The list of problems with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's latest child care proposal is long. It caters to the rich, does little to help working families, does nothing to help the poorest parents, and includes an ill-conceived maternity leave scheme that actually hurts women who work outside the home.
If the basic test of a child care proposal is whether it makes quality care more affordable for the majority of America's struggling families and pays providers what they're worth, Trump's plan fails. However, his plan does show that Trump is unfamiliar with the realities of work and life in this century, and totally out-of-touch with the daily challenges most Americans face balancing the demands of making a living and raising a family.
Trump also fails to fund his proposal, except the maternity leave scheme, which he pays for by an unworkable and reckless raid of unemployment insurance. At the same time, Trump's other proposals would give massive tax breaks to the very wealthy, blowing a huge hole in the budget while doing nothing to help families who most need relief.
One way we could fairly fund quality, affordable child care and pre-K for every child in our country would be to require America's tax-dodging corporations, the ones that take advantage of outrageous rules that allow them to "offshore" their profits, to finally pay their fair share of taxes.
U.S. multinational corporations have $2.4 trillion in profits offshore on which they owe $700 billion in U.S. taxes if taxed at the 35% rate, less foreign taxes paid. That's nearly as much as the federal government spent for economic recovery after the Great Recession.
According to Americans for Tax Fairness, The $2.4 trillion held offshore is highly concentrated among a small number of huge U.S. multinational corporations. Nearly 40% of the profits belong to just 10 companies. And just 50 companies hold 77% of those offshore profits. Why should the largest and most profitable U.S. corporations get a massive tax break they don't need or deserve?
These companies make billions from American consumers but don't contribute their fair share into the economy that helped generate those profits. If these companies paid what they owe, the next Congress could make major new investments in things like child care and pre-K, improving the lives of children, families and hard-working providers who have long been paid far less than they are worth.
We have failed as a nation to invest in both high quality child care and pre-kindergarten, even though research demonstrates that early childhood education provides kids with the tools to succeed in life-long learning, and unequal access to needed education contributes to the opportunity gap hurting millions and millions of children.
America's families deserve better: we need a system that ensures access to affordable, flexible high-quality child care that costs no more than 10% of a family's income, provides universal pre-K, and guarantees at least $15/hr. in wages for early educators and child care providers.
The best thing we can say about Trump's proposal is that at least he felt compelled to make it.
Trump's plan, missing parts, blanks and all, reflects a new reality - you can't run for president anymore unless you say something about our nation's child care crisis. And that's a good thing.
Ethan Rome is the executive director of the Child Care and Early Learning Action Hub, a network of parents, providers, and educators united for high-quality child care and pre-K for all families, and a minimum of $15/hr. and a union for all workers in the industry.
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