But I have to take issue with him on this (my emphasis):
Let's start from the fact that this subsidy must be paid for by other tax-payers. It's therefore not just a subsidy to parents, but a tax on singletons.It seems Chris thinks it is unfair that single people on low incomes should pay to support the children of much richer people. I beg to differ.
This is inegalitarian not just because it means that a single person on the minimum wage is subsidizing the lifestyle choice of couples on six-figure incomes.....
Having children is often described as a "lifestyle choice", usually by people without children who object to supporting families with children. But this is poisonous quasi-egalitarian nonsense. People who choose not to have children rely on other people's children to support them in their old age. Whose taxes will pay for their pensions, benefits and healthcare if other people don't have children? Whose production will ensure that they have food on the table and money to spend from the returns on their investments?
When people without children support families with children from their taxes - or directly through philanthropic giving - they are contributing to their own futures. They may not realise it, but they have as much interest in ensuring that those children are properly cared for and educated as the parents do.
And I'm sorry, Chris, but describing children as a "lifestyle choice" is itself economically illiterate, at least at the macro level. At the individual level, having children is indeed a choice. But for society as a whole, children are essential. Without children, there can be no future growth. Just look at Japan.
People have come to believe that working hard and saving will be sufficient to ensure a secure and prosperous old age. Children are a cost, so if we can't afford them we shouldn't have them. But if economic growth is absent in the future because the population is ageing and declining, people's faith in working hard and saving as the key to a secure future will turn out to be hollow. And our failure to invest adequately in the care and education of children may come back to haunt us. Investment in human capital is every bit as important for economic growth as investment in physical capital. Sharing the cost of caring for children and educating children is in the interests of people without children as much as those with children.
So it is not "inegalitarian" that a single person on a low wage should subsidise childcare for well-off couples. On the contrary, it is completely egalitarian - perhaps too egalitarian, to some minds, since it to some extent removes the financial responsibility for the care of children from the families into which they were born. Personally I welcome the principle of social contribution towards the care of children. It is a long overdue move towards recognising that care of children is as much a social responsibility as education of children. It doesn't go far enough - parents who choose to give up work to care for their children will not receive this benefit, which I think is wrong. But it is at least a move in the right direction.
We can argue about whether a single person on the minimum wage should be taxed at all. Personally I think they should not. But if we agree that they should be taxed, it is reasonable that those taxes should be used to contribute towards the care of children, however well-off their parents. And if it is also considered reasonable that well-off couples should contribute more towards the care of children than single earners on low incomes, then tax away their childcare benefits. There is more than one way of using tax policy to achieve an equitable outcome.
The entire developed world - actually, with the exception of the UK, which currently has something of a baby boom going on - is suffering a decline in fertility rates, which I think is largely to do with the rising opportunity cost of having children, particularly for educated women. If we want a prosperous economic future, we need to enable working people to have children if they wish, by reducing those opportunity costs: subsidising childcare goes some way towards addressing this problem. And we also need to invest generally in the care and education of children: I do not regard early years' education as an alternative to childcare subsidies, but a complement to them.
But to achieve the political will to do this, we need to stop regarding children as a luxury of the well-off. Children are not a "lifestyle choice". They are our future.