Katie Porter Explains Why Subsidized Childcare Is The 'Fiscally Responsible' Thing To Do

Class War

Childcare is a necessity, and not just for those who have children and need it. It's a necessity for people who wish to have employees, it's a necessity for people like me who don't have kids but rely on goods produced and services rendered by those who do — and who also believe, like the late Whitney Houston, that the children are our future.

As such, it actually makes no logical or logistical sense whatsoever for this to be a thing we do piecemeal, with parents struggling to afford care for their children while they work jobs we need them to work and caregivers still making nowhere near enough money for a service we need them to perform. Thus, Democrats have included funding for paid leave and childcare in the $3.5 trillion (over 10 years) reconciliation "Build Back Better" bill.

In an appearance on MSNBC yesterday, California Rep. Katie Porter discussed why it is necessary for that funding to be included in the bill rather than as a stand-alone bill, despite the fact that Democrats like Joe Manchin have said they won't support it. Porter explained that the reason it needs to be included in a human infrastructure bill is that one of the lessons we learned during the pandemic is that not having childcare hurts our overall economy.


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Specifically, she said:

I am going to be honest, I have no earthly idea where the stand-alone bill is coming from. Chris Cuomo asked me about it last night. I have no idea who has given you this crazy talking point. Let me be clear. Women, parents, childcare aren't some special need, they're a building block of our budget and of our economy in the exact same way that environmental standards are, the exact same way that dealing with clean energy investment, dealing with health care. This needs to go in the same bill because it is about the same things.

Well that does seem fairly obvious. MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle, however, pressed Porter on the fact that Joe Manchin might not be the only Democrat out there who doesn't want to vote in favor of the bill, and perhaps there are other Democrats who are afraid to speak out and are letting him do so in their place.

One of the reasons it needs to be in the reconciliation bill, Porter explains, is that if it's a "stand-alone bill," it will be just as easy for many politicians to ignore as it has been for them to ignore the issue of childcare for the last several decades.

Let me take it in two separate pieces. The first piece, why should childcare be part of the bill. I partially addressed this. Let me make a practical point to you, Stephanie. If we had the men who have run this country for hundreds of years, the wealthy men whose wives and others have taken care of childcare, so convinced it was important, we would have done something about child care 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago when other countries did it. So, I am not today all of a sudden convinced we have the will to deal with childcare when we put off the issue decade after decade after decade.

Porter then noted that her colleagues love to talk about families and children and childcare, love to bring up equal pay, and that this bill offers them a perfectly lovely opportunity to actually do something about those issues. She also explained that passing the bill, along with the childcare component, is a hell of lot more "fiscally responsible" to raise money to pay for these things by requiring corporations to pay their fair share of taxes than it is to just ignore all of these things we desperately need.

With regard to Senator Manchin and others that want to talk about the price tag for this. Let me be clear, you're a business person, you get it, you can do the math. If something costs 'A,' you have two options. You can negotiate down from 'A' or find the money. We have revenue options on the table. There are a huge number of corporations that pay zero taxes and by making savvy revenue choices, for example, using real corporate profit approach to dealing with those corporations that pay zero, we can generate $700 billion. If we use the corporate minimum tax approach, we generate $40 billion. Right there. Right there, Senator Manchin, right there.

Anyone that's worried about spending, we can generate revenue so it isn't about $3.5 trillion in spending. We will generate revenue to pay for things. I have the will to do it. The question is does Senator Manchin or is he more concerned about his corporate donors, including the oil and gas industry, big pharmaceutical industry and others getting away with paying nothing under the current tax system.

This is something Manchin ought to be a little careful about in light of the news that his daughter was responsible for hiking up the cost of Epipens, creating a monopoly on them by bribing Pfizer not to make a generic version, and requiring people to buy two at a time. He owes us. He owes the American people for having raised the kind of monster that would gouge people like that, and perhaps the best way to start to make up for that is by voting for this bill, which will actually do something to improve all of our lives.

Let us also note that a key component of this bill is a provision that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, preventing them from at least gouging Medicare recipients in this manner. So that might have somewhat more to do with Manchin's opposition to the bill than simply thinking Americans are undeserving the kind of subsidized childcare people in other countries enjoy.

If there are other Democrats who are hoping that Manchin's opposition to the bill will be enough to kill it so that they don't have to say anything themselves or look bad to their constituents by voting against it, then that is a "them" problem, and one which they have the ability to solve by voting for the damn bill, even if they can afford their own childcare.

This is not a spending bill, it's an investment bill. It's an investment in our future and in our quality of life and it will save us all money. It will lead to people being able to earn more money themselves, meaning that they will then pay more in taxes. It will lead to more Democratic victories as well, because once people have things like subsidized childcare, they're not going to want to give them up. And hey! That might mean that Joe Manchin might not need quite so much money from his corporate donors to win elections. It all works out for everyone.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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