At first blush, Donald Trump announced a proposal yesterday in Pennsylvania that might have seemed half-way progressive. But in this case, appearances can be deceiving.
Donald Trump on Tuesday filled in the details of the childcare affordability plan he floated at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland over the summer. He did so with his daughter Ivanka Trump, an energizing force behind the policy, and behind him.Trump’s plan allows for a federal income tax deduction of childcare expenses for up to four children and elderly dependents. It is capped at the average cost of care in the state and is available in single-income households making up to $250,000 and $500,000 in joint-income households. Further, it guarantees six weeks of paid maternity leave, paid out of the unemployment insurance fund, to women whose companies don’t provide the benefit.
Given the importance of the issue, it might seem like a step in the right direction to have the Republican presidential nominee unveil a proposal like this one. But the closer one looks at this, the worse Trump’s “plan” appears.
There are three broad angles to keep in mind. The first is that the policy details of Trump’s plan, to the extent that they exist, are a bit of a joke. The proposal would exclude many families who need help the most; the Trump campaign’s numbers don’t come close to adding up; and for much of the country, the size of the candidate’s recommended tax credit would fall far short.
The second angle to remember is that Trump has some pretty serious credibility problems on this issue given his private-sector record. Many of his own employees, for example, wanted paid maternity leave but didn’t receive it. What’s more, the Associated Press reported last month that Trump’s boasts about providing child-care at his hotels and resorts were wildly misleading: he offered programs that catered to his customers, but not his employees.
His record of demeaning working mothers and dismissing pregnancies as an “inconvenience” for businesses only makes matters worse. Lawsuits like Itzel Hudek’s remain very relevant for a reason.
Finally, there’s the inconvenient fact that Trump felt compelled to lie about the politics of all of this. Specifically, the GOP nominee claimed that Clinton “has no child-care plan” – a claim repeated by some in conservative media yesterday – despite the fact that his claim is a lie: Clinton unveiled a detailed proposal on this issue, with numbers that actually add up, over a year ago.
Yes, Republican policymakers generally believe issues like child care and paid maternity leave are better left to the private sector, so the fact that Trump unveiled something related to the issues may seem encouraging. But let’s not set the bar quite that low: Trump’s “plan” is impossible to take seriously.