Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at La Escuelita School in Oakland, Calif., May 6, 2016.
Photo by Jeff Chiu/AP

Hillary Clinton aims high on child care

When it comes to the key issues of the 2016 presidential race, familiar political staples lay the foundation for much of the discourse. But as the Huffington Post’s Jonathan Cohn reported yesterday, Hillary Clinton appears eager to add child care to the list of dominant issues.
The most concrete part of the agenda, first reported by The Huffington Post, is a pair of narrow but potentially important proposals. One would bolster a highly regarded “home visiting” program designed to help low-income children at risk of emotional, intellectual, and physical harm. If Clinton has her way, the program, known as the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Initiative, would reach twice as many children as it does today.
The other initiative would seek to boost pay for child-care workers, as a way to improve retention and attract educators with stronger qualifications. Clinton will call this the RAISE initiative, for “Respect And Increased Salaries for Early Childhood Educators,” and it will be based on successful pilot programs now operating in several states.
As Cohn added, Clinton also intends to cap family expenses for child care at 10% of annual income. When costs exceed this limit, Clinton “would use a combination of subsidized child care and tax credits.”
Though many of the relevant financing details have not yet been released – the Democrat’s campaign said the policy would continue to be fleshed out in the coming months – Clinton made the pitch at a Kentucky event that her ambitious plan is part of a real pro-family agenda.
“It’s time to face up to the reality of what family life is like today and to support families,” Clinton said at a Lexington-based social-services center.
The New Republic added, “The plan closely resembles a policy proposal published last fall by the left-leaning Center for American Progress, which has close ties to the Clinton campaign. Earlier in the primaries, Hillary also called for universal pre-kindergarten education that would make preschool available to every 4-year-old in the country.”
The punch-line, however, comes when comparing Clinton’s plan to her Republican rival’s approach to the same issue.
In November, Trump hosted an event in Iowa, where a woman asked him what he would do as president to provide workers, especially working mothers, with more access to affordable child care. The Washington Post reported at the time:
Donald Trump doesn’t understand why so few companies provide affordable, in-house child care for their employees like he does at some of his companies.
“It’s not expensive for a company to do it,” Trump said during a town hall at a community college in this small town on Thursday afternoon. “You need one person or two people, and you need some blocks and you need some swings and some toys. You know, surely, it’s not expensive. It’s not an expensive thing. I do it all over, and I get great people because of it… It’s something that can be done, I think, very easily by a company.”
Oh. So Hillary Clinton’s plan involves a “home visiting” program, improved pay for child-care workers through a RAISE initiative, and a cap on child-care expenses through subsidized child care and tax credits.
Trump’s plan involves some blocks and some swings.
Let the debate begin.