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Ethics & Religion
September 15, 2016
Column #1,829
Three Trump Ideas Deserve Consideration
By Mike McManus


In the last week Donald Trump has proposed three ideas that deserve consideration. First, is school choice. "Millions of poor and disadvantaged students are trapped in failing schools," he told the Value Voters Summit of the Family Research Council.

"My goal is to provide every single inner-city child in America...the freedom to attend the school of their choice." It could be a private school, a religious school, a charter or magnet school instead of being forced to attend failing public schools.

"My plan will break the government monopoly and make schools compete to provide the best services to our children, including every African-American and Hispanic child in this country."

What's particularly innovative is Trump's proposal that the Federal Government provide a $20 billion block grant to partially fund school choice. However, since 90% of education spending is at the state level, Trump calls on the states to reallocate $110 billion of existing budgets for school choice programs.

"The money will follow the student to the public, private or religious school that is best for them and their family," he asserted. He called school choice a "new civil rights agenda."

In 2002 the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of public funding for 3,700 low income children to attend private schools in a 5-4 decision. President Bush flew to Cleveland to praise the decision as "a great victory to parents and students throughout the nation by upholding the decisions made by local folks here in Cleveland."

One result of that decision is the growth of the "charter school" movement. There are now nearly 6,000 charter schools compared to 99,000 public schools. However, ten states and many cities have none. Therefore, Trump's proposal will be of keen interest. The dysfunctional monopoly in inner city schools continues due to the power of teacher unions - who fervently support Hillary Clinton.

Two additional Trump proposals are to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave and expanded tax credits for child care. No other Republican Presidential nominee ever made a case for either.

"Those in leadership must put themselves in the shoes of the laid-off factory worker or the mom struggling to afford child care," Trump said at a rally in the Philadelphia suburbs on Tuesday. "Child care is such a big problem and we are going to solve that problem."

He argued that affordable child care "should not be the luxury of a fortunate few."

Standing next to him as he spoke was Ivanka Trump, his daughter and a mother of three who pushed her father to take this stand. In fact, she introduced him by noting that "Today child care is the single greatest expense of families - exceeding housing in much of the country." She also charged that the U.S. is "the only country without paid maternity leave."

Her father asserted, "We need working mothers to be fairly compensated for their work and to have access to affordable, quality child care for their kids."

However, her father erroneously stated, "My opponent has no child care plan of her own and never will." In fact, Clinton issued her plan for maternity leave more than a year ago, and it guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave for a new-born - double that of Trump and also offers leave for a sick relative. And it is financed by higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

By contrast, Trump said his six-week maternity leave would not cost taxpayers anything because it is supposedly to be paid for by eliminating fraud in unemployment insurance. That's a pie-in-the-sky scheme. It suggests that Trump is not making a serious proposal.

Trump was more specific about how his child care plan would enable parents to deduct the cost of child-care expenses from their income taxes. He would allow parents to deduct the cost of up to four children at the average cost of care in that state. Lower income parents who do not pay taxes would get a child-care rebate of $1,200. Critics noted that $1,200 would not go far toward the often $10,000 cost to care for one child.

Some conservatives were pleasantly surprised that Trump also proposed the tax benefit for stay-at-home mothers. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, asserted. "It is innovative" to acknowledge "the contributions of stay-at-home parents."

Long after the election, regardless of who wins, school choice, maternity benefits and expanded child care will be viable political proposals.
Copyright (c) 2016 Michel J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. For previous columns go to Hit Search for any topic.

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