[Editor’s note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates and covered Joe Biden’s plan for moms here. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]
Election Day is nearly here and mothers in the United States have so much on their minds. Moms are concerned about paid leave, health care, childcare costs, racism and maternal mortality (among other things).
The pandemic and the resulting economic fallout have made many parents realize how important these issues truly are. Before you vote you should have all the information you need.
President Trump’s plan for paid parental leave
It seems like a lifetime ago now, because 2020 has thrown so much at us in such a short period of time, but just eight months ago, back in February, President Trump was standing before the nation delivering his State of the Union address.
Support for families and paid leave were key topics that night, with the president stating that he was “proud to sign the new law offering parents in the [federal] workforce paid family leave, serving as a model for the rest of the country.”
Under President Trump’s administration, more than 2 million federal workers gained access to 12 weeks of paid parental leave. This was historic, and is an important building block that future presidents can use in the quest to give the rest of the workers in the United States access to this vital benefit.
Because while 2 million federal workers gained access to paid leave under President Trump in October 2020, there are more than 157 million Americans working across the nation.
The work isn’t done yet, and President Trump’s plan to increase access to paid leave is unclear.
President Trump’s impact on affordable childcare
Childcare is absolutely critical for working parents, but the cost and availability of quality childcare was already a national crisis before the pandemic made it even worse.
President Trump was aware of this before he was even president. Back on the campaign trail in 2016, Trump promised change and noted that “we need working mothers to be fairly compensated for their work, and to have access to affordable, quality child care for their kids.”
The issue of childcare followed Trump from the campaign trail to the presidency and was championed by his daughter and Senior Advisor, Ivanka Trump, throughout his first presidential campaign and subsequent administration.
In late 2019, President Trump promised that the last year of his first term would see quality, affordable child care become more accessible. He doubled the federal child tax credit to $2,000, increased block grants and his administration issued Principles for Child Care Reform that aimed to “improve access to affordable, high quality childcare and support working families by taking steps to increase investment, build the supply of childcare, cultivate the childcare workforce, and improve options for families across a range of high quality settings,” according to the White House.
And then COVID-19 arrived and the childcare crisis deepened. And it’s become so clear that the United States will need affordable childcare to be part of the plan for economic recovery.
In his first term President Trump was able to make changes to childcare affordability through The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and funding increases for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Head Start programs and the Preschool Development Grant program, and decide how it can build on what has been done.
President Trump was right when he said that working mothers need access to affordable, quality childcare, but his campaign has not presented a clear plan for how he would use his second term to give it to them.
President Trump’s plan for maternal mortality
Mothers in the United States—especially Black and Native American mothers—die far too often from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Black women in the United States are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes.
Fathers are going home from the hospital with a baby and without their partner. Children are growing up never knowing their mothers—and the nation needs to know exactly why so that similar cases can be prevented before they become tragedies.
And so in 2018, President Trump authorized federal funding for maternal mortality review committees when he signed the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act.
The act funds committees that review each mother’s individual case, so that lawmakers can set up specific safeguards to keep moms alive—and keep systemic bias and racism from turning non-fatal medical events into preventable deaths, family tragedies and generational trauma.
Of course, so much more work needs to be done to protect BIPOC mothers in America, but signing this was an important step…unfortunately, we don’t know what the next steps in President Trump’s plan are.
His campaign platform does not address maternal mortality.
President Trump’s plan to address systemic racism
Of course maternal mortality rates are not the only area where systemic racism and bias impact American families. Every day, BIPOC mothers fear for their children’s safety.
President Trump has claimed to have done more for Black Americans than any other president besides Lincoln, but during the final presidential debate he avoided answering a question regarding whether he understands why Black parents in America fear for their children.
His actions and comments during the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, as well as his previous failure to immediately condemn white supremacy when asked have many Americans challenging his assertion. In the final debate he said he “doesn’t know what to say” to people concerned that his actions have fueled race divisions in America.
President Trump’s plan for health care
“I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not,” he said. “Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”
That’s a lofty and admirable goal, and one that proved very hard to accomplish in a nation where giving birth can put a person into debt and 5-figure hospital bills are a normal thing that trends on Twitter.
President Trump never got to the point of taking care of everybody before the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic struck about 2.5 million more working-age Americans were uninsured, the Associated Press reports.
This data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey. It shows that in 2019 14.5% of adults ages 18 to 64 were uninsured. In 2018, only 13.3% lacked coverage. The CDC says that those who could not afford insurance are more likely to be in a high risk group for contracting COVID-19.
President Trump wanted to get Americans the health care they need and deserve—he said that a lot—but he was not able to make it happen. His regulatory changes to require hospitals to disclose prices to insurers and individuals have had little practical impact on families dealing with massive health care costs and confusing insurance plans.
