Ivanka Trump raised eyebrows at the Republican National Convention (RNC) when she said that her father, presidential nominee Donald Trump, was going to take on numerous women’s issues including sky-high childcare costs, when at the time, Trump did not have any policies relevant to childcare or a host of other issues – concepts he is clearly unfamiliar with – that Ivanka mentioned. Today, Trump finally announced a policy for “affordable childcare;” but when scrutinized it becomes clear that, as with most of his platform, it will only benefit the rich and do nothing to help the poor and middle class families who need it.
Trump proposes making all expenditures on childcare tax deductible. This would mean that when a family files their taxes, they can subtract the amount of money they paid in childcare from their income. Then, they only pay income taxes on the remaining portion of their income. However, only the rich and upper middle class would see a real benefit.
According to Helen Bank, the director of childcare and early learning at the National Women’s Law Center, “It’s absolutely regressive.”
The poor and working class spend the highest proportion of their income on childcare. However, they also pay a very insubstantial amount of income tax as it is. Either they make so little money that it is all deductible, or they benefit from tax credits designed to ease the financial burden on the poor.
While the poor most desperately need assistance to provide adequate childcare for their children, they will not benefit at all from Trump’s proposed tax deduction. If parents cannot afford childcare, they often cannot work because their children need to be supervised. For single parents this means that their household would have no income.
Families who do scrape together enough money to pay for childcare may not be able to afford high quality childcare. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has shown that high quality childcare has a significant positive impact on children years into the future compared to low quality. Socioeconomic status should not determine which children can access high quality care. All children deserve equal access to care that will meet their needs and give them the best chance at success in life.
As things stand, poor families face a dilemma between stopping work and losing a source of income, and spending a substantial proportion of their income to leave their children in low quality childcare. Donald Trump will do nothing to change the status quot. His proposed policy will reduce government tax revenues by giving the rich a tax break, and at the same time will deny any assistance to the poor and working class who need it the most – a theme which is echoed in all of Trump’s “economic” proposals.
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