With the federal government already running annual deficits in excess of $1 trillion, a liberal think tank is calling on Uncle Sam to spend hundreds of billions more on “universal preschool” and child care — a proposal that could well make its way into President Barack Obama’s impending State of the Union address.
The Center for American Progress (CAP), which the Associated Press describes as “an influential partner for the White House in fleshing out its policies,” released its proposal on February 7. The plan calls for Washington to spend almost $200 billion over the next 10 years, followed by nearly $25 billion each year thereafter, to “make high-quality preschool universally accessible to all 3- and 4-year-old children” and to “enable more lower-income families to afford child care for children ages 0-3 years old.”
The first part of the CAP’s proposal:
All children ages 3 and 4 should be able to voluntarily attend a full-day public preschool program. Preschool should be free for children from families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line ($46,100 for a family of four). Children from families above 200 percent of the poverty line should be charged a sliding tuition co-pay, ranging from about 30 percent of the cost to 95 percent of the cost (for families above 400 percent of the poverty line).
Besides the cost to taxpayers, estimated at $98.4 billion over the first 10 years and $12.3 billion in each subsequent year, there are a number of troubling things in this part of the plan.
First, note the emphasis on public preschool. The objective clearly is to get as many children into the clutches of the state educational system as early as possible. As the CAP observed elsewhere in its proposal, “Years of research demonstrate that the first five years of a child’s cognitive and emotional development establish the foundation for learning and achievement throughout life.” The sooner the government can begin molding the minds of children, the more likely they are to grow up to be compliant, subservient cogs in the state’s machinery rather than free-thinking, self-reliant individuals.
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