The World and Everything in It: February 7, 2024
On Washington Wednesday, a failed Senate border bill and a bipartisan House tax bill; on World Tour, news from Namibia, Chile, El Salvador, and China; and neighbors in the West Bank struggle to rein in violence. Plus, Janie B. Cheaney on the value of children and the Wednesday morning news
PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us. My name is Chris Jaramillo. My wife, three kids and I attend Vista Grande Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. But today I’m listening from the foothills of the Himalayas where my fellow travelers and I would really appreciate your prayers for our journey and witness over the next week. I hope you enjoy today's program.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! A bipartisan tax bill passes the US House, but a border bill in the Senate looks to be dead.
AUDIO: It didn't work. because that bill in the end would have probably done more harm than good
NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll talk about that today on Washington Wednesday. Also, WORLD Tour. And the challenge of being a good neighbor as tensions rise between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank.
AUDIO: There are those that are sort of taking the law into their own hands.
And WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney on counting the cost of bringing up a child.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, February 7th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: It’s time for the news with Kent Covington.
AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 214 and the nays are 216. The resolution is not adopted
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Mayorkas impeachment vote » And with that, an effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fell short in the House last night.
GOP lawmakers charged him “breach of public trust” for refusing to enforce immigration laws.
But a few Republicans voted “no” on the measure, just enough to defeat it. Congressman Tom McClintock was one of them.
MCCLINTOCK: Secretary Mayorkas is guilty of maladministration of our immigration laws on a cosmic scale. But we know that’s not grounds for impeachment because our founders specifically rejected it.
All Democratic members voted no, calling the impeachment push a political stunt.
Blinken Middle East » Secretary of State Tony Blinken is set to meet with Israeli leaders today about a proposed cease-fire in Gaza. Blinken spoke to reporters in Qatar Tuesday after meeting with top officials from Qatar and Egypt.
BLINKEN: We put forward a serious proposal that was aimed at not just repeating the previous agreement but expanding it. Hamas responded tonight.
Blinken said he was reviewing that response and preparing to discuss it with Israel.
Amid his fifth visit to the Middle East since the start of the Israel-Hamas war the secretary is also hoping to tamp down tensions in the region even as the U.S. military responds to a deadly drone strike against U.S. troops.
BLINKEN: We don’t want the conflict to escalate. We’ll do everything we can to prevent that. But at the same time, we will defend our personnel.
The United States has carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militias after a drone attack that killed three U.S. soldiers.
Border bill » President Biden says Donald Trump is to blame for the apparent demise of the newly unveiled Senate border bill, which would also fund aid to Ukraine.
Standing behind a lectern at the White House Tuesday, the president said Trump pressured GOP lawmakers to kill the legislation.
BIDEN: And it looks like they’re caving. Frankly, they owe it to the American people to show some spine and do what they know to be right.
Republicans say they roundly rejected it because it's terrible legislation, in their view that would not solve the border crisis. And Speaker Mike Johnson says provisions within the bill, such as one that would provide work permits to many migrants would actually incentivize more illegal immigration.
And with regard to Biden blaming Republicans for not fixing the border crisis Senator Tim Scott said, nice try.
SCOTT: President Biden undid the successful measures that Trump put in place. If you can undo them, you can put them back again.
The Senate bill is the product of bipartisan talks, but it appears most Republicans in the Senate oppose it.
Court rules Trump not immune » Donald Trump’s legal team is planning to take a federal appeals court ruling to the Supreme Court. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER: Tuesday’s appeals court ruling stems from charges by the Justice Department accusing Trump of trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election citing his actions surrounding the Capitol riot.
His lawyers argued that since he was still in office at the time of those events, he is shielded by presidential immunity.
But a three-judge panel said once Trump left office, he became an ordinary citizen with no special immunity.
Trump’s legal team responded, saying, “If immunity’s not granted to a president, every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposite party.”
And his attorneys will petition the Supreme Court to take up the case.
For WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
SOUND: [Tractors on Highway]
EU farmers » Tractors blocked traffic across Europe yesterday.
That as farmers continue roadblock protests in countries like the Netherlands, Spain, Bulgaria, and Italy.
The farmers say it’s getting harder to make ends meet with rising production costs and greater competition from cheap foreign imports.
One woman said out-of-control EU regulations are forcing her to spend more time on paperwork than actual farming.
