It was not a good look for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand when, on the Detroit debate stage, she challenged fellow presidential candidate, Joe Biden regarding his position, as a US Senator back in 1981, against expanding a childcare tax credit to families who could afford for one parent to stay at home. Senator Gillibrand’s ammunition was an opinion piece he wrote for the Daily Times of Salisbury Maryland — 38 years ago. “I do not believe,” wrote then-Senator Biden, “that the federal government should be a party to a system which encourages couples to place their children in day-care centers in order to acquire material possessions that go far beyond any family basic necessities.”
To be clear, Mr. Biden was concerned that wealthier families should not get government assistance for childcare. He argued that point on the Senate floor and was the sole vote against expanding a proposed childcare tax credit to benefit couples making more than $30,000 per year ($88,000 in today’s dollars).
Senator Gillibrand pointed out to Vice President Biden that she had given birth while serving in the house and wanted to know: “Am I, serving in Congress resulting in the deterioration of the family because I had access to quality affordable daycare?”
Over the past 40 years, Congress has made the tax code more generous to working parents and more two-parent households are two-income households today. As a presidential candidate Mr. Biden now says every parent needing daycare should receive an $8000 tax credit to help with the cost.
Joe Biden was actually right back in the ‘80s when he warned of a “cancer of materialism” that was eating away at the family. It’s gotten much worse.
Psychoanalyst Erica Komisar is the author of Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. In a recent Wall Street Journal piece, she correctly insists that the young Joe Biden was right.