Trump 2020 budget request includes $1bn childcare fund

US President Donald Trump speaks alongside senior advisor and daughter Ivanka Trump (R) during the first meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 6, 2019. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Donald Trump and Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump held the first meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board this month

US President Donald Trump has filed a record budget request that includes a $1bn (£765m) childcare fund, championed by his daughter and adviser, Ivanka.

Mr Trump’s $4.75tn spending plan is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

The policy wish list includes a significant boost to Pentagon spending, and steep cuts to safety net programmes.

The Republican president also seeks $8.6bn for a US-Mexico border wall.

The $1bn childcare plan is a one-off allocation that would seek to improve access to care for underserved populations.

Ivanka Trump, who has made women’s economic issues her main focus, also lobbied for the childcare tax credit that found its way into the 2017 Republican tax reform bill.

Annual full-time childcare in the US can cost up to $22,600 on average, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Affordable childcare is set to become a campaign issue next year as Democrats seek to thwart President Trump’s bid for re-election.

Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren has already touted her plan for affordable childcare, which would be paid for with a new tax on multimillionaires.

Childcare around the world

In the UK, low-income families can be covered for up to 85% of childcare costs.

Parts of Germany and Finland offer free all-day care for every child up to the age of six.

In Denmark, childcare costs are capped at a certain percentage of a family’s income.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The 2020 budget will also reportedly fund Ms Trump’s global women’s fund initiative

Ivanka Trump also received credit for childcare policies that Mr Trump promised during his 2016 campaign.

These included a proposal for six weeks of parental leave paid out of deductions from the mother or father’s future pension, but that plan has stalled in Congress.

Presidential budget proposals are typically meant to outline the administration’s policy goals and are mostly rebuffed by Congress, which exerts constitutional control over all federal spending.

What else is in the budget request?

Mr Trump’s blueprint proposes across-the-board cuts, with the exception of the military, whose budget Mr Trump wants to increase from $716bn to $750bn.

The spending plan includes over $1tn in cuts to the Medicaid health programme for the poor and disabled.

It also seeks to slash $327bn from food and housing assistance services, and to reduce funding for environmental protections and foreign aid programmes.

A political window-dressing

Presidential budgets, even when the president’s party controls Congress, are little more than political window-dressing – a roadmap to a destination that can never be reached.

When, as today, the political opposition controls a chamber of Congress, they’re worth less than the paper they’re written on.

While the president may claim that he is pushing a childcare plan, and try to campaign on it in 2020, the reality is the proposal is dead on arrival in Congress.

Even if the president exerted political muscle on the issue, a determination that has been missing to date, Democrats appear in no mood to cooperate.

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Media captionFive questions about Trump’s border wall

What about President Trump’s planned wall?

Mr Trump has asked for $8.6bn in border wall funding, a request that congressional Democrats pronounced dead on arrival.

After he last month declared the border crisis a national emergency, the president hopes to raid $3.6bn from military spending.

He declared the emergency after lawmakers refused his request for $5.7bn, allocating $1.3bn for border barriers instead.

Congress will vote on revoking the measure this week, but Mr Trump has promised to veto any such decision.

The emergency declaration followed a partial government shutdown that saw federal workers go unpaid for 35 days.

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