Jim Messina & Kevin Madden: A Year After Election, Early Childhood Education Remains Rare Unifying Issue

By Jim Messina & Kevin Madden

 

It has been one year since Donald J. Trump was elected President. Between then and now, the focus may seem tilted toward how voters are more divided than ever, with the headlines occupied by stories about division and gridlock.

But, despite all this rancor, when you talk to elected officials of either party from President, to Senators, to Congress, or Governors, they often have the same goals for their constituents: help them have a good job and provide a better life for their kids. It really is that simple.

That is why the issue of early childhood education is so important. Not only does having access to high-quality and affordable early childhood education help young children develop socially and academically, it allows parents to stay in, return to, or join the workforce – financially benefitting families, and the economy.

And even more remarkable from a political standpoint, early childhood education receives broad bipartisan support. In fact, 79% of voters—including 80% of Trump voters and 79% of Clinton voters—want Congress and the administration to work together to improve the quality of child care and preschool, and make it more affordable for parents.

With tax reform under way, lawmakers have a golden opportunity to work together and deliver on the promise so many made to their constituents. Currently, the tax code has a provision known as the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC). This credit is meant specifically to help working parents with the cost of work-related child care expenses. The tax reform bill introduced last week in the House of Representatives leaves the CDCTC untouched. This is a missed opportunity to strengthen this important tax credit that has not kept up with the rising cost of child care in America.

81% of the electorate—including 74% of Trump voters—support providing a child care-specific tax credit to help parents better afford quality child care and early education programs, with low- and middle-income parents who need more help getting a larger credit. And 70% say we should increase the amount of the existing Child and Dependent Care Tax to $9,000 for one child to better reflect today’s child care costs. That includes 60% of Trump voters.

So rather than just maintaining this crucial credit, lawmakers should be looking to expand it.

As many will take stock of where we are one year from the election that shocked the world, and as others will look to the political future, we encourage them to think about the promises they made to their voters and how expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit can help fulfill those assurances.


Jim Messina is a Democratic political strategist who served as campaign manager for President Obama’s successful 2012 re-election campaign. He currently serves as president and CEO of The Messina Group. 

Kevin Madden is a Republican political and communications strategist who served as Senior Communications Strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. Today he a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs consulting firm.