FARMER: We don’t want to lose our time to make more papers. Just – we are farmers. We are the people that take care of the soil. Take care of the animals. Take care of your health. Your food.
The EU agreed yesterday to shelve an anti-pesticide proposal that protesters said would have piled even more production costs on the shoulders of farmers.
MUSIC: [Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue]
Toby Keith obit » Country singer/songwriter Toby Keith has died. He was the writer of hit songs like the post-9/11 anthem, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.”
MUSIC: [Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue]
The singer was also known for hits like “Should Have Been a Cowboy,” and “He Ain’t Worth Missing.”
MUSIC: [He Ain’t Worth Missing]
In 2022, Keith announced that he was battling stomach cancer but continued playing shows throughout his treatments all the way up until December.
A statement on his website said Keith passed peacefully, surrounded by family.
He was 62 years old.
King Charles cancer caught early » Meantime, in London, officials sound optimistic about the prognosis for King Charles III who began treatment this week for cancer. Buckingham Palace did not immediately say what type.
But oncologist, Dr. Patricia Price with Imperial College London said Tuesday,
PRICE: The main thing is it sounds as though he didn’t have symptoms from this cancer, so it’s been caught early. And all the messages coming out are very reassuring.
The 75-year-old monarch has suspended all public appearances, but he’s still handling all other duties.
I'm Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: Border reform and taxes on Washington Wednesday. Plus, World Tour.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Wednesday the 7th of February, 2024. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s time for Washington Wednesday. Today, a conversation with a tax policy expert about a bipartisan tax bill from the U.S. House.
But first, Senate Republicans say it’s back to square one after reviewing the text of a bill with immigration reform tied to emergency aid for Ukraine and Israel.
Senator Ron Johnson speaking yesterday.
RON JOHNSON: It didn't work because that bill in the end would have probably done more harm than good by normalizing a flow of illegal immigration and undermining a future president who actually wants to secure the border.
REICHARD: Many in the media are saying that the Senate has been swayed by former president Donald Trump’s pressure to kill the bill, but what’s the rest of the story?
Joining us now to talk about it is politics reporter Carolina Lumetta. So Carolina, what’s going on here?
CAROLINA LUMETTA: Well, a lot of very high emotions on Capitol Hill today, Mary. The border security deal is effectively back to the drawing board. Senate Republicans yesterday came out strongly against it promising to tank even a procedural vote to bring it up for a debate. Now, a coalition of three negotiators have spent months at Congress's request to draft a deal here. Republicans say they never promised to accept any deal and they have issues with the actual policies involved along with the timeline that they've had to approve this. Democrats say the hold up is simply a political play and they accuse former President Donald Trump of interference after he said he disapproved of the compromise.
REICHARD: So setting aside the Trump factor, what are Republican Senators saying about why they aren’t supporting the bill?
So there are a few big issues here. Firstly is that it ties the border legislation to both Ukraine and Israel aid. Republicans do not want a blank check to Ukraine included in any border deal. Democrats don't want border legislation tied to Israel aid. And it's all lumped in one big package. On the policy side of things, yesterday, several senators were saying this is not focused enough on border security. It deals a lot more with immigration reform, and they say now's not the time for that, we need to shut down the border. Here's what Senator Mike Lee said yesterday.
MIKE LEE: And perhaps most importantly, we should have included border security metrics so that Ukraine aid and release would be linked to the achievement of certain sustained security benchmarks. Had we done that I think would be an altogether different position.
REICHARD: What else did Republicans want that they didn’t get?
LUMETTA: Well, the big thing for them is it does not actually shut down the border. It does not include any construction for continuing work on the border wall. It also does not end "catch and release" that the Biden administration has allowed. It switches the situation to more of a catch and detain situation and expands the use of what they call alternatives to detention. This could be ankle monitors or cell phones that you use to check in with your immigration lawyer or your judge. But it does not catch and deport which is what Republicans wanted. They want policy that will disincentivize people from coming to the border at all. And they say catch and detain is not going to help with that.
REICHARD: So it sounds like Republicans are saying this deal would cement bad immigration policy. What about Democrats? What are they saying?
LUMETTA: Well, that's another important thing to note. Plenty of Democrats and immigration advocates also do not love this bill. They think it's far too harsh, and they're upset at President Biden for even being willing to negotiate on this issue. Another provision in the bill is that it would give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to shut down the border entirely, with an exception for unaccompanied minors, if crossings surpass 5,000 a day for a week. Now for context, the average crossings in December were over 9000 per day, and the low back in June was about 3,300. This also does not provide any text for giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, which has been another big priority for Democrats. So there's plenty of ill will on both sides of the aisle here.
