We Can Debate Whether Trump’s Child Care Proposal Is Conservative or Not — But Politically It’s a Home Run
Sep 14, 2016
RUSH: Richard in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, outside Kansas City. Great to have you, sir. Glad you waited. Hi.CALLER: Hey, Rush, proud Navy dad dittos to you, sir.
RUSH: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Same to you.
CALLER: Hey, a lot of purist conservatives have started to criticize Trump’s proposed child care and paid leave for the parents. Before they get too all bothered about that, I want them to consider that Donald Trump’s proposal for child care and maternity leave, that promotes and strengthening the family that we’re always talking about being so important. By making it easier on the parents to have paid time off and child care costs and tax-free savings accounts they could roll over for college, all of that just builds the family. And it’s something we need to consider if we’re talking about the family being so important, we can invest in families that need help up to a certain extent where he’s gonna put the cutoffs and everything. But I think that would just really go so far in helping rebuild our society’s fabric.
RUSH: So to summarize, I’ll ask you a question. You are not at all concerned about the nature and the substance of Trump’s entitlement, his new entitlement proposal to use government money to shore up the family?
CALLER: Yeah. I mean, I’m a fiscal conservative, and I’m voting for Trump and, you know, I think that we spend so much money on studies and research and grants and things like that, we can invest in the family, the fabric of society.
RUSH: See, here’s… Okay. Richard, I appreciate the call. Thank you very much. There’s ideology and there’s politics, and sometimes they intersect. Sometimes ideology and politics come together and it is a beautiful thing. Sometimes the ideology guides the politics. Other times the politics and the ideology may get close but they don’t intersect. Which is what we have here. We have Trump via his daughter’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today advocating a new child care and family policy using the federal government, which is not conservative ideologically.
But neither was George W. Bush’s Medicare Part B, and a lot of conservatives got mad at that, too, at the same time. But this episode has given ammo to all the conservatives who have been opposed to Trump from the beginning. They’ve been saying, “You guys, you’re falling for it! This guy’s not one of us. He’s not a conservative. He’s a Big Government guy, and you are gonna get fooled.” Now they’re saying, “See? We told you,” with this proposal. But a lot of Trump supporters aren’t going to care because the ideology and the politics, they don’t meet up here; they don’t care.
RUSH: Mr. Snerdley said to me the last caller was from a guy who had no problem with Trump’s new so-called entitlement, his new child care, family entitlement, no problem with it whatsoever. The guy said, “Hey, look, if they’re gonna be passing around federal money, we gotta come to grips with it, Rush. If they’re gonna give out federal money, isn’t it about time we got some,” meaning us, we conservatives.
And Snerdley said, “I thought you would just jump on that guy and just destroy that guy.” Well, one thing, I didn’t have time. I wasn’t even inclined to destroy the guy. I know exactly where he’s coming from. I know who the Trump supporters are. I know how they think. And they’re not thinking ideologically. We are so far beyond that on the Trump side of things, and I still don’t know why that’s so hard for people to understand. Maybe it is not hard to understand. Maybe they just don’t accept it because the ideological route is what sustains them.
But let’s — (interruption) no, we’ll get to the Mehmet Oz, it is Dr. Oz stuff and Trump and CNN here in just a second.
But let’s focus on this proposal that actually appears as an op-ed by Ivanka Trump in the Wall Street Journal today and just give you a little flavor for it. “The Trump Plan Will Help Working Mothers.” That is the headline to Ivanka’s piece in the Wall Street Journal.
And she starts it this way: “For me, motherhood is a gift and a tremendous source of joy. Yet it’s also the greatest predictor of wage inequality in our country. In 2014, single women without children earned 94 cents on a man’s dollar. Married mothers made only 81 cents.” Now, right there I can hear the shouted objections. “Not true! Not true, whether you say 70 cents, 73 cents, it’s been pretty much taken care of. There isn’t this great disparity anymore.” I hear you. We’ll deal with it in just a second.
Then Ivanka writes, “We all agree that women should have equal pay for equal work, but that’s not enough. The lack of quality, affordable child care is one of the biggest challenges facing American parents. The current federal policies created to benefit families were written more than 65 years ago when dual-income families were not the norm.” ‘Cause they weren’t necessary. I added that, by the way. She didn’t write they weren’t necessary. I added that. And they used to not be.
