Disclaimer: Yes, we are all aware of Trump’s opinions before running for President. Don’t get your undies in a bundle over the title. In this post we are going to give him the benefit of the doubt and discuss his proposals for the future.
Update 9/16: Trump has called for permanently banning taxpayer funding of abortions by seeking to make permanent the Hyde Amendment at the same time that his rival, along with her ‘Catholic’ running mate, are calling for a reversal of the amendment.
Donald Trump has made waves this week by unveiling two pro-family plans:
1) His maternity leave plan, guaranteeing six weeks of paid leave to mothers whose jobs don’t offer it.
2) His child care policy, which offers a tax deduction to families regardless of if one or two parents work and regardless of if the child is in day care or not.
Trump is clearly positioning himself as not only the ‘pro-woman’ candidate that Hillary Clinton is assumed to be, but also as the pro-family candidate. Hillary has touted her child care policy for months, telling women that she will fight for them and her policies reflect that, but with Trump’s recent (and specific) announcements, her sails are losing the wind she thought she could rely on.
The real estate mogul reacted quickly to Hillary’s child care policy announcement back when she unveiled it, saying that he too would offer a plan for mothers and families–there were no details at the time. It was assumed his plan would be similar to Hillary’s in that it offered a tax deduction for parents who both have to work and send their child to a child-care service. This was problematic for many family-oriented voters because while its goal is to help families financially, it also favors families putting their children in day care over families whose mother stays at home to care for children (quite an economic sacrifice for most families)–why should these parents (“you da real heros”) be ignored? Indeed day care helps many parents who are working hard to provide for their family, however day care can prove detrimental for children who spend a lot of time in it. When discussing Hillary’s childcare policy, W. Bradford Wilcox points out, “when young children, especially infants, spend lots of time in child care, it poses behavioral and social risks, even when they are being cared for in high-quality centers.” This is not ideal to the pro-family voter. Trading tax deductions for less-than-ideal child raising is the last thing our country, littered with broken marriages and shattered families, needs. No doubt, it is wonderful to relieve the economic burden on parents who rely on day care, but it’s even better to give all parents more resources to make decisions about what is truly best for the family they lead. Trump’s plan seems to do this.
Back when it was assumed Trump’s plan would be the same as HRC’s, the Catholic New York Times columnist Ross Douthat (I’ve been mentioning him a lot lately, haven’t I?) wrote a parody debate between the two candidates on the topic Make Family Policy Great Again. In the fictional dialog Hillary paints the picture that she doesn’t really care about families and Trump shows that he really has no detailed policy to follow through with. Trump changed Mr. Douthat’s mind with his recent policy announcement:
Trump and making your family great again
Uh oh, I hear undies getting in a bundle again. Many Republicans have trouble embracing the family policies the eccentric businessman and reality TV star has laid out–understandable. I agree that the free market should be the default arbitrator of work-related benefits and pay. However, the market is not perfect because the market is not God, as many ‘religious’ Republicans seem to believe.
There is a growing segment of conservative voters whose support [of Christian living and policy] is simply lip service inasmuch as Christianity fits into the parameters of their coveted political orthodoxy. So to say, these people appreciate the parts of Christianity that line up with their already-set political ideology rather than the other way around.
–The Saints’ Pub
“Did you just quote yourself?” Yes, I did. That’s how I roll. But it is also why I appreciate when Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence describes himself as a “Christian and Conservative, in that order”. As Catholics, it is our duty to consider the health of the family before all else. While it is too early for me to form a solid opinion on Trump’s maternity leave plan (again, by default we should assume the market can take care of this. It is possible this would incentivize companies to remove the paid-leave benefit knowing the government will offer the six weeks for free. At the same time, most companies offer more than six weeks already, meaning that they would still use the added maternity time as a benefit to remain attractive to good workers while the proposed government policy would simply be a safety net for women who have no other option. This, I think, is the flaw in the thinking of many liberals attacking the plan. They claim “six weeks is not nearly enough!” but if more were offered it would result in more companies dropping their policy, creating a bigger burden on the State.), I can stand in support of his child care plan. Quoting from the National Review:
“Mr. Trump’s plan will ensure stay-at-home parents will receive the same tax deduction as working parents, offering compensation for the job they’re already doing, and allowing them to choose the child care scenario that’s in their best interest.”
…every family, whether or not in day care, gets a tax deduction worth the average cost of child care in its state. (Well, every married couple that makes less than $500,000 a year, that is; and only the first four children in a family would get the deduction.) If that’s right, Trump’s plan does not favor two-earner couples who use day care over one-earner couples that keep the children at home, as some child-care proposals–including those of Hillary Clinton–do. In effect, he concludes, Trump has increased the dependent exemption from $4,000 per child to roughly $16,000 per child.
…if Trump’s proposal is what Ellis takes it to be, then it would be a significant improvement in the tax structure, which currently places too high a share of the tax burden on parents and especially on parents of large families.
Families (not individuals) need fewer obstacles to having children and this child care policy goes in the right direction. Is it a sort of entitlement? I suppose. However it’s goal is to strengthen families rather than work against the family unit, the most fundamental cell of society. A strong family is, after all, in the best interest not only of communities large and small, but also of the State as a stable family helps ensure strong, happy, healthy, and self-sufficient citizens.
Now a State chiefly prospers and thrives through moral rule, well-regulated family life, respect for religion and justice, the moderation and fair imposing of public taxes, the progress of the arts and of trade, the abundant yield of the land-through everything, in fact, which makes the citizens better and happier.
-Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum 32
This plan also is only a benefit to families who have at least one person employed meaning it is money going to someone who is already contributing to the tax base–this is almost unheard of when it comes to entitlements today.
Why believe Trump is serious about this
I know, it’s hard. Trump has changed his position many times on important issues in the past and sometimes seems like he’s willing to say anything to get applause. I would simply say that the effort he has put behind these plans, along with the fact that these are co-attributed to his daughter, Ivanka (who seems genuinely family oriented), he doesn’t want to be mocked as a “loooser” by not succeeding with ideas becoming reality. Also, I think the fact that Gov. Mike Pence is his running mate–a man who is unarguably pro-family–offers Trump’s courting of pro-family voters and Christians some credibility.
Trump seems to really care about this, something that cannot be said for Hillary. There is an urgency and understanding that sometimes comes through when Trump discusses certain topics which Hillary cannot come close to imitating. Hillary does not care about family. She does not care about her own family (it seems), let alone the family trying to make a quality life for themselves in middle America. I think one can come to a reasonable conclusion that Mr. Trump is more likely to fight for these reforms (and others) more than Mrs. Bill Clinton would. ☩