Politicians have a long history of trying to be elected by kissing babies. However, with about four million babies being born in the U.S. each year, there isn’t enough time in the current presidential race to kiss enough newborns to make any real difference. So Trump is trying to find another way to convince Americans he cares about babies.
Trump’s economic speech in Detroit covered his ideas on tax reform, regulation and child care.
It’s that last one that jumped out at me. As president, he said, he would “help reduce the cost of child care by allowing parents to fully deduct the average cost of child care spending from their taxes.”
Is this proposal just pandering to the voters, or will it actually improve the lives of tens of millions of families?
Trump is addressing an important issue. Each month the federal government runs a large survey that calculates the national unemployment rate. The most recent data from this survey show about one million people in the U.S. had child care problems in June that prevented them from either working or working as many hours as they wanted.
So how much is the average cost of child care that Trump would allow parents to deduct?
Child care is quite expensive. The U.S. Agriculture Department has an online child expense calculator that shows the annual costs of raising a child. The calculator shows the average middle-class, two-parent family spends about US$3,900 a year on child care for a two-year-old.
However, the U.S. already has a child care tax credit, which allows people to deduct up to $3,000 of expenses for one child and $6,000 for two or more children. In 2013, the latest year of data, about six million households took advantage of it.
In the same year, there were about 30 million families with children under six years old. This means there is plenty of room to expand the program, since roughly four out of five families with children under six years old are not getting this government benefit to help pay for child care. Many families don’t take advantage of the credit because even though they need child care, they cannot afford it.
Will Trump’s proposal work for these millions of families?
I doubt it, because the government’s present policy already covers most of the cost of the average family. This means Trump’s proposal will likely not help more people afford child care.
Donald Trump’s campaign has focused on the issue of jobs. Child care is one part of the jobs problem in the U.S. However, this plan doesn’t address the roughly 80 percent of parents who are not currently receiving the child care credit, nor does it increase the availability of child care.
Trump is to be commended for raising the issue of child care for working Americans. However, his present proposal doesn’t solve the problem.