“Today, however, in about two-thirds of married couples, both spouses work. In addition, 70% of mothers with children under 18 work outside the home; so do 64% of moms with kids under age 6. The number of households led by single mothers has doubled in the past three decades, and the majority of these women work in low-paying jobs without flexibility or benefits. My father, in his campaign for president, has proposed a plan to bring federal policies in line with the needs of today’s working parents.”
And here we get to the policy proposal, the substance. “Part one is a rewrite of the tax code, allowing working parents to deduct from their income taxes child care expenses for up to four children, as well as for elderly dependents,” which is if Mamaw, Nanaw, and Paw Paw live with you. “This will be capped at the average cost of child care in each family’s state, and the wealthiest individuals will not be eligible for the deduction.” She didn’t say that, did she? I can hear the catcalls now. “The benefit is structured to ensure that working- and middle-class families see the largest reductions in their taxable incomes.”
Snerdley, a quick question. How many people do you think know the difference in a tax deduction and a tax credit? Just a little pop quiz question. I would say not many. I’d say not many. I’ll explain the difference here in just a second. Let me keep on here with her piece, because she’s proposing tax deductions. A tax deduction lowers your taxable income. A tax credit, it’s like a credit anywhere else. Somebody gives you a gift card to the Apple store. Okay, you got a 50 dollar gift card, you’ve got a 50 dollar credit with Apple. You go in there and buy 50 bucks of stuff, you give ’em the card and whoever bought the card is paying for it. Not you. It doesn’t reduce your taxable income. It’s in this way the earned income tax credit — this is how people that don’t pay taxes actually get a tax refund, because of the tax credit. But they’re proposing tax deductions.
She writes, “To bring meaningful assistance to lower-income Americans who don’t pay income tax, the Trump plan will offer rebates on child-care spending through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).” This is why I asked how many people know the difference.
“In a nation where almost two-thirds of mothers with children under age six are employed, child care is an undisputed work-related expense. In business, other such expenditures are tax-deductible. This single reform under the Trump plan will effectively increase the take-home pay for tens of millions of American parents. And what if one parent staying home to raise the children is the best option for a family? This is the praiseworthy choice of many, yet there’s zero value or recognition by our government for this hard and meaningful work. Under my father’s proposal, stay-at-home parents will receive the same tax deduction as their working peers.”
Okay, but why is this a government concern in the first place? Why is there zero value or recognition by our government for the hard work of raising kids? Why is that a government concern, period? What does it matter whether the government recognizes it or not and supports it one way or another via the tax code? I thought we were about getting government out of our lives. What is all of this, having government recognize the value of child rearing? I’m just telling you I hear the objections.
“The plan’s second part is the establishment of Dependent Care Savings Accounts, created to aid families in setting aside extra money to foster their children’s development and offset elder care for adult dependents. These accounts will operate like Health Savings Accounts, with tax-deductible contributions and tax-free appreciation year to year. When established for a minor, funds from a Dependent Care Savings Account can be applied to traditional child care, after-school enrichment programs and school tuition.
“To help lower-income parents, the government will match half of the first $1,000 deposited each year. Balances in a Dependent Care Savings Account will roll over from year to year so that a substantial amount of money can be accrued over time. … The third part of the plan will address the federal regulations that currently discourage informal child-care — such as a mom watching her own kids and a few others in her home. Arrangements such as these are not now given fair consideration by our federal bureaucracy, which is biased in favor of institutional care. We need to create a dynamic marketplace to offer solutions and give parents greater freedom of choice.”
Now, let me tell you what this is about, ’cause this one could skate by you. You ever heard of the Smart Start program? You know what it is? The Smart Start program is — look, just to make this brief, it is a quasi, kind of like Head Start or early day care run by the federal government. The Smart Start program has actually made sure that there isn’t any competition in child care.
What I think Ivanka is talking about here is the circumstance where you have a mother at home watching her own kids and helping out others friends of hers — other people in the neighborhood — by watching their kids while other moms are at work, and this is essentially what the Smart Start program does. You deposit your kid at the Smart Start location, you go about your day, and the government has control of your kids.
