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A pro-family agenda for the upcoming Congress

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,
The Capitol is seen in Washington, Nov. 11, 2022. The post-election narrative has been focused on each party’s electoral fate: Republicans were disappointed that a red wave did not materialize, while Democrats braced for the likelihood of a House Republican takeover.

Founding Father James Wilson once wrote that the family was the “true origin of society.” 

He understood what many of the Founders knew, but few explicitly addressed in their writings because it was self-evident: namely, America can be only as strong as her families because families precede the state. Encouraging and investing in stronger families isn’t a new interest for conservatives. In fact, it’s one of the oldest and most important political priorities in the world. 

It’s also an undeniably complex project, in policy terms. Ask a dozen people what a “strong family” would need to thrive and you might get a dozen different answers. Even when people might agree, their emphasis might be different: Maybe they want more tax breaks for families, or stronger protection of parental rights. Maybe they want reforms in their kids’ schools, or expanded protections for children and the unborn. 

These are all important parts of the picture. In part, this explains the wide range of existing legislative proposals on the books from conservatives. If we want strong families, we need to build a wide-reaching network of smart, effective pro-family policies, and this task needs our attention now. That’s exactly why there is a coalition of conservative organizations calling on members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to prioritize paid family leave legislation and expanding the child tax credit. 

And when our new Congress begins in January, there are specific steps that GOP leaders can take to help strengthen American families. 

First off, they can expand the child tax credit to $3,000 per child. An obvious way to support families — especially lower- and middle-income families — is to make sure as much of their income as possible stays in their pockets. This was originally a Trump-era policy, and a good one. Reduce the tax burden and you’ll make larger families easier to establish and sustain, in addition to relieving undue stress on existing families. It’s a simple reform with wide-reaching, long-term implications. And in the long term, it can pay for itself in stronger families and more successful children.

They can also support paid family leave, as well as a range of other labor and workplace reforms that would protect parents. Fewer than one in five American workers have access to paid family leave after the birth or adoption of a child, and the number drops below one in 10 for low-wage workers. That is despite research showing that mothers and children are vastly better off with paid leave available to them in some way, both in simple physical terms and in less immediately tangible long-term emotional and psychological terms. Fewer babies die, fewer mothers suffer depression and children even perform better in school as teenagers

Protect American parents at work and you are protecting the families they nurture.

Related to this is the opportunity to expand the support networks available to vulnerable women who might seek abortions without help or resources. This, too, is a policy region where conservatives have already mapped a clear path forward. 

Truly pro-family politicians will recognize all these needs and seek to address them with smart policies. They will know what Wilson knew, what our Founders knew: That the family is where our nation’s battles are truly won or lost. 

For example, Texas’s Alternatives to Abortion program offers women essential medical care, material resources and educational support they otherwise might not receive. And this is an essential part of saving unborn lives — 75 percent of abortions in 2014 were performed on low-income women, the bitter fruit of a decades-long trend. Economic concerns are an extremely common reason to seek an abortion, and abortion-rate surges even have been linked to recessions.

Timothy Head is the executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. Follow him on Twitter @timothyrhead.

Tags 118th Congress Child tax credit Paid Family Leave pro-family policy

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