Ivanka Trump, who styles herself a champion of working women, met with members of the House and Senate recently to propose a $500 billion child care tax benefit program. But experts talking to reporters say the plan has some major flaws.
In recent months since her father’s presidential campaign and election, Ivanka has made it clear that she will be advocating for women during her father’s presidency instead of being at the helm of her fashion lines and #WomenWhoWork campaign, although her personal website is currently (and has been for the past few years) marketed as “the ultimate destination for Women Who Work.” Last week, she met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the integral role of women in the workforce at the White House, so this doesn’t come as a surprise.
While it’s encouraging that Ivanka is trying to advocate for working women and moms, her plan is not exactly going to help all women–or the women who need it most, according to experts. It will primarily benefit wealthy women (who need help the least financially), according to economist Alan Cole. Cole told Bloomberg that “the largest benefits will go to relatively affluent dual-income families using paid child care.” Bloomberg reported that the plan would mostly help the rich:
“Individuals who earn less than $250,000 a year or couples who earn less than $500,000 would be able to deduct the cost of child care expenses from their income taxes. Lower-income families without tax liability would get a rebate for their expenses in the form of a larger earned income tax credit.”
Think of it this way: these kinds of programs require Americans to spend money on childcare, then go through a complicated system of reimbursements and tax credits to get some of that money back. But imagine if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, barely scraping by—it becomes difficult to do this.
“Though it is an improvement that low-income families would receive a credit if they do not have tax liabilities, the necessity of incurring expenses throughout the year and not receiving the credit until the end of the year is unworkable for most low income families,” Debra Fitzpatrick, the director of the Center on Women, Gender and Public Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, told Glamour magazine’s Maggie Mallon.
This basically means families with low-income and middle class families are, yet again, left out–which doesn’t help most Americans, and unfortunately illustrates the administration’s lack of concern for the average family. It’s not news that child care is grossly expensive and inaccessible for many. For instance, the 2015 report from the Economic Policy Institute discovered that “the high cost of child care means that a full-time, full-year minimum-wage worker with one child falls far below the family budget threshold in all 618 family budget areas—even after adjusting for higher state and city minimum wages.”
Translation: People can’t afford child care with their current incomes. This doesn’t make people lazy or not “hardworking”, it just makes the actual numbers impossible for those who aren’t privileged–or lucky enough to be born into affluent families (cough, cough).
One other problem with the plan? It apparently excludes non-female, non-gestational parents, including dads, plus queer and adoptive families. Glamour‘s Mallon notes:
“Trump’s paid leave policy reinforces gender stereotypes that suggest a mother is the only person who can—and should—care for a newborn child. By excluding primary caregivers who are not a child’s biological mother—be they LGBTQ or adoptive parents, grandparents who are caring for a newborn, or even biological fathers—it not only hinders their involvement during a child’s formative first few weeks, it has potential to place women at an economic disadvantage because employers may avoid hiring them (for the record, in 2004, Trump himself said that pregnancy was an “inconvenience” to employers).”
Nice try, Ivanka. Maybe do better next time?