The new system will certainly track down parents who don’t pay child support. But the law, however effective, is a dangerous extension of federal power that will ultimately be misused. Congress shot a blunderbuss, with every working American a target.
Hitting up deadbeat dads — and deadbeat moms as the case may be — would seem to hold great promise. Even if the amount of child support collected is small, the simple act of holding deadbeat dads liable should make them ponder more carefully their decision to have children.
The problem of welfare is at bottom a problem of fathers. Children in female‐headed households are more likely to live in poverty. Such families are more likely to collect public assistance. And men who aren’t held responsible for fathering children are more likely to sire illegitimate children.
The database idea has precedent. California passed a law in ’92 requiring companies with five or more employees in 17 different industries to report all new hires within 30 days who are older than l8 and earn more than $300 a month. Firms had to include the workers’ names and Social Security numbers. (So much for the old promise never to use Social Security numbers for anything other than Social Security.)