President Obama sounded some seemingly universal themes about the importance of child care and early learning and the challenges faced by the middle class during his Thursday speech in Lawrence.
But he might have saved his breath, as the priorities he outlined in his State of the Union speech and underscored at the University of Kansas are not on the agenda of a newly GOP-controlled Congress focused on reducing federal spending – and whatever political capital he once had is dwindling.
It was great to hear an American president mention Wichita, Augusta and El Dorado, and reflect on how his grandmother Madelyn Dunham had access to universal child care while working on a bomber assembly line in Wichita during World War II.
He would triple the maximum child care tax credit to $3,000 and enable as many as 1 million young children to attend subsidized preschool and Head Start. The ideas were dismissed by the spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, as “more top-down policies” the president proposes to pay for with “tax hikes on middle-income families.”
Americans should demand that Republican lawmakers, including the entire Kansas delegation, not just say “no” but present their own ideas for achieving better access to affordable, high-quality child care and for helping the middle class in other ways.
As Obama said to the KU crowd, “Tell me how we’re going to do the things that need to be done.”
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman