Rebecca Hamilton is a former pro-abortion activist and leader. As the Oklahoma Director of NARAL, she helped establish the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma, and she continued her activism after being elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. After experiencing a profound conversion to Christ, voters returned her to office as a pro-life Democrat and she spent twelve years defending life and families in the Oklahoma Legislature. Rebecca left her political career in 2014, and along with the National Catholic Register, she writes at Patheos on her blog Public Catholic.
Politicians who say they favor family values should pass legislation that favors families. Here are twelve family-favoring policy ideas to start the ball rolling.
- Do away with the marriage tax penalty. Combining the income of married couples pushes them into a higher tax rate than they would have if they were single and reported their incomes separately. Government clearly has the power to change this.
- Stop the practice of computing payments on student loans based on both spouses’ income and base it on the person who took out the loan’s income only. Right now, young people are refusing to get married because if they do, their student loan payments will go higher than they afford to pay. This would eliminate that.
- Mandate paid maternity leave. This is so obvious and just that no one who says they favor family values should oppose it. But many politicians do. I believe this is because their “family values” lose when they conflict with their corporatist loyalties.
- Provide a tax exemption for the first $2,000 that families who have an income of less than $150,000 per year put in 529 plans (college funding plans) for their children or grandchildren. This would help the next generation avoid the blight that student loans have become.
- Limit use of student loan monies to payment for tuition, housing in school-sponsored student housing, books and necessary fees for education. This would force some students to get part-time jobs to pay for housing, and it would force others to live with their parents. But it would put a lid on the amount they owe when they graduate. A lot of young people are living large on their loans when they are in school, only to end up economically crippled for life when they graduate.
- Require that all publicly-funded institutions of higher learning must have approval by a majority vote of the full state legislature for any hikes in fees or tuition. Oklahoma set a bad example a few years ago by allowing schools to raise tuition without legislative approval. Tuition went through the roof after this happened.
- Set a cap on the cost of textbooks that institutions of higher learning receiving federal loan monies may use. Allow a certain percentage of textbooks to exceed this cost with the caveat that the higher cost book must be justified as to how it would benefit the students’ learning experience over a lower cost book. The cost of textbooks is a scandal and an obvious gouge to students. If the government is supporting this through the use of student loans, it has the clear right to control it.
- Provide full income tax deductions for the first $2000 in annual childcare costs per child. Provide the same deduction for each child when a parent stays home to care for minor children.
- Provide income tax incentives for families where one parent stays home to care for minor children.
- Provide federal tax incentives to companies that have on-site day care for their employees’ minor children.
- Raise the standard tax deduction per child for married couples.
- Provide sales tax penalties on goods produced in overseas plants by companies do not do a certain percentage of their manufacturing here in America. Earmark this money to pay for the tax exemptions listed here. One of the major problems families face is that jobs in this country have devolved to McJobs, instead of high-paying manufacturing jobs. This often requires both parents to work 50 or 60 hours a week, oftentimes on several different jobs each, just to make ends meet. This makes it impossible for them to properly raise their children. America’s corporatist economic policies have contributed heavily to the destruction of American families and the rise of large numbers of feral children who grow up to be non-productive or even dangerous citizens.
The first question people ask is, “How will we pay for this?” The answer is quite simple. End the lopsided tax structure that requires the working people of this country to pay for government almost entirely on their own.
Corporatism is a form of fascism that weds government and corporate interests in such a way that corporate interests control the government. This is what we have in America right now.
Corporate interests acquired this power by buying politicians, and indeed both political parties, through campaign donations.
Think of it this way. Spending, say, a hundred fifty million dollars every four years and another seventy-five million every two years, is chump change when it’s stacked up against the power to control a government budget of trillions.
On my travels as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, I had a number of conversations with powerful people in other countries who are mystified and dismayed by the waste and lack of desire to compete on the part of American business. These people want to see America succeed because they know that their own security and the peace of the world depends on it. The behavior of American business, the way it seems to almost avoid getting in there and fighting for markets, the way that America allows vultures to pick off our best holdings, scares them.
I never said this to them, but I know the reason. American corporations don’t try to compete. When they have a problem they go to the government and demand a change in the law that favors them over their competitors. Either that, or they demand a revision in the tax structure that allows them to benefit from their own destruction. They take a slash and burn attitude toward their holdings because the cash from this behavior ends up entirely in the hands of those who make the decision to do it.
Our tax structure has been altered so that the American people are paying the freight for all this, including the cycle of endless war that has entrapped this country. This endless war-making not only mangles our sons and daughters—it enriches corporate interests.
At the same time, the draconian measures that are taken to afford this war-making destroy the wage-earning power of the people of this country. War has become another device used to funnel most of America’s wealth into the hands of a few corporate interests.
What we have right now is government of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation. This is not, most emphatically not, capitalism. It also not conservatism. It is a vicious form of corporatism that will eventually leave the American people living in penury. It is also profoundly anti-Christian, teaching as it does that we should rob Lazarus to further enrich the rich man.
A good number of the people in this country have been taught and come to believe that spending the taxpayers’ own money on the taxpayers themselves is communism. It is nothing of the sort. It is the form of capitalism that built this country. It, and the use of government on behalf of America and its people, is what made this nation a great economic power in the first place.
The practice of spending the taxpayers’ money on those who can and do buy our government through campaign donations is a pernicious and destructive practice that will lead to our ruin if we do not reverse it.
The twelve policy changes that I suggested are policies that value families. That is what we need—not more mouthpiece politicians who say they favor family values, while voting against the survival of the American family and in favor of corporate interests with almost every vote they cast.