By Thomas Fitzgerald The Philadelphia Inquirer WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) With his daughter Ivanka by his side, Presidential candidate Donald Trump unveiled a multi-prong approach to supporting women at home and in the workplace. One of the proposals would include six weeks of paid maternity leave through the unemployment insurance system for women who do not receive it through their employers.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Donald Trump proposed new federal subsidies to make child care more affordable during a Delaware County campaign stop Tuesday, aiming to appeal to moderate women voters in the suburbs of Philadelphia and other cities who have resisted his candidacy.
The initiative, which includes a promise of paid maternity leave, would rely on a series of tax deductions and rebates for low-income households, and would offer a new tax-advantage savings account for dependent care.
"We need working mothers to be fairly compensated for their work, and to have access to affordable, quality child care for their kids," Trump said, speaking in soft tones as he touted the proposals at the Aston Community Center.
His proposals, he said, are "pro-family, pro-child, pro-worker."
Campaign officials said the Republican presidential candidate's daughter Ivanka Trump, a 34-year-old executive in the family's web of companies who has three small children, influenced the development of the proposals. She introduced her father and stood behind him as he spoke.
She acknowledged she was more fortunate than most.
"This must change. As a society we need to create policies that champion all parents, enabling the American family to thrive," Ivanka Trump said.
In some respects, the plan seemed a sharp break with Republican orthodoxy -- conservatives generally have resisted attempts to expand the social safety net and increase mandates.
"It should have been a Republican proposal a long time ago," said Rep. Renee Ellmers (R., N.C.), who was present along with five female colleagues from the House GOP caucus. She said Trump's plan relies on incentives and is flexible.
To have a hope of winning Pennsylvania for the GOP for the first time since 1988, Trump must improve his standing in the suburban counties around Philadelphia, GOP strategists say. Polls show he runs strongly among white working-class voters in Western Pennsylvania and in rural areas but has lagged in the Southeast.
A Franklin and Marshall College survey earlier this month, for instance, showed Democrat Hillary Clinton leading Trump, 45 percent to 31 percent, among likely voters in the southeastern counties.
Overall in the state, Clinton leads by an average of 6 percentage points in recent polls compiled by the website Real Clear Politics, an advantage that has narrowed since the Democratic convention in July.
Under Trump's plan, taxpayers will be able to deduct the average annual cost of child care in their state on federal income taxes. The benefit would apply to individual taxpayers making up to $250,000 and joint filers making up to $500,000.
For those with no tax liability, the earned income tax credit would be expanded to give a rebate of up to $1,200.
Trump also called for providing six weeks of paid maternity leave through the unemployment insurance system for women who do not receive it through their employers.
The plan also includes a new tax-advantage savings account that would allow people to save money for the care of children and elderly relatives. It would accrue from year to year, unlike some flexible savings accounts (FSAs).
Trump campaign officials could not assess the overall budget impact. The candidate said in his speech that the maternity-leave policy would be paid for by cleaning up fraud and improper payments in the unemployment insurance program, which some studies estimate at $3.3 billion a year. He said that economic growth and budget savings, which he plans to spell out Thursday, would make the proposals revenue-neutral.
The Clinton campaign zeroed in on Trump's maternity-leave proposal, saying it was insufficient and deceptive, because unemployment insurance would have to be cut to pay for it.
"After spending his entire career -- and this entire campaign -- demeaning women and dismissing the need to support working families, Donald Trump released a regressive and insufficient 'maternity leave' policy that is out-of-touch, half-baked and ignores the way Americans live and work today," said Maya Harris, a senior policy adviser to Clinton. "Instead of asking those at the top to pay their fair share, he's robbing Peter to pay Paul by raiding unemployment insurance funds, and giving the most to the wealthy while providing far less relief to middle-class and working families."
Clinton also has proposed a law to guarantee workers up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member, financed by an increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
She has called for limiting child-care costs to 10 percent of a family's income but has offered few details on that proposal.
"My opponent has no plan," Trump said.
While the tone of the speech was more wonkish than the typical Trump address -- and for the most part, he read from the Teleprompter -- he brought the crowd of several hundred to its feet with a reference to Clinton's recent talk of many Trump supporters as a "basket of deplorables," with racist, xenophobic, antigay, and anti-Muslim views.
"It's time to free ourselves from the baskets that politicians try to put us into -- and always have put us into -- I think you know what I'm talking about -- and instead to work together," Trump said.
"While my opponent slanders you as deplorable and irredeemable, I call you hardworking American patriots who love your country, love your families, and want a better future for all Americans."