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And Child Care for All

Child Care

President Joe Biden persuaded the Congress to invest in roads and bridges than making child care available . (Photo: SEIU Healthcare)

Progress on the genuinely domestic portion of President Biden’s domestic agenda has been his most significant failure during his first two years in office.

The federal government did more to assist parents earlier in the pandemic than ever. Washington mandated paid leave for many workers, gave billions of dollars in aid to child care businesses, and even expanded the child tax credit to help most families with children for several glorious months in 2021.

However, the assistance has dwindled. Biden persuaded Congress to invest in roads and bridges rather than making child care available and affordable. He has presided over a significant increase in federal support for manufacturing and a significant decrease in federal support for working parents.

According to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, despite continued economic growth, approximately 3.7 million more American children lived in poverty at the end of 2022 than at the end of 2021.

READ ALSO: Indiana Legislature Aims To Improve Child Care Tax Credit 2023

The primary blame for this reversal falls on congressional Republicans, who have blocked legislation that would guarantee access to affordable child care, allow workers to take paid sick and family leave, and permanently expand the child tax credit.

The White House should be able to make some headway by utilizing its regulatory powers. In a promising development, the administration announced on Tuesday that semiconductor companies seeking new federal subsidies must ensure that child care is available and affordable for the workers who build and operate their plants. This principle should be extended to other corporate recipients of federal handouts and the other components of a basic set of benefits that should be standard for American workers.

Some Senate Republicans have expressed interest in expanding the tax credit. Similarly, two purple states have recently launched intriguing experiments to encourage businesses to provide paid leave. Virginia’s Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, signed legislation last year that allows insurance companies to sell paid family leave policies to employers. Companies would pay premiums to the insurer, who would cover employees’ wages on paid leave.

The progress in blue states, which are rushing to do what Congress will not, reinforces the temptation to resist compromise. In January, the Illinois legislature passed legislation making the state the 12th to require paid leave. Such state safeguards will make a significant difference in the lives of millions of workers. Proponents of new policies can also make headway in Washington by using states as testing grounds.

However, if Congress and red states continue to do nothing, there will be a cost. Imposing higher standards in blue states effectively serves as a subsidy for red states, which attract businesses by lowering taxes and regulations. Raising national standards is critical to protecting the higher state standards. Consistency in state laws erodes the national sense of shared circumstances. The federal government’s underappreciated role is to impose a certain amount of uniformity for the sake of uniformity.

READ ALSO: Indiana Legislature Aims To Improve Child Care Tax Credit 2023

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