Bernie Sanders is a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist
Fresh off a decisive caucus win in Nevada, US Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders has unveiled a $1.5tn (£1.1tn) universal childcare plan.It promises free childcare and early education, funded by a wealth tax.It comes ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic debate in South Carolina – the next state to vote to choose a candidate to face Donald Trump in November.The contest is seen as key for former vice-president Joe Biden, who trailed Mr Sanders in Nevada last week.What does Sanders’s plan say?”We know that the first four years of a child’s life are the most important years of human development, so it is unconscionable that in the wealthiest country in the world, we do not properly invest in early childhood education,” Mr Sanders said in a statement.The Vermont senator’s plan would guarantee “free full-day, full-week, high-quality child care from infancy through age three, regardless of income”, as well as pre-kindergarten education from age three, with “mandated low child-to-adult ratios”.His plan would also ensure childcare and education workers earn “a living wage”. Early education programmes would be paid for by the federal government but administered by the states.
Childcare in America is unaffordable for many families
“Our current child care and early education system in the United States is an international embarrassment,” the plan states.”By taxing the extreme wealth of the top 0.1%, we can invest $1.5tn over the next decade on guaranteeing free, universal, quality child care and early education for all.”Mr Sanders’s signature Medicare for All plan is also pricey. His 2016 campaign estimated it will cost $1.38tn per year, though opponents say it could be double that. Mr Sanders’s more moderate rivals have often criticised his expensive policies as being unfeasible.Mr Biden and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren have also put forth childcare proposals. Mr Biden’s calls for universal pre-school for three- and four-year-olds. Ms Warren’s would also use a wealth tax to subsidise childcare and early education. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has pledged to spend $700bn in a decade to subsidise similar programmes.