Before Barack Obama exits stage Left, the Democrats have more plans up their sleeves in terms of “cementing his legacy” as an architect of the next stage of the Great Society. The newest proposal to be unveiled will be labeled “Universal Child Care” but it’s actually just a federal level plan to provide pre-K programs for toddlers in families earning less than 200% of the poverty level. Liberal gadfly Gred Sargent is eager to share the news.
Universal child care is becoming a central pillar of the liberal agenda — one that, if it is ever realized, could take its place alongside some of the great progressive reforms of the 20th Century, and possibly the Affordable Care Act, as a defining achievement of the Democratic Party.
I’m told that Senate Democrats in coming days will roll out a new universal pre-kindergarten proposal that would be funded by the closing of corporate tax breaks. If it gets a vote — and Dem leaders plan to push hard for one — it will put members of both parties on record as to whether they support national action to dramatically expand the availability of child care to poor and working families.
The proposal — to be introduced this week by Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania — is called the Strong Start for America’s Children Amendment, and Casey plans to introduce it as an amendment to a measure reauthorizing and overhauling No Child Left Behind, which will be debated in the Senate starting tomorrow.
The plan would spend $30B dollars which would be set aside in block grants and distributed to states which move on their own to provide high quality, universally available pre-school programs for four year olds in qualifying families. (The “qualifying” section is actually pretty clever, since rather than just providing these benefits to those actually in poverty it takes in a significant chunk of the middle class. It’s a populist gift wrapping technique.) States which already provide such services could take the money to expand them to three year olds.
And how will this be paid for? By cutting out “corporate tax loopholes.” That’s some of the new buzzspeak in liberal circles which takes the place of waste, fraud and abuse in times gone by. I still recall interviewing Joe Scarborough once when he described some of the sausage making which went on during the crafting of legislation back when he was serving in Congress. When it came time to discuss how it would be paid for they would write something down about curbing waste, fraud and abuse. Then everyone would laugh. They knew it was a joke.
Cutting out loopholes is the new version of this, though it has the virtue of being somewhat more specific. Generally it translates into taking more money from Big Widget, where widget can mean Pharma, Oil, or whichever liberal boogeyman is the target of the week. In this case it’s a bit more general, targeting any companies with overseas holdings who declare earnings in nations with less outrageous corporate tax rates. The problem with this is that any time you begin simply tinkering with the edges of the massive, broken tax code it’s like trying to put eels back into a bucket. You may cut out one piece of the mess, but it’s being done by the same people who put all of the giveaways there in the first place and who will be getting calls about a new “fix” from donors that same evening.
As to the pre-K proposal, it sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I’m sure everybody would love to see kids getting free preschool care. Heck, I’d love to see them all get a free pony. Everybody should have lots of “free” stuff paid for by the government, as well as a higher pay, more time off and early retirement with full pension and benefits. (Wait… didn’t Greece try that?) But the fact is, this is yet another dive into the morass of the education system. The reason No Child Left Behind was such a disaster (just like Common Core) is that we’ve already learned that one size fits all federal solutions don’t work when the situation on the ground is so different among the various states.
Knowing this, there’s every chance that this won’t pass, but that’s not the point of the current proposal anyway. Sargent pulls away the mask in the quote I embedded above and let’s you know the real reason this is being pushed onto the table. Did you catch it?
… it will put members of both parties on record as to whether they support national action to dramatically expand the availability of child care to poor and working families.
This is a Look At How The Republicans Hate The Poor vote. And that’s the only thing it’s meant to accomplish.