Jun 18, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren: What to know about the 2020 candidate's child care proposal

Elizabeth Warren in Iowa

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) plans to combat child care costs and inequality with the Universal Child Care and Early Learning plan, which would be paid for through her "Ultra-Millionaire Tax."

Driving the news: Warren, who first announced the proposal in February, brought forth corresponding legislation with Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) on Tuesday.

The state of play: Currently, the average cost of child care for 1 child is between 9% and 36% of a family's total income, which increases with multiple children or for single parents, per the Economic Policy Institute. The Department of Health and Human Services defines child care as "affordable" if it costs no more than 10% of a family's income.

Warren's proposal by the numbers

  • Total cost is $1.7 billion or $700 billion over the next 10 years.
  • Costs are capped at 7% of a family's income.
  • Child care coverage is free to any family that makes less than 200% of the federal poverty line. Low-income families can expect to pay 20% of child care services as the federal government pays 80%. Middle income families can expect to pay 50%.

Warren backs her proposal will come with a handful of long-term effects:

  • Increases child care employment.
  • More discretionary spending for low-income and middle-income Americans.
  • Mandates higher pay for child care workers to ensure better care.

Key criticisms

  • Lacks detail how high quality child care will be ensured.
  • Heavily regulated child care could drive providers out of business due to high costs.
  • There are many other progressive initiatives with heavy price tags among the Democratic party that could bury child care, like the Green New Deal, the student debt crisis and health care.

The big picture: Expect to see more 2020 candidates roll out child care proposals. The budgets for those plans could be paid for either by taxing the wealthy, with tax credits or block grants.

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar told "Meet the Press" that she plans to repeal the most aggressive portions of the Republican tax bill to collect $100 billion over time, which would go toward family leave in child care.
  • All Democratic senators in the 2020 race are co-sponsors of the Child Care for Working Families Act.

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