The government’s educating them, the government’s inculcating them — the government’s doing this — and it’s portrayed as a benefit. Her point is that there are a lot of mothers doing the same thing, the equivalent of doing it in the private sector but not being compensated, and they can’t effectively be compensated because who can compete with the federal government and a program like Smart Start? Smart Start does not get any kid ahead. Head Start doesn’t get any kid ahead.
None of these government child care programs do anything but create a bunch of young bunch of little liberals, future liberals running around. So what to make of this? I’m like a lot of people. I’ve got mixed reactions to this. Politically, this is why I started by saying there’s ideology and there’s politics. I have to admit that politics, at this stage of our country’s existence, where we are… Let me ask you pointblank: Do you think the argument over big versus small government’s still going on, or do you think it’s over? And if you think it’s over, who won?
How many people do you know whose vote is predicated largely or maybe totally on which candidate swears to get government out of as much of life as possible, and who is that candidate? I would maintain to you that, in this cycle, we have two candidates representing the two major parties, neither of which is conservative. I don’t think the Republican Party is conservative. Maybe it is if compared to the Democrats. Certainly it would be.
But if you are defining conservatism honestly and strictly, we don’t have a conservative political party. We have two candidates representing two major parties, neither of which is conservative, the parties or the nominees, safe to assume. So if you look at Trump’s plan for child care, maternity leave, elderly care, you could sit there and lament all day, “Oh, gosh, see? This is exactly why we needed Cruz! We wouldn’t even be messing with this.
“If it was Cruz, we wouldn’t have to wade through all this ‘maybe,’ ‘if,’ or ‘what’ stuff. We’d just have a 10% flat tax, put everybody under it, and get rid of virtually all deductions and just end the government paying people to do this and not paying people to do that.” But we don’t have that. Ted Cruz didn’t win. We have what we have, and the politics of this right now… My assessment is, for Trump, I think the politics and the impact for Trump is pure gold right now.
RUSH: Look, bottom line: I am the last person on earth who wants any expansion of the government. But I am also the first person on earth to understand that we have a mess in child care because of government and because of the left. We have a mess. As I read through Ivanka’s piece, it seems to me that there’s more weight given to lowering taxes — tax deductions for child and elderly care. It seems like that’s every bit as important in her plan, Trump’s plan, as is the expansion of government.
There’s another way of looking at this, too, folks. In looking at Trump’s plan for child care and maternity leave and elderly care, conservatives can lament that it’s not the Ted Cruz plan. “Oh, my God! If this was Cruz, we’d have 10% flat tax and be done and there wouldn’t be any of this mess.” You can look at it that way as, “Oh, what if,” or you can look at the Trump plan and describe what it does and compare it to Hillary’s, assuming she presents one after recovering from what may be the mildest case of pneumonia in history.
That, it seems to me, is what the comparison needs to be. Other than an intellectual exercise, you can’t say, “Oh, what could have been! Oh, how bad! Oh, I told you!” I know there’s a whole bunch of I told you so’s out there, but I think politically… You wait. I think just for people that are not ideological — which is a hell of a lot of people in this country. I think they’re gonna respond so positively to this, and it’s gonna disappoint a lot of people. “Oh, my God, do people not even understand the whole concept of Big Government destroying the country?” They don’t, folks. They don’t look at it the way you and I do in that regard.
RUSH: Back to this Trump plan here. ‘Cause it’s dicey. ‘Cause, as I say, I’m the last person on earth who wants any expansion of government. I’ll also tell you this. All of these government-run Head Start, Smart Start, all these programs where they take toddlers and they put ’em into government-run programs and so forth, totally state and federal supported government programs, there’s billions of dollars spent on this stuff every year that they end up indoctrinating babies, essentially, and there isn’t any consistent evidence that this housing of children has any effect on their futures in school.
The whole point here is to get ’em head started so they start learning sooner in school. And it’s like anything else government does, when government actually takes over and run something like Flint, Michigan, or Detroit, you want to get out. So I have huge problems with all of these Head Start programs, and the Trump plan specifically addresses them and has a conversion for converting them to or a plan for converting them to private sectors, where the same money being spent on the federally run programs would be spent on these neighborhood programs run by individual Americans.
