Ivanka Trump has unveiled a new proposal to tackle our country’s abysmal lack of good, affordable childcare. True to form, it’s awful.
Here’s what her plan, which was included as part of her father’s budget for 2020, proposes, according to NPR:
The centerpiece is a proposed one-time investment of $1 billion to increase the supply of child care to underserved populations. States would apply for funding and could use it to encourage employers large and small to invest in child care or to support child care providers that operate during nontraditional work hours or that cater to parents who are enrolled in school.
A one-time infusion of $1 billion—or less than the cost of two stealth bombers—is laughably inadequate. “It looks like window dressing,” Sonya Michel, professor emerita at the University of Maryland who has written extensively about childcare in the United States, told Jezebel. “There are a lot of problems with it. One, it won’t do anything to reduce childcare costs,” Michel added, which, along with the relative scarcity of childcare providers, is one of the main obstacles for parents seeking childcare options.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average cost for full-time childcare can range anywhere from $4,000 to $22,600 per year—far out of reach for most American families. A serious proposal—say, Elizabeth Warren’s actual plan to provide parents with affordable (and depending on your income, free) childcare by taxing the wealthiest Americans—must tackle the rising costs of childcare, at a time when wages are stagnant. (Warren’s proposal, in contrast to Ivanka’s, would cost about $70 billion per year.)
Michel is also critical of the plan’s goal of getting states to, as NPR reported, “establish targets for reducing unnecessary regulatory or other requirements that limit the supply or increase the cost of childcare.” “As it is, childcare regulations are very lax,” she said. “Anything that reduces regulation, I would be very suspicious of.”
During a recent discussion at the White House, Ivanka laid out some of the challenges in reforming our childcare system: “You have care providers who are working at below poverty wages, you have parents who can’t afford the care and you don’t have a robust ecosystem of facilities because it’s a low-margin business with high liability,” she said, before describing it as “like just a fundamentally flawed system.”
She’s not wrong, but her proposal, much like her childcare tax credit and her thoughts on paid family leave, does little to address any of the problems she identified. I wonder what entrenched social problem Ivanka will decide to fix with the worst of Republican policy ideas next.