Justice

No One in Power Actually Cares about Kids. Here's Why

January 17th 2015

By:
Trevor Reece

If you're annoyed with friends posting photos of their new babies on Facebook, here's where you should have some sympathy.

The cost of raising a child to the age of 18 will cost $245,000 for a middle class family, according to the Department of Agriculture. For lower income families, that cost is $100,000 less ($145,500). High-income families will pay roughly $455,000. That mirrors a recent trend where child care costs more than rent in half the states in the US. Even worse, that price tag doesn’t include the cost of college. The average annual tuition for a public college is $22,826.

These rising costs come at a time of drastic cuts to federal spending on children. The Urban Institute reports a one-two punch of decreased spending on children and a shrinking percentage of the federal budget allocated to children. This is a trend that is expected to continue through the next decade.

With the exception of health care, spending on children will decrease across the board over the next ten years. This is, in part, due to the rise in spending on adult entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Like most of Europe, we have an aging population and that shifts spending toward programs aimed at older people.

The burden is falling on states

Sixty-two percent of funding for children's services comes from states and local governments. This percentage will likely rise as federal spending declines. The problem is that many states and local governments are under extreme budgetary pressure.

What can be done?

Seeing these numbers, it is hard to not to feel resentment. It can paint a picture of the future being stripped for parts. But there is an alternative. If Millennials push lawmakers, they can make investing in children a priority for Congress. After all, Millennials will be the parents hurt most by cuts to children's services as decreased federal spending increases the costs shouldered by parents. In the past midterm elections, however, Millennials made up 12 percent of voter turnout, despite making up 36.4 percent of the eligible voting population.

Potential solutions are out there, like Republican Sen. Mike Lee’s child care tax credit. Lee refers to the credit as the “centerpiece” of his tax proposal and would offer families a credit of $2,500 per child under the age of 16.

Eventually, many of us are going to be the one posting annoying baby pictures and these cuts will directly affect the life of that adorable little baby. Someday you will have a stake in this. But for now, these cuts affect your nieces, nephews, godsons and daughters, or maybe just the kid of that guy you forgot to un-friend after your post-grad Facebook purge.