As negotiations over his national agenda continue in Congress, President Biden hit the road Friday to stress the importance of improving government-funded child care programs in the United States.
“When you give working families a break, we are not only improving their quality of life, we are positioning our country to be competitive in the future,” he said in a keynote address. daycare in Hartford, Connecticut.
An outlier among wealthy countries when it comes to public spending on child care for toddlers, the United States lags Norway at the top of nearly $ 30,000 spent per child per year. Biden and the White House cited rankings from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that place the United States 35th out of 37 countries in terms of public investment in early childhood education and care.
The president opened his remarks on Friday by discussing his own experience as a single father following the deaths of his wife and young daughter shortly after he became a senator, saying: “A lot of people are in desperate need of of an establishment like this and of a child to care. ” He said he didn’t appreciate its importance as a young county councilor, but things changed after the accident shortly after his first Senate election in 1972.
“I was making a living wage as a US senator, $ 42,000 a year – and it was a living wage, and I couldn’t afford child care,” Biden continued. “Everyone is wondering why I was commuting every day, 265 miles a day, to commute with my kids. I could afford the train. It was cheaper to be able to take it every day so that I could kiss my boys. “
The high cost of these programs has caused some parents to leave the workforce to care for their children, but educators often do not earn a living wage. Democrats have proposed lowering child care costs for parents while increasing wages for providers. Likewise, Biden’s new plan would create a universal pre-K curriculum for children aged 3 and 4, increasing the number of years of public education.
Additionally, Democrats hope to extend the expanded child tax credit, which was passed in March as part of the US bailout. If an extension is passed, most Americans would receive up to $ 300 per month per child under 17. Since the credit is fully refundable, even the lowest income families who earn too little to pay taxes would benefit fully.
In August, the Center on Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University found that the addition of the child tax credit payments paid in July had lifted 3 million children out of poverty. Because not everyone who qualifies for credit receives it – a problem the Internal Revenue Service and local groups are working to address – the analysis estimated that the credit would reduce child poverty even further, adding that “the biggest gains [would] be made for black and Latino children. If the credit isn’t extended in the budget deal, the program’s new features – larger monthly payments to more Americans – will expire.
For the budget accord to pass in the Senate, all 50 caucus members with Democrats must agree to its terms. Biden has repeatedly said he has 48 senators on board with the agenda, but centrist Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona remain refractory.
Manchin said he did not want to promote a “culture of law” and would like to tie any extension of tax credits to work or education requirements. He also said he was in favor of limiting the number of Americans eligible for credits. Axios reported last week that Manchin asked his colleagues to choose only one of Biden’s three proposals – the expanded child tax credit, child care subsidies, or paid family medical leave – to include in the bill.
During Thursday’s briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stressed that the President remains staunch in his desire to have full support for childcare as part of his infrastructure program. . Psaki would not say, however, that the child care arrangements represent a “red line” for the president in terms of budget negotiations.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hinted in a letter to colleagues on Monday that she was reluctant to acquiesce to moderates like Manchin who want to cut Biden’s agenda through the budget deal. So far, however, the size of the package has already shrunk by $ 1,000 billion from the White House’s initial figure of $ 3.5 trillion.
“Overall, the advice I get from members is to do fewer things right so that we can still have a transformative impact on families in the workplace and responsibly deal with the climate crisis: A Rebuild program. better for jobs and the planet For children, ”wrote Pelosi.
On Tuesday, Pelosi said his caucus is committed to keeping the pre-K universal community college, tuition-free and the child tax credit in the final framework.
“We have important decisions to make in the next few days in order to be able to continue. I’m very disappointed that we weren’t going with the original $ 3.5 trillion, which was very transformative, but whatever we do, we will be making decisions that will continue to transform women in the workplace, ” Pelosi said on Friday.
Biden admitted in his remarks Friday that he would be forced to make budget concessions.
“To be honest with you, we’re probably not going to get $ 3.5 trillion,” he said. “We’re going to get something less than that.”
In recent days, the White House has become frustrated with Congress’ failure to pass the president’s infrastructure package, according to multiple reports. Psaki said Thursday that Biden was “eager to keep” his promises. With the president’s approval ratings having plummeted in recent weeks, Democrats are increasingly worried about next year’s midterm elections and are increasingly worried about the need for a legislative victory for the ‘administration.
Budget committee chairman and key progressive negotiator, Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Has become publicly frustrated with the reduced deadline to salvage a budget compromise.
“The time is right,” Sanders said on a press call Tuesday. “To me, it’s not negotiable, it’s what the American people want.”
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