1. Florida Politics

Trump unveils plan to ease burden on working parents

ASTON, Pa. — Donald Trump unveiled a menu of proposals Tuesday to ease the burden on working parents, calling for six weeks of mandatory paid maternity leave and expanded tax credits to help pay for child care.

The proposals, which Trump outlined in the politically critical Philadelphia suburbs along with his daughter Ivanka, represent a new attempt to court female voters whose support has eluded the Republican presidential nominee.

"It's pro-family, it's pro-child, it's pro-worker," Trump said in releasing his plan at a rally here Tuesday night. "These are the people we have to take care of."

Hillary Clinton, Trump's Democratic rival, issued her plan more than a year ago, and it guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for a newborn or a sick relative, financed by an increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Under her plan, Clinton would cap those costs at 10 percent of a family's income, relying on tax cuts and subsidies to make up the difference.

Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump spoke about the issue at the Republican National Convention in July, but the candidate had not mentioned it publicly until Tuesday. Donald Trump faces a potentially record-high gender gap with women, but pushing the proposal so close to the election risks looking slapdash on a serious topic.

Trump first proposed the child care initiative weeks ago, but he broadened it to help working parents after facing criticism that his initial proposal would primarily help high earners rather than women and families on the lower end of the economic spectrum.

But the new recommendations contained a number of uncertainties, most notably how Trump would pay for them, and they still favor people with higher incomes. The candidate's aides said that his goals would be achieved through a change in the tax code to help pay for child care, to be detailed in another speech.

The main thrust of Trump's plan involves a reordering of the tax code so working parents can take an income tax deduction for care of up to four children and older-adult dependents. The deduction is for individuals earning up to $250,000, or $500,000 for a married couple filing jointly. There would also be child care spending rebates as high as $1,200 a year for families on the lower end of the income scale.

Another proposal aimed at lower-income parents is a Dependent Care Savings account, a version of a flexible spending account usually offered by employers. Such accounts would be universally available and used for after-school or traditional child care, with a government match of $500 a year.

Among the open questions are whether the deductions that working parents could claim would replace the existing earned-income tax credit; whether there would be an age cap for the children involved; and what the actual scale of benefit would be for people of various incomes.

The signature element of the plan, six weeks of paid maternity leave for new mothers whose employers do not currently provide coverage, would be financed by eliminating fraud in unemployment insurance.