ASTON, Pennsylvania — Donald Trump on Tuesday unveiled a set of policy proposals aimed at making child care more affordable, during a speech in suburban Pennsylvania.
Trump, flanked by his daughter Ivanka Trump, a working mother who helped craft the policies, said he would seek to make child care expenses tax deductible for families earning less than $500,000 and called for establishing tax-free accounts to be used for child care and child enrichment activities.
He also called for guaranteeing six weeks’ maternity leave by extending unemployment insurance benefits to working mothers whose employers do not offer paid maternity leave.
“For many families in our country, childcare is now the single largest expense — even more than housing,” Trump said, speaking from prepared remarks. “Our plan will bring relief to working and middle class families.
Trump’s detailed proposals Tuesday marked Trump’s latest effort to repair his relationship with women voters, many of whom have come to know Trump as the candidate who suggested Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked him tough questions because she was menstruating and who insinuated his GOP rival Carly Fiorina was too ugly to be elected.
Women broke for his rival Hillary Clinton 53% to 38% in the latest CNN/ORC poll.
But Trump leads Clinton among married women and the Republican nominee also sought to appeal to stay-at-home parents, extending the child care tax deductions he outlined to families with one stay-at-home parent.
In remarks before her father’s speech, Trump’s daughter said the issue of affordable childcare has been a top concern of hers and she seized the opportunity to address the issue because her father is “in a very unique position to do something about this problem.”
“Little focus has been put on how best to alleviate enormous financial burdens childcare places on low-income and middle-income families,” Ivanka Trump said.
Four women Republican congressman also joined Trump on stage to show their support for his proposals, which Trump argued would have bipartisan appeal in Congress.
Details of Trump’s plan
Trump’s plan calls for making child care expenses fully tax-deductible, capped at the average cost of child care in the taxpayers’ state of residence, for up to four children. The tax deduction would be available to families earning less than $500,000 or individuals earning less than $250,000.
The average cost of daycare in the US is $11,666, according to the National Association of Child Resource and Referral Agencies, though the cost varies widely by state. Trump’s plan would not cancel out the child care tax credit of $3,000 for one child or $6,000 for two children or more from their federal income tax, a Trump adviser said.
Neither Trump nor his campaign offered an estimate of the cost of his proposal, but the campaign said it would pay for the six weeks of maternity leave offered to mothers by eliminating fraud in the unemployment insurance program.
The campaign said the rest of the proposals would be paid for through the economic benefits of Trump’s overall tax plan.
“We want to end the economic punishment for motherhood in the United States. We believe that our plan makes great strides toward doing so,” a campaign official said Tuesday morning.
Ivanka Trump also briefly addressed reporters on a call Tuesday, saying that she is “excited to see (the plan) come to fruition and present it later on today … I’m very passionate about this.”
Trump’s not the first presidential candidate to bring up child care and family leave on the campaign trail.
Hillary Clinton backed 12-week paid family leave in 2015, early in her presidential campaign. Clinton has indicated that she would pay for the plan by raising taxes of top earners, meaning her plan would “impose no additional costs on businesses, including small businesses.”
Clinton declined to support a Democratic backed paid family leave bill in 2016 because it would raise payroll taxes for workers and companies by 0.2%, or about $1.38 per week for the median wage earner.
Clinton, though, has questioned the possibility to achieving paid family leave in the current political climate. She told CNN in 2014 that although she supports it, “I don’t think, politically, we could get it now.”