President Trump wasn’t able to “take care of everybody.” And when the pandemic hit so many people wished that he had been able to. Recent estimates show millions more are now uninsured thanks to pandemic job losses.
President Trump says if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act he will “come up with” something great to replace it, but we don’t know the details of what that replacement would be, only that it would be a “brand new, beautiful” plan, according to President Trump.
These top reusable hand warmers of 2020 won’t be too hot to handle — but they will come in handy when it’s cold outside.
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced each other tonight in the final presidential debate. The Commander-in-Chief and the former Vice President were reunited after spending their previous debate time slot in different studios, in different cities, on different networks.
That night the President took a lot of tough questions from NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, and tonight her colleague Kristen Welker, a White House correspondent for NBC News and Weekend Today co-anchor, questioned both the president and Joe Biden.
Welker chose the topics for tonight’s debate: COVD-19, national security, race in America, leadership and American families. And here’s what was said.
On the COVID-19 pandemic
President Trump took the first question, explaining how he would lead the nation through the next phase of the pandemic. He spoke about his own treatment for COVID-19, suggested he is now immune to the virus and stated that it’s going away. Fact checkers were quick to challenge Trump’s claims, as well as his claim that a vaccine will be approved and in use soon. His opponent Joe Biden also challenged Trump’s claim that the pandemic is over soon, noting that scientists don’t agree.
The World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, recently predicted the vaccine will be available to the most vulnerable near the middle of 2021, but stated “an average person, a healthy, young person, might have to wait until 2022 to get a vaccine.”
Welker asked Biden why he hasn’t ruled out more shutdowns in the United States as the pandemic progresses. Biden explained that he is not for shutting down the country, but supports closing gyms, bars and other businesses to encourage social distancing when necessary. Biden called for more funding for schools to maintain social distancing while staying open, and President Trump stated that he’s in favor or keeping schools open, pointing out that his young son Baron, age 14, recovered from COVID-19 without incident.
On national security
Welker transitioned to national security, and concerns that Russia and Iran are attempting to interfere with this election.
Joe Biden vowed to protect the sanctity of elections and stated: “Any country, no matter who it is, who interferes with our elections will pay a price.”
President Trump stated that he is tough on Russia and shifted the narrative in his response, suggesting that Biden has taken money from foreign countries (something Biden denied in his rebuttal). There is no credible proof that Joe Biden has ever received money from a foreign actor. His son, Hunter Biden, was accused of involvement in a business deal in Russia for which a senate report says he was paid $3.5 million. Hunter Biden’s lawyer denies he received this payment.
The men also sparred over taxes, with Biden calling for Trump to release his tax returns and Trump again repeating that the $750 the New York Times reported he paid as federal income taxes in 2017 was some sort of filing fee.
In this segment President Trump claimed China is paying billions in tariffs to the United States, something Biden immediately challenged him on, stating that those billions are not coming from China, but from the American people.
On American families + the economy
Welker opened this section by asking about healthcare and the affordable care act, which is vulnerable to being overturned by the Supreme Court soon. President Trump stated that he will “always protect people with the pre-existing conditions” and is focused on coming up with something better than Obamacare. He suggested that Joe Biden’s plan to build on Obamacare is basically “socialized medicine” (fact-check: It isn’t).
Trump brought Bernie Sanders into the conversation multiple times, but as Biden pointed out, his plan for healthcare is not the same as Sanders’ vision. Biden stated that he’s actually trying to see Obamacare evolve into Bidencare, a plan that would include a public option but would not eliminate private insurance. “I support private insurance,” he stated. He challenged Trump’s claim that his administration can protect people with pre-existing conditions.
It’s gonna cost some over $750 million dollars over 10 years, Biden stated of his plan for affordable healthcare for Americans.
Next, Welker asked about the economic uncertainty women and people of color are facing during the pandemic and why the American people have not received adequate support from the federal government. President Trump blamed Nancy Pelosi, suggesting she doesn’t want to approve a stimulus bill and Joe Biden stated that the Republican-led Senate isn’t passing legislation meant to support American families, schools, businesses and communities.
President Trump pivoted to discussing minimum wage, suggesting that $7 or $8 an hour is a decent wage in parts of the country. Joe Biden stated his support for a $15 an hour minimum wage.
Next Welker asked about the 545 immigrant children separated from their parents who were deported under the Trump administration. The president suggested that coyotes or human traffickers brought some of these children to the United States, a claim Joe Biden disputed, calling the practice of separating children from their parents “criminal.”
When President Trump blamed immigration problems on the Obama administration (including detention centers, “he did nothing but build cages to keep children in,” Trump said of Biden), the former Vice President said it took his former boss too long to get immigration right, and that he’s not going to be Vice President anymore, but hopes to be President.
