Trump releases Child Care Plan. Doesn’t the president, even Congress, have more important things to do?

It’s a very silly season, even for Minnesota. We have cities adopting or thinking about adopting laws that tell private employers what to pay workers, how to manage paid time off for illness, parental leave and other conditions of employment. Campaigns to raise the minimum wage dominate the news. The Center will discuss a lot of these issues next week at the lunch forum on the Minimum Wage .

The Trump campaign, championed by daughter Ivanka Trump, released its own “New Child Care Plan.” Presumably candidate Clinton has one of her own, along with policy prescriptions on minimum wage, parental leave and so on.

The Trump plan, as it turns out, is pretty darned good, if you accept the premise that the president of the United States and the federal government should be involved in such matters. The plan has received a thumbs up from our friends at the Independent Women’s Forum, the go-to free-market policy tank on these matters (IWF).

The feature of the Trump child care plan I like best? The plan recognizes the value and sacrifice of stay-at-home Moms by offering them the same tax deduction as women working outside the home. As IWF’s Carrie Lukas said in Forbes today, “That’s an important point and one that conservatives should embrace. The government shouldn’t be in the business of using subsidies to encourage more families to put their kids in paid daycare if they think that family care is best. Lots of families – including those with modest incomes – make big financial sacrifices to keep a parent home when kids are young and they deserve a break too.”

I agree, yes, that the feds should treat parents equally in that regard, and avoid policies that tip the decision on whether to stay home or go back to work one way or another. Whether to have children, when and how many. Though we may snort at the idea that Ivanka Trump has any clue about what most women face, it is refreshing that Trump has a daughter who is a working Mom and business owner talking about these issues, and that he has an impressive record of hiring women in his male-dominated business.

But aren’t we in trouble, not even in shouting distance of a limited government or free market, if basic labor and employment conditions are being set by politicians in Washington, D.C.? By the IRS Code? The Labor Department?

I think it is useful to step back, not just from time to time, but often, and ask ourselves: do we really want the federal government involved in these matters? Where in our Constitutional scheme do we find authority or even a persuasive argument for the feds to be legislating and rule-making, as if it was the HR Department in Chief for the nation? As for the states, as much as I hate to admit it, citizens were left very free to shape state policies. Better that we fight about these things in St. Paul than a far-away Washington, D.C.

For now, the federal and state governments are deeply involved. The Left won that argument back when we agreed to a minimum wage and other intrusions on the freedom of contract between an employer and employee.

So let’s at least get the facts right.

Ivanka Trump and the campaign are as fact-challenged as the Clinton campaign: they repeatedly use the slogans and lies from the Left on women’s pay (e.g. 81 cents on the dollar), even arguing that motherhood is “the greatest predictor of wage inequality on our country.” This may be good politics, and a smart ploy to get women to vote for Trump, but its sloppy data and that never leads to better policies, or happier Moms.

Ivanka needs to spend more time on the IWF’s website. There she will find studies by our upcoming speaker Mark Perry, who has eviscerated the pay equity argument with good data and logic. See you at the Minimum Wage lunch next week!