President Biden will detail a proposal for $200 billion universal preschool program on Wednesday as part of the massive infrastructure and spending plan he is expected to detail during his first address to Congress.
The preschool initiative is part of Biden’s “American Families Plan,” the $1.8 trillion second phase of the administration’s infrastructure and spending package. The initial phase, dubbed the “American Jobs Plan,” is projected to cost $2.2 trillion with investments in physical infrastructure, job training and care for elderly and disabled Americans. The cumulative price tag of the Biden administration’s proposals is expected to surpass $4 trillion.
Biden’s plan calls for a federal partnership with state governments on a program that would provide free preschool for all children aged three and four years old. A White House official said the proposal would benefit five million children and save the average family $13,000 in related costs if it is fully enacted.
“These investments will give American children a head start and pave the way for the best-educated generation in U.S. history,” the official said.
The Biden administration argues investments in a preschool program would boost the economy by allowing more parents to participate in the workforce. The $200 billion investment will allow for low student-to-teacher ratios as well as “high-quality and developmentally appropriate curriculum,” the official added.
Under the proposal, federal employees who participate in the program will receive job training and earn a guaranteed wage of $15 per hour. Biden first unveiled his plan for a universal preschool program last July, months ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Prominent GOP lawmakers have pushed back on Biden’s spending plans, arguing his proposals are too costly and contain a comparatively small level in investment in badly needed physical infrastructure projects. Republicans have also argued that Biden’s plan to cover the cost would eliminate jobs and slow economic growth.
Biden has proposed sweeping reforms to the corporate tax code, including an increase in the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%. The administration would also seek to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, though Biden has stressed that the hikes will only effect Americans earning more than $400,000.
The president is expected to outline key elements of his “American Families Plan” during his primetime address to a joint session of Congress. With little Republican support in the Senate, Democratic lawmakers face a difficult path to securing the 60 votes required to bypass the filibuster.