A news release from the White House says “the most hard-pressed working families” would pay nothing for childcare. Families earning up to 1.5 times their state’s median income would pay no more than 7% of their income.
In California, for example, that would apply to families making up to $112,850 or so, based on census data. In Mississippi, the country’s poorest state, it would cover families making up to around $67,620. Maryland has the country’s highest median income, and it would cover families making up to $127,200 there.
The plan mentions a sliding scale between 0 and 7 percent for qualified families, but does not provide specific income brackets. A family at the upper end of the income scale in California would pay about $7,900 per year on childcare. That could amount to $10,000 in savings depending on the child’s age and the type of facility, based on information from kidsdata.org. The White House says the average family could save around $14,800 per year.
It also pledges funding to “provide the true cost of quality early childhood education.” The bill also would cover pre-school and community college.
But all of this only matters if the plan gets through Congress, which is hardly a sure thing. It may have the votes in the Democratic controlled House, but could face a Republican roadblock in the evenly split Senate.
Ten Senate Republicans would need to join Democrats to vote for the bill, which weighs in at $1.8 trillion. The childcare provisions alone cost $225 billion. The White House says tax increases on Americans making more than $400,000 per year would cover part of the cost.
Senate Democrats could try to pass it under the same reconciliation rules they used for the most recent round of pandemic stimulus. But, even one defector would tank the effort, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D, W.Va.) has said he opposes relying on that method again.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he expects united Republican opposition to the president’s families plan and infrastructure bill as they’re currently written, citing the $4 trillion combined cost.