The United States of America has long been in dire need of some very fundamental improvements. The legacy of the Reagan years—with their destructive aversion to the social safety net and their myth of trickle-down economics—has hung heavy over this country for years, obstructing the path to programs that could help drastically improve the lives of many Americans. President Biden is going to remedy that.
The White House is advocating the American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion spending package aimed at bolstering child care assistance, providing universal preschool and two free years of community college, expanding family and medical leave, and boosting tax credits for families with children.
Not only will the plan ease the financial burdens foisted on to so many hardworking American families, it will strengthen the economy and nation as a whole, ensuring that more Americans are well-educated, contributing members of society ready to face the challenges and adversaries of the coming century.
As expected, the blowhard talking heads at Fox News—who at this point seem utterly devoted to the idea of ensuring a weaker, poorer America for the benefit of the ultra-wealthy elite—are opposed to Biden’s spending bills. Today, Fox’s Charles Payne launched a muddled attack against the American Family Plan with an ill-informed reference to the German legend of Faust, a man who sold his soul to a demon in return for knowledge and hedonistic delights.
“A lot of young women out there, a lot of poor young women out there, are going to have to make a choice, a Faustian choice, between taking large government payments, monthly checks, for having children—so to be incentivized to have a lot more children, perhaps not get married—or enter the workforce and make actually less money,” said Payne.
Ignoring the fact that the expression is usually “Faustian bargain” not “Faustian choice,” it’s not clear what Payne is even trying to say. Who is the demon Mephistopheles in this scenario? Presumably, it’s President Biden, but if he is providing family assistance as his part of the bargain, in what way is he demanding these women’s souls? This bill simply gives women the freedom to pursue families if that’s what they want with their lives, it doesn’t make any satanic demands of them.
“And if you don’t think that’s a tough struggle, a big deal, put yourself in that position,” added Payne, a millionaire who is clearly not even trying to put himself in the mindset of someone who wants to have a family but is financially unable to do so. “I can, you know, have a few kids, make a whole lot of money from the government and not have to work. Or I can go to work and still live in the same building I’m living in any way. It’s going to create a moral dilemma that we saw in the 60s and the 70s in particular and it did not help people at all.”
The false idea that government benefits are going to encourage vast swathes of the American people to stop working entirely and simply leech off the state is a longstanding talking point for conservatives, one that they refuse to abandon because its serves as such a useful tool for ginning up a sense of grievance in right-wing voters. If Payne and his reactionary pals had their druthers, poor and middle-class people would forever remain in financial purgatory, forced to choose between raising a family and economic stability.
Fox's Charles Payne says Biden's American Family Plan presents a "Faustian choice" for poor young women: Make babies for government checks, or marry someone and get a job. pic.twitter.com/Jn9z2OvnhB
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) May 6, 2021
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Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.