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Luke Messer Senate

Washington Examiner: Republicans propose tax credit for expecting mothers. Good.

If Reps. Luke Messer of Indiana and Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina get their way, expecting mothers could expect a check for their unborn baby. The pair of Republicans have introduced legislation that would expand the child tax credit to help cover the costs of pregnancy.

This comes shortly after Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida managed to double the credit to $2,000 in the Republican tax bill. If passed, the expectant mothers tax credit would effectively double that number.

“Expanding this tax credit will provide more resources to expectant mothers and help with the growing costs of having a child,” Messer said in a statement. “I was raised by a single mom who worked full-time at a factory. This kind of credit would have made a big difference for us, and it will make a big difference for many other Hoosier families.”

And Messer isn’t wrong. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, in 2017 the average birth cost $3,500. Because it would be retroactive, parents could claim the expectant mother credit along with the existing child tax credit which at a combined $4,000 would more than offset the cost of the delivery.

“It’s simple: expectant mothers and fathers deserve the same financial assistance and tax credit benefits to begin planning for a new child as parents blessed with children already born,” Meadows said in a statement. “The work, care, and costs associated with motherhood begin long before a child is born, and this legislation gives moms and their families an opportunity for a better start.”

It is also an opportunity for Republicans to show some consistency. Conservatives focus on limiting abortions. This legislation would help mothers keep the kid.

This comes at a moment when the United States is experiencing what economist Lyman Stone describes as “the great baby bust.” Forecasts place fertility in 2017 somewhere around 1.77, or about one-quarter of a child below the replacement rate. According to Stone’s analysis, it’s the third most rapid fertility decline behind the drop that came after World War I.

Republicans want to reduce the number of abortions. The country needs to increase its fertility rate. A tax credit for expectant mothers seems like a good start.