Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump just released more details about his proposal to make child care affordable for working families. Spoiler alert: It still benefits wealthier families most and leaves behind the working families who are struggling to make ends meet.
By now it's become clear that anytime Trump is looking to woo women voters, he trots out his daughter to be his proxy. And for good reason – after years of misogynistic remarks and behavior, women know that Donald Trump is not their champion. Ivanka, on the other hand, represents a certain reality about today's workforce, namely that women work outside the home and continue to do so even after becoming moms.
But as the daughter of a so-called billionaire, Ivanka does not represent the majority of working parents. And so it should be no surprise that Trump's child care plan, of which she is apparently an architect, benefits people closer to her end of the income spectrum. Though distinctly more coherent compared to Trump's other proposals (no doubt a hallmark of Ivanka's involvement), contrary to Trump's assertions, this plan will not bring the cost of child care within reach for most working families.
Trump's plan is built on tax deductions, which is problematic for three reasons. First, you cannot deduct something you cannot pay for to begin with. For the typical working family, child care costs $10,000 to $20,000 a year, which can amount to nearly 30 percent of a family's income in the United States.
And tax deductions do nothing for the 44 percent of families that don't earn enough to pay income taxes. Trump's solution for accommodating these lower-income families is to offer a rebate of $1,200 per year. With average child care expenses exceeding the cost of rent and college tuition in most states, this rebate will barely make a dent in most families' child care bills.
Second, most families have to pay their child care provider weekly or monthly, so an end-of-year tax break is no help. Trump's child care plan assumes parents can pay thousands of dollars up-front each month to even qualify for his deduction, and then wait up to a year to get reimbursed. When you're struggling every week to make ends meet, an end-of-year deduction or rebate is too little too late.
Finally, wholly absent from Trump's child care plan is support for the child care workforce. The very people who love and care for our children are paid a median hourly wage of just $9.77. As a point of comparison, we pay people more to park our cars than we do to care for our children.