President Reagan supported Vice President George Bush's new child-care proposals today, saying they would "strengthen the family" and permit thousands of mothers to choose to stay home with their children.
Reagan made the remarks in an address to about 10,000 delegates to the Student Congress on Evangelism at the Washington Convention Center where his wife, Nancy, spoke Wednesday evening.
The plan, unveiled Monday by Bush, who will receive his party's nomination next month, proposes $1,000-per-child tax credits to low-income families who arrange their own child care. The credits would help cover any costs incurred for care in the home, a church or a licensed children's center.
The package would cost an estimated $2.2 billion, and while critics say it does not allocate enough, supporters say it encourages traditional values by rewarding a parent for staying at home to care for a child.
"Vice President Bush has proposed an innovative plan," said Reagan, "one that would strengthen the family."
Options for Mothers
Reagan said working mothers "could put the money toward child care. But by giving each family this tax credit the vice president's plan would also permit thousands of mothers to choose to stay home with their children."
Reagan told the gathering of young evangelicals from all denominations, "I'm not going to preach a sermon," and, instead, recited a litany of familiar themes on family values, calling for prayer in the schools and saying that the "taking of some 4,000 unborn children's lives every day . . . must stop."
The President also urged the teen-agers to abstain from promiscuity.
"I'm sure that each of you believes that someday you'll find someone to fall in love with, and you will: Sometimes you may get frustrated, and, yes, finding the right one may take longer than you thought," he said. "But don't worry, it will happen. And that's why it's so important for you not to pay any attention at all to all those who say that promiscuity is somehow stylish and rewarding. No, the right thing to do is wait for that one special person--beginning now."
Reagan said, "We must admit that in recent years, America did seem to lose some of her religious and moral bearings."
He said pornography spread unchecked and was "available virtually on every magazine rack in every drugstore or shop in the land."
He said drug abuse "spread through the nation like a fever, attracting children as well as adults and involving drugs that were once unheard of--drugs like LSD and PCP."
While the President said those problems remain, "I believe there's been a change."
"Now, although we Americans have done much to put our national life back on the firm foundation of traditional values, there is still a great deal to be done," he said.