what’s the saying about the broken clock?

    Liked by 1 person

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