Mommy, daddy, don't vote Gore!
By Shelley McKinney
If my youngest child -- the one who is down on the floor by my feet, zooming three rakishly dressed Barbies around in a little purple Jeep -- were old enough to be able to review the income tax proposals of presidential candidates Bush and Gore, I know what she'd say.
She'd tell me to vote Bush.
Of course, that's what I am certain to do anyway, but it is always nice to know that we're all in agreement with one another as a family.
She has a vested interest in my conservative vote, tax-plan-wise. I discovered this fact when I was idly perusing Gore's tax plan the other day and observing how it generally lined up when placed side-by-side with the tax plan of Governor George W. Bush. This is not a scholarly analysis from a learned professor in economics, mind you; these are just the thoughts of one mother, or perhaps many.
I found two particular points in the Gore tax plan that were disconcerting to me and made me think that all of Al's sweeping promises at the Democratic Convention back in August were meant to benefit everyone but me and my family, probably because our chosen way of life is such an annoyance to the philosophies of so many liberal thinkers, who seem to be under the impression that everyone who isn't out there shouldering society's burden is a big loser and a real drag on the booming economy, too. Not to mention being unsupportive of abominable leftist theories such as mandatory kindergarten for four-year-olds and more government controlled day care centers.
I haven't been employed in the real world for precisely seven years and seven months: my oldest child is seven years and six months old. Before her birth, I was a teacher. After her birth, I tried to figure out why I should go back to work and pour myself into other people's children -- even though I liked teaching very much -- while my own child languished in day care. As it turned out, my husband was wondering the same thing and the result of all this thinking was that I became a full-time mother.
Al Gore has no use for me as such, however much my family has enjoyed the ministrations of having me around all day reading stories and making chili and gamely searching in the dryer vent for socks gone AWOL. Al Gore's tax plan proposes that the existing tax credit that gives two-income families a break on their child-care expenses be expanded so that more citizens at different income levels can taste of the fruits of his largesse.
On the Gore/Lieberman 2000 web site, Joe Lieberman is quoted as saying: "No parent should go to sleep at night worrying about how they will find and be able to pay for quality child care. That's why we would use this period of prosperity to ensure that American families can afford to keep their children safe and protected."
Never mind, Joe, about those of us who go to sleep at night wondering how to cope -- on one salary -- with the huge tax burden the American public currently staggers beneath, courtesy of the Clinton/Gore administration.
Please understand that I have no quarrel with two-income married couples receiving tax credits, nor do I believe that the only loving parents are the ones who opt to stay home with their children: I know from the experiences of my circle of friends that sometimes it isn't financially possible for one parent to stay at home with young children, no matter how much the parents wish they could. (My caveat on this opinion would be to express my limited respect for the parents who could afford for one adult to put in a few years of full-time parenting, but choose not to for selfish reasons, such as the acquisition of More and Better Stuff) That said, what I'd really like to see is a child-care tax credit for single-income, two parent families with one parent at home voluntarily forfeiting a salary in the real world. There are a lot of us out there, so it isn't as if we have escaped anyone's attention. In fact, the number of single-income, two parent-with-one-parent-at-home families is growing with the increasing popularity of home schooling across the nation. But for all Al Gore seems to notice, you'd think that Everyparent is straining at the tethers to dump an infant off in day care and get back to the office.
With my tongue in my cheek, I figure that our family's child care expenses amount to whatever average salary a teacher with five years of experience is paid in my state, which is what I could be making if I were participating in full-time employment outside my home. Therefore, if Gore wins the election, I'd like to deduct the full $2,400 he offers taxpayers from my husband's adjusted gross income on our tax forms. Do you think Al will let me?
The second thing that I (and my daughter, who just trounced me in a cutthroat game of Chutes-and-Ladders) find disturbing about the Gore tax proposal is the Child Care and Dependent Tax Credit which allows parents to stay at home to care for a child, but only for a child less than one year old. This is a step in the right direction -- I'll give the vice-president that much. Indeed, I find that it's more than Governor Bush has proposed as I view a brief outline of their plans. However, George W. Bush propounds increasing the Child Tax Credit from $500 to $1000, which would be a greater help to those of us who are providing full-time parenting for our little dependents who are thirteen months and older, as well as helping our two-income counterparts. But Gore won't even let us have that. It's back, back, back to work we go.
In short, while Governor Bush's tax plan is neutral on the subject of at-home parents, Gore's tax proposals serve to actively reward parents who choose to work, giving them that one skinny year at home as a sop. It's as if any clear-thinking person would know that one year with a kid is plenty, bonding-wise. Any more than that is just too darn indulgent, and unnecessary, too.
So why isn't there a similar sort of income-tax relieving reward for those who choose to parent their children for three years? Five years? Why does there always seem to be a liberal bias against people who make the effort to raise their own children? That's a question I'd like to ask Al Gore at the next debate.
"George W. Bush's massive $1.6 trillion tax cut aimed at a privileged few does nothing to help working families cope with child-care expenses," the Gore/Lieberman 2000 web site smugly informs us. But the Gore tax plan aimed at two-income families does nothing to help my family or any of the families like mine. In fact, we're probably the ones stuck shouldering the residual burden for their tax break. Hard luck.
Come to think of it, a better person to ask Al Gore that question I mentioned would be my daughter, who just came in with a stack of books and asked me to read to her. She would never understand why it is so important to the Democratic candidate to make sure that I am out of this house and out of her life for the greater portion of her waking hours, Monday through Friday, and heaven knows I could never explain it to her.
All she knows right now is that she would like to hear "When You Give a Moose a Muffin" for the three thousandth time and thankfully, I'm here to do it.
Shelley McKinney is a senior writer for Enter Stage Right. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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