Another thing Trump could say. He could say he’s gonna pay for this by eliminating welfare payments to illegal aliens, illegal immigrants. There’s any number of ways of pitching this as revenue neutral, if he wants to. The allowances for tax break for caring for elderly people, actual firsthand experience here, that could be a blessing to a lot of people. And I’ll tell you why. It’s not just abortion where the left seeks to eliminate life. It’s at the elderly end of the spectrum as well.
And, in large part, people go along with it, you know what the cost is, you know what medical costs are, the vast majority of any individual’s medical expenses occur in late life, where there isn’t any hope for a cure, this kind of thing. Families can’t afford, they can’t get insurance for it, it’s an absolute mess. And the government once again has come in and jacked around in all of this. And, like most everything else the government tries to run — I’m not talking about paying for, but the actual things they run, they don’t run anything well, by definition.
One other aspect of Trump’s proposal here. You could also say that what it is is a manipulation of the tax code, a manipulation of existing programs to the benefit of people who at present do not benefit. This is why I think politically this thing is gonna be a home run. I think you’re gonna have a lot of people who have concluded that the government is involved. The argument over small government, nonexistent government, they’re way beyond that. They’re looking at who the government’s helping and who isn’t being helped.
And in large measure, they don’t think that people violating the law ought to be the beneficiaries of government support to the point of being totally provided for. So with the manipulation of the tax code and existing programs and the creation of these savings accounts, which, by the way, the savings account, let me tell you something, I don’t care if it’s a school voucher, or if it’s a health care savings account or now this savings account, are those not the hallmarks of every conservative think tank you have ever heard of? Are those things not the exact proposals we get from conservative think tanks all over the place?
My point is that all of a sudden now it’s become a government entitlement. When Trump proposes it, people are calling it an entitlement, an expansion of government. But when certain other people propose these savings accounts, why, that’s reform, why, that’s conservative values being commingled with existing programs and blah, blah. So it just depends on who’s doing the judging here. I think that’s always kind of been in the weeds anyway, to try to define conservatism for average, ordinary people as a school voucher plan, which I love the school voucher plan, and, by the way, so do people who benefit from ’em.
But a lot of this has occurred to the benefit of the kind of thinking that comes out of think tanks, which is okay, fine. I don’t want to get into a fight with those people. My only point here is that Trump has proposed one of his own savings accounts and people are calling it an entitlement, whereas the same people calling it an entitlement propose their own savings accounts and nobody calls it an entitlement. Am I right or am I wrong about this?
I mean, the health care savings account. It’s a great idea. Nobody calls it an entitlement, but they would if Trump proposed it, because they want to try to discredit it. Well, they do work. The health care savings account works, the school voucher plans work, any of these others. The health care savings accounts is very simple. You take the amount of money we spend on you anyway for health care and we give it to you, put it in a saving account, and then you buy your own treatment. You buy your insurance, you buy your treatment.
The theory is, when you’re using your money and it’s a finite amount of money in your account, you’re gonna shop. You’re gonna try to find the best deal, even if it’s health care. Because you don’t want to spend all that, because you get to keep what’s left over. That’s the other part of the deal, you get to keep it, it rolls over. So you shop around. This theoretically introduces competition where none exists now. This, in theory, introduces market forces to a circumstance, health care, which is totally dominated by government and health insurance companies.
It is a great idea. Totally great idea. And it’s called conservative, great conservative idea, when it’s proposed by those people. Trump proposes his and all of a sudden it’s become an entitlement, an expansion of government and so forth. It just depends on who’s describing it and whether they support Trump or don’t, in large measure.
But, these approaches, Trump’s approach on the savings account side has always, always, always been called conservative, is my point. But now there are some people who now want to say it isn’t. No, I’m just observing, pure and simple, just observing.
RUSH: No, no, no, no. I am fully aware. You can’t get any of this stuff past me. I am fully aware there’s all kinds of Republicans and conservatives reacting to this Trump proposal, and they’re practically shouting it, they don’t want to pay for other people’s day care. When is this gonna stop? Why are we just transferring who gets paid? When is this gonna stop? It’s not the job of the government to pay for my health care, for your children’s health care, your child rearing. That’s your responsibility. Why the hell do I have to pay for it? I hear all of that.
