Jewish World Review April 27, 1999 /11 Iyar 5759
The president's pro-parent claptrap
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PRESIDENT CLINTON WANTS TO DO SOMETHING for parents ---- turn them into litigants.
The president proposes making parents a protected class (along with minorities, women, the aged and disabled) under federal civil rights law, enabling them to sue for job discrimination.
Then, every time a mother or father isn't hired or loses a promotion and there's the least hint of bias (like a supervisor's disparaging remark about "rug rats''), the victim can go to court.
This will further clog the judicial system, enrich trial lawyers (one of Clinton's favorite constituencies) and make it even harder to discipline or discharge an employee for cause.
Since the 1991 Civil Rights Act, which permits compensatory damages, the number of employment discrimination cases filed each year has exploded from 10,000 to 25,000.
To bolster its proposal, the White House is reported to have compiled a list of nearly a dozen instances of alleged job bias against parents. Really, almost a dozen in a workforce of 100 million? Crisis proportions, to say the least.
But with a presidential election approaching, reality takes a back seat to politics. Democrats are keen to demonstrate their devotion to soccer moms.
The scheme also is in keeping with Bill and Hillary's vision of the family - both parents employed, children in day care. It dovetails with Al Gore's urban sprawl initiative to get working parents out of traffic jams so they can spend a few more minutes of quality time with their children each day.
If the president were serious about helping parents, there is no shortage of urgently needed reforms he could get behind.
The marriage penalty is a matter of gross unfairness for the 21 million couples who, on average, pay $1,400 more a year in federal taxes than they would if they were single. Clinton pays lip service to the need for change but can't quite bring himself to back legislation to end the marriage penalty.
Then there's the middle-class tax cut the president promised us in 1992. (We're dropping it over Belgrade.) According to the Tax Foundation, the median two-income family paid 38.2 percent of its earnings in federal, state and local taxes in 1998, up from 37.3 percent in 1996.
Sadly, Clinton can't reduce the burden on financially strapped families, not as long as Social Security needs fixing, there are folks to be bombed in the Balkans and a cure has yet to be found for the common cold.
Last week, the Children's Scholarship Fund announced that there were 1.25 million applicants for its 40,000 tuition grants for low-income families. In New York City, 33 percent of eligible families applied.
Applicants weren't looking for a free lunch. Scholarship families must pay at least $1,000 a year for private schooling.
These numbers suggest how desperate urban families are to escape public schools. Taking his cue from teachers' unions, Clinton is an implacable foe of school choice.
Parents and their children are increasingly victimized by agencies of the state. In 1996, at a school in East Stroudsburg, Pa., 59 girls were marched to the nurse's office and subjected to genital examinations without their families' knowledge.
Schools regularly pry into family affairs by asking for sensitive information on psychological surveys. Students are subjected to explicit sex education and plied with condoms, frequently over parental protests.
In 1996, Colorado had a ballot amendment that recognized the right of families "to direct and control the upbringing, education, values and discipline of their children.''
Following a campaign of fear and distortion by opponents (the measure was misrepresented as an invitation to child abuse), the amendment lost. A similar law was enacted in Texas the next year.
Our family-friendly president quietly opposed the Colorado initiative.
What do struggling families need more: a tax break, school choice, laws protecting their right to raise their children according to their values - or victim status and a one-in-a-million chance to strike it rich in the litigation lottery?
But our president, who never worked in the private sector, whose child was raised by a succession of nannies and whose commitment to family values is notorious, knows what's best for
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©1999, Creators Syndicate