REICHARD: So what are the options?
LUMETTA: So either they scrap the bill and start over from scratch or they give the chamber a few extra days or weeks to read through the text and work out amendments with the House. But any bill the House likes is likely doomed in the Senate and vice versa. They could also split it up into one bill for border security. One bill for Israel, one bill for Ukraine. That's going to take a lot more time that negotiators say that those countries might not have.
REICHARD: Carolina Lumetta covers politics for World’s Washington bureau. Carolina, thanks.
LUMETTA: Thanks, Mary.
EICHER: Well, on to another generally contentious issue: taxes.
Americans don’t agree on many things these days, but a bipartisan House majority recently passed a tax bill. It would expand child tax credits and give businesses some tax breaks.
REICHARD: Joining us to talk about it is Erica York. She’s a Senior Economist and Research Director with the Tax Foundation’s Center for Federal Tax Policy.
Erica, thanks for joining us!
ERICA YORK: Thanks, Mary. Good to be here with you.
REICHARD: Well, as we mentioned, there are two elements in this bill getting a lot of attention. The first is child tax credits. What would this bill do about those?
YORK: The bill makes three specific changes to the child tax credit, generally retaining the same structure but increasing the amounts that certain families will see. So one thing that it does is provide an inflation adjustment to the maximum credit. Right now that maximum is set at $2,000. And that's a fixed amount. So moving forward for 2024 and 2025, that max would be adjusted for inflation. The child tax credit right now is a partially refundable credit. That means that to the extent that the credit exceeds what someone owes in taxes, they can receive part of it above and beyond their tax liability. But this bill would accelerate that inflation adjustment so that the refundable amount of the credit would match that inflation adjusted max. So there would no longer be a difference between the maximum credit and the cap on refundability. And then the third big change is that right now, that refundable portion of the credit phases in with the taxpayers earned income starting, when they earn more than $2,500, it phases in at a 15% rate. This change would, say for each child you have, it increases at that 15% rate. So say you have two children, it would increase 30%, you would see a 30% phase in. So essentially, it gets the full benefit to families with multiple children faster than they would see under current law.
EICHER: Well, another general element of this bill is a set of provisions that change how businesses deduct certain expenses, from their taxes, anything stand out to you in those proposed changes?
YORK: Yeah, these are three changes that were put in place by that 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and they relate mainly to how businesses recognize the cost that they make for investment. So if a business buys a new machine, or if a business pays a scientist for research and development, it's a question of when do they get to deduct that payment on their tax return. Under an ideal tax system, they would deduct it immediately to match the expense that they actually incur in real life. But because of some accounting rules, sometimes the tax system delays those deductions. So to the extent that we accelerate those deductions, allow that 100% deduction up front, which is what this bill is doing temporarily, that provides a better incentive to invest in the U.S. economy. Unfortunately, what we're seeing today is a lot of uncertainty. So this bill changes these provisions retroactively, sometimes all the way back to 2022 for the R&D provisions, and it only puts the full deductions in place through 2025. So at the end of next year, businesses are still going to be sitting there not really sure about what the tax treatment is moving forward.
REICHARD: What does it mean for Congress that many of the bill’s provisions are set to expire in 2025?
YORK: It means that next year is going to be a huge year for tax policymaking. That aligns the expirations of what we're talking about now with some broader expirations that are already scheduled to take place at the end of next year. And that's most of the changes that the 2017 law made to individual income taxes. So if you'll recall that, that law doubled the standard deduction, reduced tax rates, widened brackets, lots and lots of changes to virtually every aspect of the individual income tax code; those expire at the end of next year, too. So likely what Congress is thinking and providing this temporary extension is, well, next year, we're already going to have to deal with a lot of big tax policy questions, we might as well put it all on the table. And next year will be the big tax showdown when it comes to these business deductions, when it comes to the structure of the individual income tax code. All of that will be up for debate again next year.
EICHER: Erica, what would you say is the bottom line for taxpayers if this bill passes, and then Congress struggles to resolve the bigger debate next year?
