by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joe Biden has a New Deal for America’s kids.
He wants to spend more than $225 billion on child care for infants and toddlers, and $200 billion for free, universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds.
This is being hailed as a social revolution that will finally bring the United States in line with other advanced democracies.
In reality, it’s a program that shows a pronounced class bias. And since it is heedless of the experience of other such mass programs in the United States and around the world, the Biden approach is also likely to fail to achieve its goals.
It’s just not true, as the Biden program assumes, that parents of young children are eager to shuttle them off to industrialized day care or pre-K programs.
An extensive survey for the populist think tank American Compass found a stark class divide in how couples think about child care. The survey asked couples whether they preferred to have one parent working full time while the other parent provides child care in the home, or to have both parents working and using child care full time. One parent working was the preference of strong majorities of working-class (68 percent) and lower-class couples (58 percent), with a plurality of middle-class couples (38 percent) agreeing. Only a plurality of upper-class couples preferred the child-care option (44 percent).
So Biden is talking about using taxpayer dollars to create a default arrangement that most parents would rather avoid.
Then there are outcomes. In a paper earlier this year for the Manhattan Institute, researcher Max Eden reviewed the literature.
The programs that have produced the most remarkable positive outcomes over the years tend to be small, expensive, and very difficult to replicate. …
… All of this would suggest taking a cautious approach focused on the least-advantaged kids. …