Today, Senator John Kerry announced new after-school and child care tax credit initiatives. His speech is part of a renewed focus on easing the "middle class squeeze." Yesterday, Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative Rosa DeLauro introduced a bill guaranteeing employees paid time off for their own or a family member's illness.
The emphasis on families and the pressures on them is exactly right. American families are experiencing a "family budget shock" as a result of three reinforcing trends: stagnating incomes, increasing fixed costs and declining benefit coverage. These reform proposals directly address the family's bottom line and the level of care they can provide their kids.
Public officials and politicians who offer solutions that help the family budget demonstrate they "get" how the economy affects real families. Arnold Schwartzenegger saw this. He championed an after-school initiative before running for Governor. President Bill Clinton campaigned on the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1992 and made sure it was the first bill he signed. He mentioned it in every State of the Union Address. This year, both President Bush and Senator Kerry have proposed making permanent marriage penalty relief and expansion of the child tax credit.
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