YORK: If this bill passes, most taxpayers would just see small changes, because as far as individual tax changes here, we're talking about relatively small changes to inflation adjustments on the child tax credit and its phase in. The big implications for taxpayers would happen next year. So say we're in a world where all of the tax cuts expire after the end of 2025, then come January 2026, basically every American wakes up and faces a higher tax bill. Now, I don't think that's a likely outcome. I don't think we're going to see wholesale expiration, but I do think we're going to see a very extended and maybe painful debate amongst lawmakers. Of course, it depends who occupies the White House, who's in majority in Congress, how that shakes out will have major implications for taxpayers and their individual financial situations because it affects how much they'll owe in taxes.
REICHARD: Erica York is senior economist and Research Director with the Tax Foundation. Erica, thanks so much for your time today.
YORK: Thank you, Mary.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: WORLD Tour with our reporter in Africa, Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Namibia’s new leader — We start today in Namibia, where the vice president has stepped in as interim leader after the country’s president died Sunday.
Hage Geingob was an anti-apartheid activist who first served as Namibia’s founding prime minister and the third president after independence in 1990. Geingob helped to build what is now one of Africa’s more stable democracies.
The 82-year-old was receiving treatment for cancer when he died.
Geingob was wrapping up his second and final term ahead of elections slated for November.
Vice President Nangolo Mbumba will complete Geingob’s presidential term.
MBUMBA: During this difficult period of mourning, I urge all Namibians to remain united and to keep the bereaved family, the bereaved Geingob family and clan in our prayers.
Mbumba will remain in office until a new administration is sworn in in March next year.
AUDIO: [Fire response]
Chile wildfires — Over in Chile, firefighters are battling against high winds to quell forest fires that have razed communities in the central and southern parts of the country.
Authorities tracked more than 160 active flames on Sunday. The blazes had burned through more than 19,000 acres of forest and urban areas.
The fires have killed about 123 people. Hundreds of others remain missing.
Some residents have started clearing out debris from what’s left of their homes.
In the coastal resort city of Viña del Mar, this resident says the fire killed his neighbors and destroyed his parents’ and sister’s houses.
RESIDENT: [Speaking Spanish]
Chilean President Gabriel Boric says here that a curfew will remain in place as part of a larger state of emergency to cope with the crisis.
Chileans observed two days of mourning that ended yesterday.
AUDIO: [Cheering crowd]
El Salvador election — We leave southern America to head toward central America, where Salvadorans have overwhelmingly voted for their president to stay in office for another term.
El Salvador’s incumbent President Nayib Bukele won 83 percent of the vote with a majority of ballots counted.
His New Ideas party is also expected to score a sweeping majority of seats in the country’s legislative body.
Bukele’s victory was widely expected with polls showing voters planned to reward him for his hard-handed crackdown on criminal gangs.
His administration suspended civil liberties to arrest more than 76,000 people without charges—a move that drew international criticism.
He admitted the police arrested some innocent citizens during the crackdown, but defended the move as necessary. Bukele also faced accusations of detaining union organizers and political opponents without reasonable cause.
BUKELE: [Speaking Spanish]
Bukele describes the victory as historic with a single party decimating all opposition.
AUDIO: [Press conference]
China death sentence — We close today in China where authorities dished out a suspended death sentence to a Chinese-Australian writer.
A court in Beijing on Monday found Yang Jun guilty of espionage.
WANG: [Speaking Mandarin]
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin says here that Yang received a suspended two-year sentence. Authorities also seized all of his personal property.
China usually commutes such suspended sentences to life imprisonment.
Yang had worked as a diplomat and state security agent in China before … becoming an Australian citizen in 2002. Chinese authorities detained him in 2019.
Yang has denied the charges.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong called the verdict appalling.
WONG: Australia will not relent in our advocacy for justice for Dr Yang's interests and wellbeing, including appropriate medical treatment and we will continue to provide consular assistance to him and his family.
That’s it for today’s WORLD Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
NICK EICHER, HOST: You know the saying: A brother in need is a brother indeed.
We have a story of a perfectly named chap by the name of Daniel Fairbrother who set out to help a sick friend by agreeing to run a marathon.
DANIEL FAIRBROTHER: I promised him last year that I would take on a pretty spectacular task in the hopes of raising lots of money for diabetes UK.
Fairbrother went to great lengths training. He did it with a refrigerator strapped to his back. He did attract attention, especially from the police who had questions.
FAIRBROTHER: I reassured them I could, it could explain anything, nothing untoward was happening. They wished me all the best after I put their nerves at ease.
