Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said in a press conference on Thursday that Americans should have more children in order to keep the country's workforce stroing as baby boomers retire. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

Despite Active Efforts to Make Child-Rearing Less Affordable, Paul Ryan Urges Americans to Have More Babies

"We'll all get right on that once you allow for paid maternity and paternity leave."

Julia Conley

After weeks of promoting the Republican tax plan, which would raise taxes on the average American family within the next decade, and years spent pushing policies that benefit corporations and the wealthy over middle- and lower-class households, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) suggested Thursday that Americans should have more children in order to keep entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security afloat.


The United States saw record low birth rates in 2016, with only 62 births for every 1,000 women of childbearing age—down one percent from the year before.

While the U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, U.S. News and World Report found it to be far behind many European countries in its annual ranking of the Best Countries to Raise Kids earlier this year, due to its relative lack of support systems for parents and children.

The U.S. placed only at number 19 on the list, with the magazine noting that higher-ranking countries including Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Canada, had higher scores for income inequality, healthcare, well-supported public education, and other categories.

Ryan has offered little support for programs that would make healthcare, education, and family leave possible for families—likely making Americans as eager to reproduce as previous generations—and has promoted programs that would actively make child-rearing less accessible for many families.

The GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed in the House with almost unanimous support from Republicans, would exclude about 10 million children from its Child Tax Credit increase, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The tax bill is being reconciled in Congress now, but according to reports the final version is expected to benefit the wealthy over average American families even more than the House and Senate bills did. 

The tax plan would also eliminate tax deductions for student loan interest and tax cuts for undergraduates and graduate students, suggesting that while Ryan is happy to urge Americans to procreate, he has little interest in assisting their children should they attend college.

Ryan has shown disdain for the types of programs that put child-rearing within reach for families in many other countries, including family leave. The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't guarantee paid leave for new parents, and in 2009, Ryan voted against a bill that would allow federal employees to use up to four weeks of vacation time for parental leave—far less generous that the leave offered to families in Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and many other countries.

Earlier this year, Ryan also spearheaded the House GOP's attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which included an amendment that would have allowed states to refuse prenatal and delivery room care, leaving women with up to $17,000 in surcharges for maternity care according to the Center for American Progress.

At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall noted that Ryan's concerns over continuing to fund Medicare and Social Security could be alleviated through means other than imploring Americans to have babies they may have trouble affording under Republican policies:

As Americans live longer and have fewer children, the political economy has needed more young people than what economists call 'natural increase' can manage. That's a key reason why relatively high rates of immigration has become so key to sustaining not just economic growth but the ability of working age payroll taxes to sustain these programs which mainly but not exclusively go to older people. There are other ways to help these programs: like ending the tax breaks that allow wealthy people to pay lower rates than working people.

On social media, other critics denounced Ryan's insistence that Americans aren't reproducing enough, while he and his party do little to incentivize raising children in the U.S.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


Right-Wing Justices Should Be Impeached for Lying Under Oath, Says Ocasio-Cortez

"We have a responsibility to protect our democracy," said the New York Democrat. "That includes holding those in power who violate the law accountable."

Kenny Stancil ·

'Infuriating': Biden Rebuked for Continued Opposition to Supreme Court Expansion

"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Mehdi Hasan asked. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"

Kenny Stancil ·

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·

'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo