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Elizabeth Warren proposes universal child care funded by taxing America's richest

The government would cover costs for families who make less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level

by Rex Santus
Feb 19 2019, 6:17pm

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has announced plans for a universal child-care program as part of her 2020 agenda in her bid for the White House, and she plans to fund it with a wealth tax on America’s richest.

The Massachusetts Democrat said the plan will allow the federal government to partner with local child-care providers to create daycare centers, preschools, and in-home options for everyone. The government would pick up a chunk of the total costs by providing all of it for free to families who make less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which starts at $12,490 per year for a household of one and adds an additional $4,420 per year for each additional family member. That means a family of four would get free child care unless their income exceeds $51,500. No family will have to pay more than 7 percent of their income on child care.

“My plan provides the kind of big, structural change we need to transform child care from a privilege for the wealthy to a right for every child in America,” Warren said in a blog post announcing the proposal. “That means free coverage for millions of children.”

No other 2020 candidate has put forth a formal policy plan for child care.

Warren noted that her entire plan could easily be covered by revenue generated under her wealth tax proposal, which she’s nicknamed the “ultra-millionaire tax.” Warren’s tax would rake in 2 percent of a person’s wealth annually if they are worth more than $50 million, which accounts for just a fraction of a percent of the total U.S. population. The tax would generate about $2.75 trillion in a decade, according to the senator’s estimates.

Warren, a former Harvard law professor, also said that her universal child-care plan would end up giving the economy a “huge boost.”

“More than a million child-care workers will get higher wages and more money to spend,” she wrote. “More parents can work more hours if they choose to, producing stronger economic growth. And a generation of kids will get the early instruction they need to be healthier and more productive members of society after high school and beyond.”

Warren is one of an increasingly crowded field of 2020 Democrats, and she has attempted to differentiate herself by pushing progressive economic ideas that benefit the middle class and poor while attacking the nation’s wealthiest. She pushed for and helped set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011, two years before she became a senator.

Cover: Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at an organizing event Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)