US Senator Bob Casey will read “Caps for Sale” to the Pre-K class of the Step by Step School for Early Learning on Wednesday, August 18. Photo by Geoff Rushton | StateCollege.com
US Senator Bob Casey stopped in the state college area Wednesday morning to discuss his comprehensive law plan to help American children.
At the Step By Step School for Early Learning on Sandy Drive in Ferguson Township, the Pennsylvania Democrat visited teachers Alyssa Cave and Michelle Morales’ Pre-K classroom to read to 4- and 5-year-olds and watch them conduct a science experiment he met with reporters to discuss his “Five Freedoms for America’s Children”.
The plan, whose name is reminiscent of Franklin Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech, addresses a variety of issues for children and families, including guaranteed health care, expanded child tax breaks, investments in early childhood education and daycare, anti-hunger programs and money for the prevention of abuse and neglect.
Casey said the “strategic vision for our children” would improve the lives of large numbers of American families, but it would also be an investment in national priorities.
“Whether it is a highly skilled workforce, whether it is our ability to outperform economic competitors like China and other nations, whether we have a military that is prepared for the challenges, whether it is a growing gross domestic product or economic growth, it seems as if one In relation to a national goal or strategic imperative, no matter where you turn, you cannot part with the investments we need to make in our children, ”said Casey.
At the beginning of 2020, before COVID-19, he first presented a “Five Freedoms” plan. Since then, he has seen progress on some of his goals through the provisions of the US rescue plan signed in March. However, he said that many of the problems that children face in low- and middle-income families have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and he revised the plan for a new version unveiled in June.
About 90% of Center County’s 24,000 or so children would benefit, he said.
US Senator Bob Casey will read “Caps for Sale” to the Pre-K class of the Step By Step School for Early Learning on Wednesday, August 18. Photo: Geoff Rushton | StateCollege.com
Here’s a look at what Casey is suggesting and what he had to say about the plan.
• Freedom to be healthy: Would children be automatically enrolled in Medicaid at birth and would remain eligible for the program until they were 18 years old. Parents could still choose other insurance policies.
“Every child in America should have health insurance,” Casey said. “A parent might opt out and say, ‘I don’t want my child to be enrolled on Medicaid. I want them to be included in my employer plan or I want them to be included in the children’s health insurance program because I am eligible. ‘ But at least you would have no margin for error, which means we wouldn’t have 4 million American children like we do now who don’t have health insurance. “
• Freedom to be economically secure: savings accounts with deposits of $ 500 per year for children from families with less than $ 100,000; permanent expansion of the child tax credit
• Freedom to study: Head-start funding increased by $ 18 billion; Increase the tax credit for children and dependents; Increase in state subsidies for childcare blocks.
“The only problem with these programs is that there is a huge gap between those who are entitled to a head start and those who are being served, those who are entitled to childcare assistance and those who are receiving assistance” said Casey. “We need to make sure that at least the families and children who are currently eligible can be cared for, and that is simply not possible with current funding.”
• Freedom from hunger: expand direct certification and reimbursement for school catering programs.
• Freedom to be Safe from Harm: $ 5 billion in funding over 10 years for government grant programs for child protection services and child abuse prevention programs.
Senator Bob Casey will discuss his five freedoms for America’s children law plan on Wednesday, August 18 at the Step by Step School for Early Learning. Photo by Geoff Rushton | StateCollege.com
Of course, all of this would come at a heavy price, which Casey said would be paid for by “making the tax law much fairer for families.” The plan provides for a corporation tax rate hike to reduce the tax gap, introduce a minimum corporation tax of 15%, reset the top tax threshold of 39.6% to pre-2018 levels, and reset inheritance tax to pre-2017 levels with a tax exemption of $ 11 million.
Casey said the top 1% of Americans have received $ 1.2 trillion in tax cuts in the past 20 years.
“I think it’s an insult to America that a small group of Americans have been so wasted on tax cuts,” he said. “And honestly, we don’t have anything for it, and it is time we changed that.”
Visiting Step by Step, Casey said, “brings to life” the kind of early learning opportunities that his plan partially aspires to.
“This is one of those examples where kids can learn and engage in a place that has that quality,” he said. “If we keep quality high, like here, and affordability constant, we can have the best workforce in the world. Of course, in a daycare center it is both nursing and learning. It’s just very helpful to see how it literally comes to life in the children’s lives in a place like this. “
U.S. Senator Bob Casey will speak to the owners of the Step By Step School for Early Learning, Rachel and Rob Johnson on Wednesday, August 18. Photo: Geoff Rushton | StateCollege.com
Step by Step owners Rachel and Rob Johnson said they would appreciate it if Casey “put the importance and needs of early childhood education at the center”.
“If you don’t have a child, if … you don’t need them to get a job, I don’t think people realize how valuable it is,” said Rob Johnson. “I think the pandemic somehow brought that to light because a lot of the centers were closed or paused for a year and parents had nowhere to go.”
Rachel Johnson added that early childhood education institutions could use additional support as it was difficult to provide good wages to employees while keeping the cost of attendance affordable.
“The quality we talked about today cannot be achieved without qualified personnel,” she said.