Donald Trump gave what was billed as a major economic address to the Economic Club of New York last week. Overall, the speech was same song, umpteenth verse of well-worn Republican bromides. Across-the-board tax cuts, especially for corporations and the wealthy (no more “death tax!”), and getting rid of government regulation. This will of course bring jobs, jobs, jobs. Trickle-down economics redux. Works great in Kansas, where there’s an outright voter revolt over massive cuts to education and public services, due to those same no-taxes and jobs-in-the-sky promises.
But Trump’s so-called economic fixes for the nation’s majority — women — were woefully lacking.
His proposed slash of the top income-tax rate from 39.6% to 33% would definitely benefit upper-income female workers who earn more than $413,350 per year. But what of their lower-paid sisters, like the majority of minimum wage workers who happen to be adult women? No meat on that bone. These women already make so little they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (and often have to rely on Medicaid and Food Stamps to get by) so they don’t pay income tax, making the cuts meaningless. But all workers get hit with payroll taxes (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment), regardless of how little they make. Trump’s plan ignores this inconvenient truth for females, still getting 78 cents on the dollar for full time work when compared to men.
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The Donald is also smugly proud of his so-called child care plan, which you might think benefits women if you weren’t listening too closely. He proposed to “allow parents to fully deduct the average cost of child care” from income taxes. But making child care a deductible instead of a credit as it is now hits middle income workers hardest. The present Child and Dependent Care Credit comes off your tax bill whether you itemize or not. Changing it to a deduction means if you don’t itemize, you don’t get the deduction.
And besides, what does “average cost of child care” actually mean? Child care costs vary from state-to-state, arrangement-to-arrangement, and income-to-income. So presumably a mother such as Ivanka Trump — her father says she will be put in charge of child care reform — could deduct the cost of a high-priced live-in nanny. But those with a child in family day care or cared for by grandparents could deduct a comparative pittance or nothing at all.
His newly-minted maternity leave plan also has a hidden economic barb for women. Since it’s maternity leave only — no benefit for new dads and nothing for taking care of sick family members — it’s sexist on it’s face. But the deeper problem is how employers will view female workers if they’re of child-bearing age when there’s no comparable benefit for men. Better not promote her, she might get pregnant. For that matter, better hire the guy in the first place.
No doubt about it — Trump economic “fixes” for women only mean the fix is in.