Maybe this’ll catch on. Fitness training protein shakes can be pretty nasty without refrigeration.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, February 7th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Today on Concurrently: The News Coach Podcast, Kelsey Reed and Jonathan Boes explore the generational divide. Driven as it is by fast-growing technology and cultural attitudes toward old age—is there a way to bridge the gap? Here’s a preview:
BOES: I think we'll spend a lot of time talking about the ways that younger people need to accommodate the older people, which is huge, and is probably most of it, in my opinion. But I think also, there can be a fatalistic sort of acceptance among older people that they will just never understand the new or the young, you know, when when older people make an effort to relationally connect, and there is that reciprocal effort by the younger, there can be a lot more meaningful connection than might be assumed.
REED: There's this false sense that the older generation kind of has of themselves at times that they have become irrelevant in the age of technology, that they have nothing to say to it, that they have nothing that they can do with it, that it's just too hard. It is so vital that the older generation recognize their profound impact on us and on our children. Grandparent, you are so vital to the process of the rising generation, you connect them to the faithfulness of the Lord in the past, you can look at what has happened and you can see that the sky didn't fall. There seems to be so many threats that are looming, and yet you have seen that the Lord sustains and keeps you, and we need to hear that. Our children need to hear that.
EICHER: You can hear the entire episode of Concurrently today wherever you get your podcasts. And find out more at concurrentlypodcast.com.
REICHARD: Coming next on The World and Everything in It: A different sort of casualty of war. Israel is understandably preoccupied with a war against Hamas and missile attacks on multiple fronts.
At the same time, the country is dealing with another set of problems in the West Bank: settler violence against Palestinians.
EICHER: WORLD’s Jill Nelson visited Israel in December. She brings us this story of Palestinian Bedouins in the West Bank trying to be good neighbors.
JILL NELSON: The Abu Kabeyta family lives in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills. It’s a rural community with farms and livestock, where Jews and Palestinians live together.
But this Palestinian Bedouin family distrusts their neighbors. And now they fear for their lives.
Mustafa Abu Kabeyta is one of seven brothers who lives on this homestead. He points down the hill and across the road to where the trouble began. He tells the family’s story in Hebrew and one of his friends agrees to interpret.
ABU KABEYTA: There’s a farm there, Talia farms, we always have trouble with them because of these lands. The Israeli state tells them this is their land, don't touch their land. But they are criminals.
According to Israeli courts, this land belongs to the Abu Kabeyta family. They’ve lived here for generations. But Abu Kabeyta said the Jewish owners of Talia Farms don’t accept the court’s decision.
Talia Farms is a settler outpost. It’s one of more than 100 Jewish settlements that are not approved by the Israeli government and violate international law.
Most settlers want to prevent a future Palestinian state in the West Bank. They believe the land should only belong to Jews, so they are slowly taking over Palestinian property. Close to one-third of the settlers are ultra-Orthodox.
Some settlers turn to violence. Abu Kabeyta says his family usually relies on the Israeli army for protection when they cross border checkpoints to go to work.
ABU KABEYTA: When we go to the checkpoint, we need to have the army go together with us. Even officers come and they go together with us to protect us from the settlers.
But since the Oct. 7th Hamas massacre, some settlers have become far more aggressive. They want Palestinians, including nomadic Bedouins, to leave. They show up at their property with weapons, and their tactics are working. More than 1,000 Palestinians have fled their homes since October.
The recent escalation with Abu Kabeyta’s neighbors began with a sad story. Hamas killed one of the women from Talia Farms on Oct. 7th. Her two adult sons became angry and visited the Abu Kabeyta family one day in late October.
They damaged some of their property. Abu Kabeyta says they pushed one of his older brothers who is in his 60s and threatened the women.
ABU KABEYTA: This is their opportunity. Because of the war, there’s no law. There’s no courts, so they just do whatever they want. They just take over.
Three of the Bedouin brothers pushed back. The settlers called local authorities who placed the brothers under administrative arrest in early November. Then released them seven weeks later.
Jacob Paz says this isn’t an isolated case. He’s the friend who was the interpreter for Abu Kabeyta. He’s also a Jewish Israeli Christian and a human rights lawyer. WORLD agreed not to use his real name because of the escalating violence.
PAZ: There are those that are taking the law into their own hands. People acting out of maybe anger, revenge, of things that Hamas has done against Jews but now people are acting privately against the Arab population here in the area.
More than half a million Israeli settlers live among 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank. Israel governs 60 percent of the territory. The Palestinian Authority governs the rest.
