Trump’s child care solution: A Tax Deduction for the rich! (Sad. Very Unfair.)

In September, Donald Trump came up with a child care that will probably not help anyone we know.

  • It won’t help most working parents who struggle with skyrocketing child care costs.
  • It does absolutely nothing to raise wages for those of us caring for kids.
  • It’s mostly just a tax break that would benefit wealthy Americans, such as his own family.

He says he plans to put this plan into action during the first 100 Days of his term:

  • Make child care expenses tax deductible for couples earning up to $500,000 per year. The tax break for a wealthy family making $500,000 would be over 2½ times more than what a middle-income family would receive. “Sad. Very unfair.”
  • For a few of the lowest-income families who owe no taxes, Trump proposes an annual rebate worth up to $1,200, which covers just a fraction of child care costs for a typical family.
  • Millions of middle-class families would be entirely left out of Trump’s plan, because they earn too much to qualify for the rebate but owe no federal income taxes and won‘t benefit from the tax deduction.
  • Create new tax-sheltered dependent-care savings accounts allowing families to save $2,000 a year pre-tax, with up to a $500 federal match for lower-income families. These would allow wealthy  families (including those that earn too much to qualify for the tax deduction) to use tax-free money to pay for exclusive private schools, expensive private tutors, and even live-in nannies.
  • Call for a more favorable regulatory environment for “family-based and community-based solutions,” rather than center-based care.

Basically, Trump’s plan does nothing to lower skyrocketing child care costs. For one thing, he wants families to pay all of their child care costs out-of-pocket all year long and then reimburse them much later at tax time. Well, you can’t deduct something that you can’t pay for to begin with.

And as if that’s wasn’t bad enough, Trump’s plan could even increase child care prices. What if day care centers increase their fees to capture the generous tax savings wealthy families will see under the Trump plan? That would leave all the rest of us even worse off than we are today.

Donald Trump offers no help to child care workers who are paid so little that nearly half must rely on public assistance to provide basics for our own families.

His plan doesn’t invest anything to increase the supply of high-quality care, which is especially difficult for families with infants and toddlers, those who work nights and weekends or others who struggle to find reliable care that fits with their job schedules.

His plan would change the Unemployment Insurance program to offer mothers (not dads, just moms) six weeks of paid maternity leave. Mothers would be entitled to the unemployment benefits they would receive if they were involuntarily laid off, which varies from state to state. Also, the benefit would apply only when employers don’t offer paid maternity leave, and would be paid for (magically?) through other reductions to Unemployment Insurance that Trump says he will find.

Finally, he praises informal care—like a neighbor—over the high quality programs that have been proven to help children succeed in school. He proposes “regulatory reform to promote new family-based and community-based solutions,” and says current federal funding and regulations are “biased towards center-based care.” He offers few details on these aspects of his plan, but his criticism of federal guidelines may signal a reluctance to enforce child care regulations.

We just made great strides in California. We know that our elected leaders here, anyway, have listened to us and many share our vision of fixing our broken child care system. SEIU Local 99 child care providers will continue to join with our allies across the state to move forward, not backward.

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