Many Americans would, I suppose, be surprised to learn that the truth is that many high-tax, high-benefit countries are quite successful at creating jobs. Take the case of France: adults aged 25 to 54, the best years of work, are After likely to be employed in France than in America, mainly because French women have a higher paid employment rate than their American counterparts. The Nordic countries have an even greater employment advantage among women.
How can employment be so high in countries where “job-killing” taxes are plentiful? The answer is that taxes don’t visibly kill jobs – but the lack of child care does. Parents in many rich countries are able to accept paid work because they have access to safe and affordable child care; in the United States, such care is prohibitively expensive for many, if they can get it. And the reason is that our government spends next to nothing on child care and pre-kindergarten; our spending as a percentage of GDP puts us somewhat below Cyprus and Romania.
The American Family Plan would completely change that picture, offering free preschool for all ages 3 and 4 while limiting child care costs to no more than 7% of income for low- and middle-income parents. If this increased the employment of prime-age American women at the French level, it would create around 1.8 million jobs; if we went up to danish levels we would add three million jobs.
To be clear, allowing more women to take paid jobs isn’t the main goal of this plan – and there’s nothing wrong with parents choosing to stay home and stay home. take care of their children. Instead, it is mainly about improving the environment in which children grow up, partly for reasons of social justice, partly so that they end up growing into healthier and more productive adults.
But higher employment – jobs usually expand to meet the available labor force – would be a significant and more immediate side benefit. And it would also offer partial tax compensation for the direct cost of childcare and pre-K, both because newly working Americans would pay taxes and because they would be less likely to need the support. safety net programs like food stamps. No, Biden’s spending plans won’t pay for themselves. But they will cost taxpayers less than the numbers suggest.
And if these plans improve the lives of millions of Americans, will anyone other than professional ideologues care about being a “great government”?
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