Oct
8

TEN IDEAS: Address the Child Care Deficit

One of the most under-reported problems in our society is the desperate need for child care. It’s costly, in short supply, and in high demand. Another matter is the number of single mothers who would like to work, but whose work would not be economical, after factoring in child care costs and the loss in government benefits resulting from the increase in income. In the absence of child care (and consequently, income), the government steps in to provide wrap-around benefits.

This situation needs to be rectified. And we can do it.

I would like to offer child-care training vouchers to single mothers living in certain low-income regions (i.e., the ones labeled by the IRS as “Opportunity Zones”). Rather than losing government benefits as a single mother earns income, I would like for those benefits to be converted to funds placed into a 529 education account for her children (which can be withdrawn tax-free for private school or college tuition costs). I would expand the Publicly Funded Child Care program, so the single mother would not need to worry about paying for child care–either while she is training to become a child-care provider, or while she is working as one.

This won’t be a revolutionary move. However, in taking these reasonably inexpensive steps, we have re-engaged many more Ohioans into the work force. By increasing the supply of child care, we have lowered the cost of child care for Ohioans of all socioeconomic classes. Perhaps of greatest value, by bolstering the Publicly Funded Child Care Program, we will expose more children to a learning environment from a young age, which will help close the education gap between them and those children who grow up in wealthier neighborhoods.

Child care is not a job for everyone. So this won’t be a program that will help every impoverished single mother. But it’s another tool in my toolbox to help eliminate generational poverty.

Oct
4

TEN IDEAS: Incentivize People to Abandon Government Assistance

Here is one of the most bothersome statistics about our economy: The bottom three-fifths of income earners all share about the same standard of living.

Why is that bothersome? Because most people in this category are scraping along to achieve this quality of life, working multiple jobs and taking overtime shifts. On the other hand, others are resting back, not maximizing their potential, and allowing government to pick up the slack.

I don’t blame the latter category of folks. I blame the system.

The system gives no incentive to move from one group to the other. Why work two jobs or take overtime shifts, when you can receive the same standard of living without doing so? Why go the extra mile to contribute to the economy if you lose a dollar of benefits for every dollar of income? It’s a perverse incentive that needs cured.

I have a cure.

My fifth policy idea is to invest a portion of the government benefits that a person gives up by working extra jobs/hours into a 401(k) retirement account for the benefit of that person. This would be a limited-time benefit, which can only be exercised once, which can be forfeited if the person later decides not to work (without good reason), and which is gradually reduced as time passes. But the amount involved will be a significant motivator (consider, as one example, someone who leaves Medicaid after accepting a job that provides healthcare benefits).

If this plan is adopted, we have mostly eliminated the perverse incentive to not work. If adopted, we have activated a not-insignificant swath of new workers. If adopted, we have provided a person, who otherwise likely would not have retirement savings, with a nice start to a retirement account. If adopted, we have taken a bite out of the vicious cycle of generational poverty. If adopted, we will ultimately reduce government entitlement spending.

This is one of many ideas I have to eliminate generational poverty, which I see as the biggest lasting problem facing our nation and state. This is an issue I feel very passionately about, and I think we can get broad bipartisan support for.

 

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