The Perfect Enemy | Idaho view: Which is it, Idaho? Sanctimony or cynicism?
August 16, 2022

Idaho view: Which is it, Idaho? Sanctimony or cynicism?

Idaho view: Which is it, Idaho? Sanctimony or cynicism?  Times-News

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As long as Roe v. Wade remained the law of the land, Idaho’s political leadership could have it both ways.

It could indulge its sanctimony by voting pro-life.

Then it could cynically remain anti-child.

Now that bluff has been called.

By overturning a woman’s 50-year-old constitutional right to reproductive autonomy, the U.S. Supreme Court has activated the Gem State’s intended abortion ban — which presumably will bring hundreds of children into this world, most of them poor and many of them disabled.

Surely, Idaho’s Republican lawmakers will not abandon them.

Or will they?

Here’s the record so far:

Poverty — Nearly 1 in 8 Idaho children lives in poverty. Idaho’s child-poverty rate is the nation’s 35th highest. The state’s real estate boom has also given it the 19th least affordable housing rate.

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Teen birth rate — At 16 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19, Idaho has the nation’s 30th highest teen birth rate.

Child care — Idaho already had a shortage of affordable, quality child care before the COVID-19 pandemic sent that sector into a tailspin. More than two years ago, the Bipartisan Policy Center estimated the state needed services for nearly 75,000 children, but fell 18,000 short of meeting that demand.

There are pockets of this state described as child care deserts.

Federal child care subsidies for low-income families are unavailable for anyone who is not desperately impoverished.

Because of that, Idaho parents of working age are staying out of the work force, which is hurting the state’s economy by an estimated $479 million every year.

Early childhood education — Idaho is among a handful of states that refuses to spend any of its own money on early childhood education. It even went so far as to reject a $6 million-a-year, three-year federal early childhood education grant.

By the way, the Idaho Republican most associated with creating an all-day kindergarten program, Sen. Carl Crabtree, R-Grangeville, got labeled a Republican-in-name-only and was booted out of office in the GOP primary.

Public education funding — No state allocates less for the education of each of its children than the Gem State. Even with a robust budget increase this year and the potential for a citizens’ initiative adding $323 million to the effort, it won’t get the state out of the deep hole it’s been digging during the past 20 years.

Two years ago, the state reported 2,007 Idaho women underwent abortions — although 433 of them were performed out of state. Assuming the law works as intended, that would mean that each year nearly 1,600 more children will be born.

A state that means what it says about the sanctity of life would do something to help those families.

You would expect an expanded child tax credit to enable parents to raise their children.

If these women are going to return to work, they’re going to need child care subsidies — after the state does more to expand the number of child care centers.

A leadership that is pro-life would access every source of federal assistance available, from the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant program to the early childhood education grants.

It would expand Head Start.

And it would get serious about providing young people with accurate sexual education and access to contraception.

None of this will come cheaply.

Consider two examples.

The cost of educating those 1,600 children throughout 13 years of schooling will come to nearly $174 million.

And the cost of providing them with child care until they’re eligible for kindergarten would come to nearly $58 million.

Of course, those numbers rise every year with the birth rate.

Add to that the expense of providing nutrition, health care, housing and special services.

In other words, you can forget about indulging the GOP’s tax-cutting fetish. Those days are over.

In this post-Roe world, no politician — and no voter who supported their anti-abortion rights agenda — can turn away. This should be their concern.

This is their legacy.

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