A prominent liberal think tank has discovered a glaring red flag at the heart of Biden’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. In a report posted last week, Matt Bruenig, founder and director of the People’s Policy Project, revealed that the Democratic child care plan embedded in Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill would increase the cost of child care for millions of middle-class families by an average of more than $13,000 per year. In response, Democrats are now actively working to discredit Bruenig and his findings.
One of the supposed benefits of Biden’s multi-trillion dollar bill constantly touted by the administration has been the promise of expanded access to affordable child care for middle-class families with young children across the country. Simultaneously, they have also promised to improve wages for childcare workers. To that end, under the Democratic plan, child care workers would have their income increased, via taxpayer subsidies, to match that of elementary school teachers – amounting to a staggering 138 percent increase. In addition, middle-class families would also receive subsidies via a “sliding-scale income-based copayment.” Families who meet certain income criteria would pay a certain amount and the federal government would pay the rest.
According to the liberal think tank, this is where the problems arise. Under the Biden plan, if a family makes as much as one dollar above the median household income (roughly $67,000 in 2020), they will lose all subsidies. As a result, average families would be forced to pay unsubsidized and massively inflated prices for basic childcare. According to Bruenig, the unsubsidized price of childcare would go from $15,888 per year to $28,970 per year under the Biden plan. For families just above the median income level in their state, such an increase would be devastating, as they would be forced to pay the entire unsubsidized cost.
The “scale” would be removed three years after the plan is implemented, opening up subsidies to all families. Until that time, however, Bruenig predicts:
There will be many dual-earning couples who cannot afford child care if both of them continue to work but could afford childcare if one of them quit their job and thereby brought their family income below the eligibility cutoff. Normally people who quit jobs to take care of their kids do so in order to save the money they’d have to spend on child care. Under this plan, they have to quit their job in order to afford child care!
If the experience of Obamacare and subsequently skyrocketing healthcare premiums teaches us anything, it’s that whatever the government subsidizes to make it “affordable” soon becomes dramatically more expensive.
Bruenig, a leftist, does offer several “solutions” as to how Democrats could supposedly fix the issue he points out in their plan. Democrats, however, would have none of it. Apparently they want a quick political win now, even if it means catastrophe for American families later. Within days of Bruenig publishing his report, Democratic partisans pounced on him. A Politico story suggested Democrats were working to “dull a dagger aimed — from the left, of all places — at their much-touted plan to make child care more affordable for American families.” Advocates for the Biden plan called Bruenig’s argument “illogical” and “not based on a close reading.” Conservative think tanks, like the Heritage Foundation and CATO Institute, have raised similar concerns to Bruenig’s. Democrats have gotten away with summarily dismissing them as “partisan” – but they can’t do that so easily with one of their own.
Bruenig has faced such an extreme backlash to his report that he has been forced to write not one, but two follow-up pieces defending his argument. While he acknowledges the critics, he points out that no one has refuted the crux of his argument: that the Biden plan will increase the cost of child care for many middle class families
As negotiations drag on over the bill, Democrats may be forced to slash the $3.5 trillion price tag by as much as $1.6 trillion. While the child care credit will likely remain in the bill, some analysts predict that the size of the subsidies will decrease. However, the hostility Democrats have demonstrated toward a fellow progressive for even questioning the effectiveness of the program further calls into question just how much scrutiny the various provisions of the bill have faced. Other aspects of the bill may have similar issues. For months, Democrats have failed to effectively explain to the American people what exactly is in the bill. Perhaps major flaws like this one are the reason why.
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