In his column this week, E.J. Dionne said conservatives prioritize market imperatives over family imperatives, suggesting that they have contributed to the major decrease in the share of children who have a stay-at-home parent. Many social conservatives would hear this and tend to think, Dionne has it all wrong: Does he not know that the movement’s policy wonks (here and here and here) want to triple or quintuple the child-tax credit?
While I wish Dionne had discussed the merits of expanding the child-tax credit, he is not the only member of our journalist-politician class who holds the credit in minimum high regards. Consider Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee. Romney’s recent comments suggest that he not only opposes expanding the child-tax credit, as socially conservative policy wonks support, he wants to eliminate the credit altogether. (Romney’s tax plan does not mention the child-tax credit specifically). According to the Associated Press, Romney told a voter at a rally in Pennsylvania this week that ending the child-tax credit might be a good idea:
When another person at the table, Kelly Wassel, expressed concern that the $500 per-child tax credit might expire at the end of the year, his response sounded like he might allow that to happen. “I would actually like to reshape the entire tax system, all right, that is what I’d like to do, and to simplify the system as opposed to all these little … baby steps,” as she nodded without protest.
The odds of eliminating the child-tax credit strike me as slim, as the credit is a huge subsidy to the middle class. But Romney’s exchange this week should be a sober reminder to social conservatives: While the other wings of the Republican Party generally support the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade and banning gay marriage, they do not support at this time other key planks of the socially conservative agenda.