Inside the candidates’ plans for paid leave and child care

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A woman kisses her son while standing in the audience as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Aston, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTSNMI3

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Child care is one of the biggest expenses many American families face, surpassing the cost of college tuition and rent in more than 30 states.

When it comes to providing paid family leave, the U.S. lags behind every other developed country in the world. It’s a cause long championed by Democrats. And now the Republican nominee for president is out with a new plan that seems to break with conservative orthodoxy.

Correspondent Lisa Desjardins reports.

LISA DESJARDINS: The two who would be president of all are focused on the very youngest Americans, our children. Outside of Philadelphia Tuesday night, Donald Trump became the first GOP nominee to propose paid family leave and child care help.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: We need working mothers to be fairly compensated for their work, and have access to affordable, quality child care for their kids.

LISA DESJARDINS: How would Trump provide that access and care? First, Trump would push for mothers, but not fathers, to receive six weeks of paid maternity leave. Then, he proposes that child care costs be fully deductible for families making less than $500,000 a year.

Total cost is not clear, but Trump says he would pay for this all by cracking down on unemployment insurance fraud. The family friendly turn is family-generated. Trump’s daughter Ivanka helped craft the policy, and today charged the Democratic nominee has failed.

IVANKA TRUMP, Daughter of Donald Trump: Hillary Clinton has been around for decades and there’s no policy benefiting either mothers or fathers in terms of paid leave.

LISA DESJARDINS: Ron Haskins is director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution.

RON HASKINS, The Brookings Institution: I think it’s quite a big deal for Republicans. Republicans have not been noted for making parental leave proposals. But it is at least somewhat surprising. I would even call it quite surprising that Trump would make a proposal like this. It wouldn’t get much support, I think, in a Republican Congress.

LISA DESJARDINS: Now to Hillary Clinton, who has stressed childhood issues for decades. What’s her plan? All parents would get 12 weeks of paid leave. Child care costs would be kept to 10 percent of the family’s income for most families, though Clinton hasn’t shown exactly how she’d achieve that. And she’d pay for it all by raising taxes on the wealthy.

Clinton would also use those taxes to make preschool universal starting at 4 years old.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: We have to make it easier to be good workers, good parents, and good caregivers, all at the same time.

LISA DESJARDINS: This is further than Clinton went just two years ago on mandatory paid leave, when she told CNN it was too soon politically.

But now things have changed. Both presidential nominees are pushing for paid family leave at the same time, and perhaps with good reason. Polling shows that paid family leave gets the support of over 70 percent of Americans over age 40, and that’s the same group that has the highest turnout in elections.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

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