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New Plan From Donald Trump Aims to Address Costs of Child Care

By Andrew Ujifusa — September 13, 2016 3 min read
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Cross-posted from the Early Years blog

By Christina A. Samuels

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump rolled out more details of his plan to address the rising cost of child care on Tuesday. That’s more than a year after his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, released her own plan for expanding access to childcare and early learning.

Trump, accompanied by his daughter Ivanka, gave a speech Tuesday night outlining his proposal, which includes treating child care as a deductible business expense and creating additional incentives for businesses to provide on-site day care. Currently, about 11 percent of civilian workers have access to child care at their workplace, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“For many families in our country, child care is now the single largest expense—who would think that—even more so than housing,” Trump said. “Yet very little meaningful policy work has been done in this area.”

And he hit Clinton for not having, in his view, a fully realized plan. “My opponent has no child care plan,” he said. “She never will ... and if it ever evolves into a plan, it will never get done anyway. All talk, no action.”

Trump hinted at these plans during a speech last month in Detroit, but faced criticism that his ideas supported wealthy families who can take tax deductions, rather than less-affluent families who do not have any tax liability. More details about the plan, as outlined by CBS reporter Sopan Deb:

  • Trump proposes six weeks of guaranteed maternity leave, which would be funded by eliminating fraud in the unemployment insurance program;
  • Child-care costs would be deductible for single filers earning up to $250,000 and joint filers earning up to $500,000;
  • Lower-income people without tax liability would be able to take advantage of an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit;
  • A family with a parent who stays at home would be able to deduct child-care expenses from their taxes as well;
  • Dependent-care savings accounts would be available to all. Lower income families would receive $500 in federal support if they contribute $1,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 39 percent of civilian workers currently have access to flexible spending accounts for dependent care, which allow child care to be paid for with pretax dollars.
  • Earned income tax dollars could be placed in a savings account and used to pay for “child enrichment activities,” including private school tuition.

Ivanka Trump, one of Trump’s closest advisers, has said that support for working women and for families is one of her priorities. The Washington Post reported that Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, has also focused on child care and family-support issues.

Even before Trump’s speech, Clinton’s campaign team released a response deriding Trump’s proposals. The maternity leave policy, for example, leaves out new fathers, and could end up discouraging companies from hiring women, the Clinton campaign argues.

Maya Harris, one of Clinton’s senior policy advisors, called the plan “completely out of touch” and “half-baked” although she said that was “no surprise given [Trump’s] history of disrespecting women.” The Clinton campaign also noted that Trump’s proposal would be much more helpful to wealthy people than to the less affluent, because many of the benefits come through tax payments.

Clinton’s own proposal calls for moving toward universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds and ramping up federal investments in Early Head Start. She has not put an overall price tag on the plan, although independent estimates have placed it at $200 billion, her campaign aides said.

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