If Donald Trump has his way, Republicans in Congress next year would pass a plan providing federally-subsidized child care to Americans rich and poor, expanding a social safety net that conservatives have spent years trying to slim down.
During a speech in the Pennsylvania suburbs on Tuesday, Trump will unveil a proposal aimed at independent and women voters that his daughter, Ivanka, first promised two months ago at the Republican National Convention. As described by his campaign, the plan would allow individuals earning up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a couple) to deduct expenses for the care of up to four children or elderly relatives from their income taxes. It would also allow Americans in any income bracket to set up tax-advantaged accounts to save up for child and elder care expenses. Families who don’t earn enough to pay income taxes would see an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit that would net them as much as $1,200 more per year. And perhaps most significantly, the Trump plan would guarantee six weeks of paid maternity leave—although he would pay for it with cuts to the unemployment-insurance program.
Taken together, it’s a remarkable proposal from the leader of a party that has, on economic policy, shifted sharply to the right in the 16 years since George W. Bush campaigned on a slogan of “compassionate conservatism.” The key question about this plan is whether the GOP will embrace its vision of government-funded support for child care, or whether, like Trump itself, the party will dismiss it as an aberration come 2017.