CORTES: Welcoming Back the Traditional, One-Income Family.


Good news on the cultural front is rare in 2020s America, so we should gleefully celebrate recent updates from the Census Bureau about the resurgence of two-parent families raising children.

A half-century ago, nearly 90 percent of American children lived with both married parents, but that number cratered from the 1960s onward. The number of children living with a divorced or never-married single parent tripled from only nine percent in 1960 to 28 percent in 2005.

But, suddenly the tide turns.

For the first time since the 1980s, over 70 percent of American kids live with both married parents again. The trend is too small and too new to claim victory, to be sure.

Nonetheless, it represents a positive and very welcome return to traditional structure.

The question from here, how do we strengthen and stabilize those families?

In a society that increasingly promotes toxic cultural rot, enabled by big business and its toady allies in the federal government, private institutions must flourish or the torch of Western Civilization will extinguish. No institution matters more than the family, and we need policies that will, once again, empower families to thrive.

Specifically, what is the agenda to return to an America where a family can comfortably exist on one income?

Before delving into the policy details, note that this goal is not some peculiar, unpopular wish of only religious traditionalists. In fact, studies widely support the notion that most Americans do not welcome the present structure of both parents working full time.

A Gallup poll found that the majority of women with children under 18 want to stay home with their children rather than work.

Even among women without children, the same survey reported that 39 percent of women prefer to be homemakers rather than working outside the home.

An earlier Forbes poll revealed that a stunning 84 percent of mothers identified the financial security to stay home with children as a goal. In that survey, one-third of working women expressed resentment toward their partner for not earning enough to make that aspiration a reality.

A more recent research study from American Compass found the goal of traditional family structure to be especially pronounced among working-class citizens, with 71 percent of them stating that they do not want both parents working full time.

Whichever movement and candidates present the workable roadmap to meet this goal will dominate American politics for decades.

So, here are the four steps to empower families to live on one income again:

  1. Education Choice – Far too many American families are trapped in failing, monopolistic government schools. Many of these schools indoctrinate children with toxic narratives like the anti-white bigotry of Critical Race Theory and the scandalous lies of the New York Times’ 1619 Project. Let’s free these families to make the same choices that wealthy families can make and choose private or religious schools. Such options will build stronger families and encourage parents to have more babies and stay home to raise them, knowing that tax dollars will fund families instead of corrupt school systems and unions.
  2. Financial Incentives – America should learn from Hungary, a country with a formerly plunging birthrate that now sees a material uptick in childbirths through loans and incentives for families. A married woman can take out a loan of about $30,000 that is gradually forgiven with children and totally erased at the third child. A married woman with four children is tax-exempt for life. Such practices could work well in the United States too. In addition, the tax deduction for children should be far larger. The current expansion of the refundable credit to $3,600 per child is a welcome move, but not nearly aggressive enough, especially in light of the recent Biden inflation spike that makes childrearing more costly than ever. The deduction should be at least $10,000 per child.
  3. Trade/Offshoring Protection – We populist nationalists need to embrace the agenda of protection and reject the establishment GOP notion that economic protectionism is some dirty word. President Trump showed the power of properly deployed tariffs in deterring Chinese economic exploitation of American workers. Before the CCP Virus, 2019 was the best year in history for American workers, with 6.8 percent overall wage growth, and even higher pay raises for working-class and minority citizens. Let’s protect American industries from crass mercantilist abuses, thereby raising wages to support families on one income. In addition, our tax code can be changed to materially punish firms that offshore production, especially by taxing overseas revenues of such firms, regardless of whether the proceeds are repatriated.
  4. Immigration Control – America today has a foreign-born percentage of population at nearly 14 percent, the highest in a century, and very near the all-time high of 14.8 percent from the late 1800s. But back then, America had no government social safety net at all, it was literally sink-or-swim for new migrants. In addition, assimilation was expected and, frankly, enforced. Neither scenario exists today. In California, fully 55 percent of immigrant-headed households receive some form of public assistance, per the LA Times. It might surprise many Americans to learn that migrant-heavy California has the highest poverty rate of any state in America. It’s time to get serious and totally eliminate illegal immigration, and to limit and reform even legal migration. Right now, a moratorium is in order, a pause. Let America heal from the pandemic and the lockdowns – physically, financially, socially – and then let’s restart limited legal migration with much better merit-based filters to select new immigrants who will add to our prosperity and love our ideals. Such migration protection will vastly improve the lives and prosperity of citizens looking to build families.

GK Chesterton observed that “the most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.”

If we pursue the right mix of populist economic nationalism, the America First movement can pave the way for stronger “extraordinary” American families thriving on one income.

Steve Cortes

Steve Cortes was a Senior Advisor for Strategy at the Trump 2020 campaign.

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