The United States is the only industrialized country that does not have guaranteed paid maternity leave (pdf) and invests less of its GDP on child care and early childhood educations than 32 other industrialized countries around the world. The lack of programs to assist working class mothers and fathers has not been a very high priority the presidential campaigns until Tuesday night. In a bid to gain women voters, Republican presidential candidate and failed casino owner, Donald Trump, along with his daughter, Ivanka, introduced his plan to address the problems. Needless to say, it fell far short and does virtually nothing for middle and low income working parents and completely ignores same sex parents and men. Yes, men. Sorry, guys, but according to he-man Trump’s policy, you have no part in the rearing of your children. Then he and his daughter proceeded to flagrantly lie about Hillary Clinton’s proposals and her legacy.
First, the Trump policy relies mostly on tax deductions and employment insurance that benefit the rich and shorts the poor. Nor does the plan address the high cost of child care in the US. Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President of Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, dissected this in her article at the Guardian.
Trump’s plan is mainly a tax deduction, which would allow parents to deduct the average price of child care from their taxes. Even with the other new bells and whistles included in Trump’s plan – such as income caps, rebates and savings accounts – Trump’s proposal will innately benefit the people who need the least help covering child care expenses, while lower income and middle class families are left behind.
As many have pointed out, the value of a tax deduction is directly linked to the tax rate you pay. Under Trump’s plan, wealthy families making $500,000 would get a child care tax break of about $40 for every $100 they pay for child care. Meanwhile, families making $60,000 would only get $15 for every $100 spent on child care. Even if a middle-class family spends the same amount as a wealthy family for child care, the wealthy family’s tax cut is much larger.
Trump’s plan completely fails to address the day-to-day realities of America’s working families, because it fails to address the underlying problem: it does nothing to make child care affordable. In the United States, the average cost of center-based child care for the typical working family with an infant and preschooler is about $18,000, a steep price for families to cover. If a family cannot afford child care, a tax deduction is irrelevant – a family can’t deduct something that they can’t pay for to begin with.
The same flaw applies to the $1,200 rebate aimed at low-income families under Trump’s plan. In response to criticism that his plan is a windfall for the wealthiest families, Trump is looking to appeal to struggling Americans, but this just won’t cut it. A credit of $1,200 would be perfect if the goal was to help families afford childcare for a month, not a year.
Now about that maternity leave policy that leaves out fathers, adoptive parents and same sex parents, it’s not all that great for the mother, either. Jesse Berney at Cosmopolitan explains:
For starters, Donald Trump didn’t actually announce a new maternity leave plan. You may be confused by multiple headlines declaring he did. Trump did, standing with his daughter Ivanka, announce a proposal for new mothers he’d try to pass as president: six weeks of access to unemployment benefits. Given the current federal policy of zero weeks of paid parental leave, Trump’s policy would be a minor improvement (and a departure from typical Republican ideology). New mothers would get some money for time off.
But it’s not paid leave, at least not fully paid for the vast majority of those who would take it. Unemployment insurance doesn’t usually pay you what you’ve been making; in most states it’s just a fraction, with caps on what you can earn every week. So women taking time off with new children will have six weeks of some income, but not full pay.
What’s most glaringly odd about Trump’s proposal, of course, is that in the year 2016, he is offering maternity leave. Only mothers can apply for the unemployment insurance. Fathers are left out completely. But it isn’t just us heteronormative dads who aren’t covered. His plan makes no mention of LGBT relationships. Two dads adopting a kid? No leave for you. (In fact, the maternity leave policy doesn’t mention adoptive parents at all.) If a newborn has two moms, are they both eligible for unemployment insurance? What if, god forbid, a mother dies in childbirth? Can a single dad apply for leave to take care of his newborn child, or does his gender mean he’s out of luck? (Needless to say, the Republican nominee’s plan doesn’t address questions of transgender or nonbinary parents.)
In Trump’s proposal, it’s women who take care of the children, because in Donald Trump’s world, it has always been women who took care of his children. He’s had five kids by three wives, yet bragged that he doesn’t change diapers and that his entire parental responsibility comes down to writing checks.
So much for being in touch with what working families face when caring for their children.
Finally their was a huge lie which by now we have come to expect from Trump, his offspring, his campaign. Both Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, blatantly lied when they both claimed that Hillary Clinton had no child care plan. A quick check of the Clinton campaign web site would have been in order before either of them opened their mouths. In fact, she has three different pages on her website that describe her plans for paid family leave and childcare which she rolled out over 14 months ago. But heaven forbid the some of news media should call either of the Trumps out for flagrant lies. Ivanka went on Fox News Tuesday night repeating the lies:
Appearing on Fox News on Tuesday evening, Ivanka claimed that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton doesn’t have any plans when it comes to childcare and paid leave. “There’s no policy on Hillary Clinton’s website pertaining to any of these issues, childcare, eldercare, or maternity leave or paternity leave for that matter,” she said. “There’s no policy that’s been articulated on how to solve the problem.”
The New York Times did come close but seems to have an aversion to calling out a pathological liar:
you have the GOP presidential candidate dead to rights in a flagrant lie, and pic.twitter.com/AbBIHhtEme
— Simon Maloy (@SimonMaloy) September 14, 2016
Hillary Clinton has been an advocate for families and the middle class most of her life. Her legacy on education, health care and childhood welfare as First Lady of Arkansas remain strong after 25 years. As the nation’s First Lady, she advocated for the Family and Medical Leave Act which was signed into law in 1993 which faced major GOP opposition. As a US senator, she introduced a bill that would have allocated funding to pilot programs allowing low-income mothers to care for their newborns at home.
Pointing out the facts and sorting out the flaws are important for voters in every election. It is more important now that one of the candidates is a con artist and proven liar.