Well, here’s the sad reality. We have been paying for other people’s child care for decades now. We’ve been doing worse than that. We’ve been doing more than that. We’ve been paying some people to have kids. We’ve been paying other people not to have ’em. We have been raising kids. The federal government has become the father in many families, and this has been going on for decades now. And it’s nothing more than federal regulated indoctrination.
There’s a reality in our world today, and it is parents have to work, those that can find jobs. And the odds are both of them are going to. And I happen to support the whole concept of strong families and encouraging work. These are not easy questions for people ideologically inclined. But I’m telling you, I think Trump’s supporters here are gonna just embrace this out the wazoo, to the frustration of countless Republicans and conservatives who have devoted their lives to the whole concept of educating people how government doing all this kind of stuff is bad no matter who gets the benefit.
Anyway, this is Lana in St. Augustine, Florida. It’s great to have you. I’m glad you waited. I know you want to weigh in on this.
CALLER: Hi, Mr. Limbaugh. Longtime listener, first-time caller, and it’s an honor to speak with you.
RUSH: Thank you very much.
CALLER: I just think, I cannot believe the hypocrisy of these Republicans that are supposedly conservative. It doesn’t seem to bother them that the government pays millions of dollars for illegal immigrants, that they’re resettling all these refugees, and Mr. Obama wants to bring more in. What is wrong with doing something that is gonna make America better? And supporting the family definitely is gonna make Americans better. And that is why I’m so disgusted with those Republicans.
RUSH: Okay. I hear you. I hear you. So we have all these minors coming in from Central America for two years now. They’re being brought in, they’re being transported around the country, deposited in various people’s homes, the government’s paying for all this, and very little opposition to it do we hear from Republicans, and they certainly aren’t screaming at ’em, they’re certainly not screaming about the evils of Big Government and so forth. But the Trump plan comes along and they come alive. And you’re hearing that.
So it’s come down to this. This is what these people are gonna think. And you can either accept this or not. They’re gonna look at it, the government is paying, the government’s supporting, paying, underwriting, whatever, a whole bunch of people, many of whom are not even American citizens. And so somebody comes along and proposes that actual citizens be helped with this money and all hell breaks loose? Sorry. Where do I get to the voting booth to vote for Mr. Trump? That’s how they’re reacting to this. It’s okay you want to get mad at Trump, try getting mad at the Democrats for the past ten years, then. That’s what they’re saying. I hear ’em. Here’s one more, I think. Joe in Queens. Joe, great to have you on the program. How you doing?
CALLER: Hey, Rush, great job, buddy. Hey, listen, I think Trump hit it out of the park last night. I think he beat Hillary to the punch with whatever lie that she was gonna come up with in regard to something like this, and what is wrong with choking the government for money that they blow foolishly anyway?
RUSH: What do you mean, choking the government?
CALLER: Well, if they’re saying that I could use money that normally would get taxed for child care and write that right off the top, that is conservative, because I’m choking the government away from money that I would have to pay to them anyway and then still have to do child care.
CALLER: I had a situation where my wife doesn’t work. She was involved in a very bad accident. I had to send my kid to a day care type facility. It cost me $400 a month after-tax money. I wasn’t able to write that off previously because they said my wife didn’t work. Well, she couldn’t work, she was in the hospital. So how could she have worked? So I think this plan is great. I think the presentation was phenomenal with his daughter.
RUSH: Yeah. My instincts are that politically for Trump that this is gonna be a big hit. But there are going to be others looking at it ideologically who are gonna say, “We told you so! We told you, this guy wasn’t who you thought he was.” And they’re gonna be trying to make that case for a host of reasons, most of which you know. Joe, I appreciate the call.
You know, a cynical Trump supporter might say that they would be willing to trade government subsidized child care and a hell of a lot more for secure borders and a wall and no amnesty. What do you think about that? You think they would go for that? “Hey, I’ll give you back this child care money if you shut down illegal immigration, build a wall, and end this talk of amnesty,” ’cause I’m telling you, this is the root of all this, folks. All this money being spent, and the effort is very public, the compassion being extended to people that are not legal citizens, against those who are, and the criticism of American citizens, I think establishment types still haven’t figured out what a sore spot all that is.