Paz and Abu Kabeyta live in the area governed by Israel. And Paz said it’s increasingly becoming the “wild west.”
PAZ: Many times they will put coverings on their face so they’re not recognized and they will act violently and destroy property against the really innocent Arab population.
This has created a climate of fear and loneliness. One Christian said she’s experienced an increase in phone calls from Palestinian neighbors since the Hamas attacks. WORLD agreed not to use her name to keep her and her neighbors safe.
She said her neighbors have a simple request.
WOMAN: They called us one day and said, “Can you come over as friends because we miss being in touch with people. And a settler came to destroy us. Just come over. That’s what we need. We need your friendship.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done little to curb settler violence and stop the expansion of settlements.
The five Christians I spoke to in the West Bank said the army is too preoccupied with the war to address the violence. And Paz said local authorities are looking the other way.
PAZ: The officials, the army and the police will, more than before, turn sort of a blind eye and there’s sort of a complacency towards maybe violence of Jewish extremists.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on settlers charged with violence. Now the U.S. government can impose financial penalties and visa bans on those responsible. The visa ban also includes Palestinians who have attacked Israelis.
Israeli forces say Palestinian terrorist activity has also increased in the West Bank.
Abu Kabeyta said he does not support any terrorist groups and just wants to live in peace. And that’s challenging with closed borders, limited work, and threats from neighbors.
ABU KABEYTA: He says we are against all violence. We pray that everything will be calm again, that we can continue working like we did before together. When we see soldiers we bring them coffee. We are all neighbors here together.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Jill Nelson in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 7th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up next: how much does it cost to raise a child? WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney says, it depends.
JANIE B. CHEANEY: Our two babies were cheap. We were able to work with both obstetricians on a cash basis, to deliver safely without extreme measures, and to get by with the shortest possible hospital stay. My son was considerate enough to wait until after midnight, thus saving the charge for a whole day. Both babies were a healthy weight, nursed well, and developed no serious health problems throughout infancy and early childhood. We budgeted our household expenses so we could get by on one income and, for many years, one car.
We began home schooling in the primary grades, making heavy use of the public library and saving on curriculum. As the kids got older we allowed one extra-curricular activity at a time for each of them. After graduation our daughter attended College of the Ozarks tuition-free. Our son decided against college and eventually started his own business. After some missteps, they are successful adults: married with children and financially stable.
How much did it cost to raise them? I would say, practically nothing.
That’s not what the U.S. Government would say. A graphic published by the Department of Agriculture in 2017 puts the average cost to raise one child at over $233,000, figuring in food, clothing, housing, healthcare, child care, and education. That’s lower in rural areas, but $193,000 to bring up a country boy or girl still seems high. What’s the reality?
Stephanie H. Murray is currently raising two children in the UK. She can afford a part-time freelance writing career because of public healthcare, cash stipends for parents, and subsidized early education (including full-time preschool at age 4). She believes raising children in the U.S. would be a financial, emotional, and physical strain, and she’s probably right—for two parents working full-time in the urban northeast, making payments on a $500,000 house, with private medical insurance, private schools, and enrichment activities needed to get into the Ivies.
In a recent Atlantic article, Murray cites two other concerns that make parenting in the U.S. too scary: gun violence and “the all-consuming nature of American child-rearing”—that is, the peer pressure of helicopter parents. That pressure, like high-dollar rents, may be more intense in urban areas, but every good parent wants their children to “succeed,” however they define success.
Costs are going up, children do get sick, and it’s increasingly difficult for a young family to get into adequate housing. Even car-seat mandates can make more than two children unaffordable, because a third child doesn’t just mean an extra seat—it means a bigger car. How many would-be parents are looking at the cost-benefit analysis and opting for Caribbean vacations instead?
Federal and state governments could encourage parents with practical help, such as stipends, tax credits, or educational savings funds. But when children are a personal decision rather than a gift of God, raising them often becomes a project to justify that decision. Estimates about the cost of raising children became more popular after Roe v. Wade—is that a coincidence? When did we start talking about what they cost instead of what they’re worth?
I’m Janie B. Cheaney.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: U.S. airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias. Are they enough to deter further attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East?
And, a homeschool robotics team, how programs like these can teach students more than the scientific method. That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio. WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
The Bible records that Jesus prayed in Gethsemane before his betrayal and arrest: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” —Mark 14:36
Go now in grace and peace.
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