Trump’s Effort to Attract Women Angers Fiscal Conservatives
Policy + Politics

Trump’s Effort to Attract Women Angers Fiscal Conservatives

Jonathan Ernst

In what appears to be an effort to shore up his dismal numbers with women, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is set to unveil a re-tool set of proposals covering paid maternity leave and tax breaks for childcare costs. Whether or not the promise of six weeks of maternity leave and a generous tax rebate for day care will sway female voters who have been turned off by Trump is an open question, but Trump’s plan seems certain to alienate fiscal conservatives and business owners.

According to information leaked to multiple news outlets in advance of a presentation by Trump and his daughter Ivanka in Pennsylvania this evening, Trump’s proposals will be very expensive, and his plan to pay for them is sketchy at best.

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Trump will propose six weeks of guaranteed paid maternity leave for all working women. Those whose employers do not offer paid maternity leave will receive it through the unemployment insurance system -- something that could have the perverse effect of making employers less likely to offer the paid leave in the first place.

“Our campaign is about getting things done for the American people, and we believe we've found a solution on paid maternity leave that could get very broad, bipartisan support and be completely self-financing,” a Trump aide said on a call with reporters Tuesday.

The campaign claims that Trump will be able to fund the program by eliminating fraud in the unemployment insurance program.

Trump will also propose a new set of tax breaks meant to compensate families at the rate of the average annual childcare cost in the state where they reside. Earlier this year, a previous Trump plan was ridiculed when a child care benefit was structured as a tax deduction -- something that would do little or nothing to help low-income families.

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The proposed child care tax benefit would be available to individuals making $250,000 or less and to families with a combined income of $500,000.

Another proposal is a new sort of tax-free flexible savings account that can be used to pay for dependent care. The definition of dependent care would be relatively wide, encompassing costs related to caring for an elderly parent as well as private school tuition for a child.

The Trump campaign insists that the tax breaks will be “deficit neutral” when viewed as part of a larger overhaul of the tax code that he has promised but has not yet detailed.

The reaction from conservatives already opposed to Trump has been predictably angry.

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Writing for Commentary, Noah Rothman fumed, “Promising the electorate the world in the campaign with every intention of working out the details after the election is hardly a new phenomenon, but it used to be one that Republicans rejected. Today, under Trump’s corrupting umbra, the GOP has become the party of wild assurances and cascading spending proposals with no intention of ever making good on them.”

Jay Nordlinger of the National Review snarked on Twitter, “All those great Reaganites and supply-siders behind Trump? They are ending their careers with ... federal maternity leave. Super.”

The Trump campaign promised that the candidate will reveal his proposal to restructure the federal tax code in a speech scheduled for later this week.