Provisions included within the Democrats’ proposed reconciliation package would tighten federal regulations on childcare centers, drastically raising the cost of care and putting faith-based childcare centers at a disadvantage.
The Build Back Better Act, championed by the Biden administration and already passed by the House of Representatives, includes a “Toddler Tax” that would limit parents’ influence and give the federal government more control over the education of very young children through the proposed “universal Pre-K” plans. The increase in spending called for in the bill will result in new regulations for childcare providers, as well as higher costs, fewer providers, and less access to affordable care for working families. Additionally, the plan also attacks basic freedoms by barring parents from choosing faith-based providers over government-approved options.
While supporters say that the plan’s provisions offer “game-changing investments in child care and prekindergarten,” critics argue that the plan will increase federal requirements for childcare providers, going even further than the already stringent regulations currently implemented by state governments.
The People’s Policy Project estimates that wage requirements associated with the new childcare provisions could raise childcare costs by $13,000 per year for unsubsidized middle-class families. The increase in wages, driven by tighter federal regulations on childcare, could push smaller, home-based providers out of the childcare market altogether. Given that potential, these childcare provisions in the Democrats’ reconciliation package could prove to be especially disastrous for smaller and community-based childcare businesses.
Furthermore, these provisions in the proposed budget overhaul also pose concerning implications for religious freedom. The proposals contained within the reconciliation package would change “long-standing federal policy allowing parents to choose the childcare provider that best meets their needs through vouchers, including faith-based providers, which play an important role in society,” according to U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.
A recent survey conducted by the Bipartisan Policy Center found that 53 percent of working families who rely on center-based care for their children use centers and preschools affiliated with religious organizations.
Walorski noted that as angry and proactive as parents have gotten over the indoctrination and anti-parent attitude they see taking place in public K-12 schools, “just wait to see what happens when they find out their only option for day care is a Washington-approved provider.”
Patrick T. Brown, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, compared the plan to Obamacare and the infamous lie, “If you like your health plan, you can keep it.”
They write of the ban on churches participating in the program,
“This carveout is unconscionable; it’s also potentially unconstitutional. Progressives are so concerned about one cent of public money going to support the workings of a place of worship that they’d rather bar them from benefitting from money intended to expand child care access. For a movement that likes to talk about diversity and inclusion, it’s an ugly blind spot, if not outright animus.”
Democrats may want the public to believe that this plan will improve life for parents, but their barring of churches from participation shows their motivation is to eliminate faith-based daycare and preschool options, as well as to force everyone into a government-approved facility, which will be beholden to government requirements such as diversity, equity, and other left-wing trainings. As Brown and Wilcox note, even if a daycare or preschool opts to not participate in the program, they will be forced to raise wages to meet those being paid by competitors, meaning many church daycares and preschools would likely go under.
If the motivation was to help parents, faith-based organizations would be included, especially considering that the majority of parents prefer for their child to either be at home with a parent or in a faith-based daycare or preschool. Instead, the motivation behind this proposal is the same as America has seen in other arenas: to have more control over children. The government wants to bring the same poorly run and anti-faith and anti-parent mentality to preschool and daycare as that is ruining K-12 public education.
The move is unconstitutional, as seen in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer in which the Supreme Court stated that a religious organization could not be denied a benefit due to its religious status. In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court further ruled that a religious school could not be barred from a public tuition program because of its religious status. Yet cases like Carson v. Makin and Bethel Ministries, Inc. v. Salmon continue to be brought before the courts because antireligious government officials would rather deny benefits to children than allow religious organizations to participate in programs.
Despite all of the failure they’ve seen in other areas, the left continues to double down on more regulation and less choice using government subsidies. Ostensibly, this is to bring down costs when the true path to bringing down costs is simply to allow more parental choice and more freedom.
If this “Toddler Tax” plan is passed, it will have catastrophic impacts on parents and children and will be deeply destructive to the fabric of American society as we know it today.