Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Tuesday unveiled his new proposal to help families with the high cost of child care expenses.
It’s a policy issue he has not focused on throughout his long career (although he has inaccurately said a child care program offered for guests of his resorts is available for his employees' child care needs). He also repeatedly said in the past that it’s up to women to take the lead in child care.
The issue is, however, important to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, a working mom of three, who previewed the idea during her convention speech in July. He told a rally in Iowa earlier in the day she said, "Daddy, daddy, we have to do this."
In need of the women's vote, two months later – and less than two months before Election Day – Trump has unveiled his plan. Polls consistently show that he is losing to Clinton among women voters and he is making a direct appeal to them by releasing a plan tailored for middle and upper middle-class women in suburban Philadelphia, where many of those voters reside in a critical battleground state.
The night before the plan's roll out, Trump claimed that his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, is running a campaign “with no policy, no solutions, and no new ideas.”
In fact, Clinton has had her plans for early child care in place since before she announced her candidacy in the spring of 2015. Clinton’s final public event before declaring her presidential bid last April was to launch a new initiative at an early childhood development center in a poor neighborhood of Brooklyn with New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray. The issue has remained central to her candidacy. (And it’s an issue she has worked on since her first job out of law school at the Children’s Defense Fund.)
Now that both candidates have proposals, it’s worth comparing the two.
Paid Family Leave
Trump: Trump doesn’t offer leave for fathers, but his maternity leave plan would guarantee six weeks of paid maternity leave in the form of unemployment insurance, which is capped at a percentage of income in many states.
Clinton: Clinton’s plan guarantees 12 weeks of paid family leave – for mothers and fathers with at least two-thirds of their salary. It would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy.
Cost of Child Care
Trump: Working parents – and parents who stay home to care for children - can deduct the costs on their taxes via the Earned Income Tax Credit. The campaign estimates that middle class families could receive a $1,200 tax break.
Trump also proposes a Dependent Care Savings Account that allow the accumulation of funds and are tax deductible and appreciate tax free. Dependent care accounts already exist but must be used by the end of the year and only available through an employer.
Clinton: She wants to cap child care costs at ten percent of a family’s income. To do that, she’d rely on tax cuts or state block grants for the government to subsidize costs exceeding ten percent.
What It Means
Experts say that Trump’s plan is a good start and a recognition that the issue is important to women and families, but Vivien Labaton, co-executive director of Make It Work Action, said Trump’s plan offers less than Clinton’s.
“His childcare proposal is really designed for the Ivanka Trump’s of the country more than the working families who need help,” Labaton said.
She said any plan, including Trump’s, that offers a tax rebate won’t work for many lower income families. Many struggling families don’t make enough to pay taxes and other struggling families who do pay taxes need up-front relief up before tax time.
“Clinton’s plan goes much further in calling for a much larger investment in child care,” Labaton said. “There are still details to learn about her plan but she seems to recognize the crisis that it is.”
Labaton would like Trump to also address the low wages of caregivers, something Clinton has talked about but not given specific solutions.