The National Organization for Women (NOW) wants a truce in the Mommy Wars - the fight between women who stay home with children and moms who work. But does their agenda accomplish that aim?
NOW lobbies for regulations requiring family friendly policies at businesses, government funding for early childhood education, and giving stay-at-home moms greater access to entitlement programs. But a government giveaway to working moms reduces a stay-at-home mom's value to her family and vice versa.
Consider "free" day care. Much of the fiscal value of staying home stems from the fact day care costs money. Even families who believe kids are better off with a parent at home would find it more difficult to forgo a second income if day care were free. The government may not charge users for day care, but someone - the taxpayer - pays for it.
Policies to benefit stay-at-home parents are equally misguided. Some propose Social Security credits for stay-at-home moms. Under such a system, government bureaucrats would have to assign a "wage" for the work of raising a child in order to determine how much Social Security pays at retirement.
Meanwhile, a working mom who earns the same wage assigned to the stay-at-home mom would not earn additional benefits despite losing one-tenth of her income to Social Security taxes.
Peace in the Mommy Wars begins with government neutrality. Instead of funding programs or providing tax incentives, policymakers should free women to follow their own preferences. Lower, flatter taxes, for instance, would benefit all mothers.
Carrie L. Lukas is the director of policy for the Independent Women’s Forum and a Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow. A longer version of this article appeared in the Washington Times.