Ross Douthat on America's Crisis of Family Life (and Family Policy)


Ross Douthat in his Christmas column for the New York Times from a few weeks ago:

[Domestic dissolution and falling marriage rates are not] an issue that politicians of either party are particularly comfortable addressing. Liberals worry about seeming paternalistic and judgmental; conservatives recoil from the idea of increasing the government’s role in the most intimate of spheres. Thus America has a crisis of family life, but no family policy to speak of.

... A more flexible alternative, championed by the conservative writers Ramesh Ponnuru and Robert Stein, would change the way we tax families, dramatically expanding the child tax credit in order to ease the burden on parents with young children. Their proposal would leave contemporary Baileys and Cratchits with more disposable income and more options without favoring one approach to parenting over another.

Obviously, neither generous parental leave nor an expanded child tax credit is a magic bullet for the problem of family breakdown. But if Democrats were championing the first idea and Republicans were championing the second, we would at least have the beginnings of a healthy conversation about family policy, instead of the conspicuous silence that surrounds the country’s biggest social crisis.

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