“We made a mistake. I was Vice President of the United States, not the President of the United States,” he said, pledging to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants within his first 100 days as president and vowed to protect young people who were brought to the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
On race in America
When Welker turned the conversation to race in America, Biden stated that it’s a fact that there is institutionalized racism in our country and agreed that white parents don’t have to have “the talk” with their children the way Black parents do, that white parents don’t have to warn their children about interactions with police the way Black parents do.
President Trump then suggested that Joe Biden once called Black people “super-predators” (a claim that is mostly false, according to NBC News. The term was actually coined by Hilary Clinton in reference to a crime bill Biden worked on in the 1990s).
When President Trump got off-topic, referring again to unproven claims linking Biden to foreign actors, Welker brought the conversation back to race, asking President Trump about statements he’s made about the Black Lives Matter movement. He stated: “I am the least racist person in the world,” and compared himself (favorably) to Abraham Lincoln, stating that no president since Lincoln has done as much as he has for Black people.
Joe Biden challenged him, referring to things Trump has said in the past, including calling Mexican people racists and his ban on Muslim travelers and his comments to the Proud Boys in a previous debate.
Welker asked Biden about crime bills he supported in previous decades that resulted in the incarceration of many young Black men. Biden acknowledged the problem and the mistakes that were made and stated he doesn’t want to see people going to jail for pure drug offenses, suggesting people with drug problems should receive treatment instead of going to prison.
On climate change
When asked about the climate crisis, President Trump referred to an executive order he signed earlier this month to move forward with the One Trillion Trees project, an initiative that aims to protect and restore one trillion trees by 2030.
On fracking, Joe Biden stated his position has not been that he’s against fracking (a statement fact-checkers debated, and Biden walked back by stating that he’d been referencing facking on federal land). He stated that the oil industry needs to be replaced by renewable energy over time and that he would stop giving subsidies to oil companies.
President Trump urged Texas, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma to remember that and suggested that wind energy is expensive and kills birds (fact-check: wind energy does not kill birds.)
Biden talked about the people who live close to industrial pollutants “the fact is those front-line communities, it doesn’t matter what you pay them, what matters is you keep them safe.”
The mute feature seemed to work, as this final debate was much more orderly than the first presidential debate, which was heavy on insults and saw the candidates talking over each other so much some found the first debate unwatchable.
Tonight, parents were able to watch and hear what the candidates were saying. The president said he’s worried the stock market will crash under Biden and spoke about how citizens’ “401(k)s will go to hell” under Biden.
Biden’s anecdotes were related to people more than economics. This was not lost on some viewers who are more worried about their kids and their families than their bank accounts and retirement funds.
The election is November 3rd. If you haven’t already voted, mama, don’t forget that you have power. Use it.
[Editor’s note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]
More than anyone on this earth, mothers are invested in the future; we give birth to and raise the future. So, why then, do we constantly hear commentary along the lines of, “Keep politics out of mom spaces. Talk about motherhood instead.”
Because, in case you haven’t noticed, motherhood is political. It is perhaps the most political occupation one can have.
We have no choice but to care; leaving politics out of it is impossible and unacceptable.
Not needing to care about politics as a mother is a privilege. It means that your health, safety, financial stability and very existence do not depend on decisions made by others; that your life won’t change drastically depending on who is in charge. There are so many people—millions of American mothers—for whom politics is a matter of life and death.
Every single aspect of motherhood is affected by politics.
Motherhood is healthcare. Mothers are dying in childbirth. Mothers are struggling from the lack of access to mental health services. Mothers are fighting to get their children’s basic health needs met. Politicians make the decisions that impact healthcare; so while there are women who die giving birth to the next generation of citizens, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is the impact of racism. Systemic racism is so embedded into our daily lives our country has accepted it as normal—and the results are disastrous. Politicians sit at the helm of that system; so while there are mothers who fear for the lives of their children because of the color of their skin, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is the economy. There are mothers who work multiple jobs, mothers who live paycheck to paycheck, praying that they will be able to afford a roof and food. Politicians vote on changes to workplace laws; so while there are mothers for whom one missed paycheck means homelessness for their children, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is the lack of paid parental leave. The United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid parental leave program—politicians decided that; so while there are women who must return to work within two weeks of giving birth, while they are still bleeding from their births, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is a pandemic. Mothers have lost jobs during the pandemic disproportionately more than fathers. The mothers that do have jobs are holding up the front lines as essential workers—teaching, nursing, food service and caregiving are all fields that employ more women than men. In the meantime, mothers are expected to figure out the pandemic childcare crisis completely on their own—politicians have not helped; so while there are mothers who are risking their lives during a pandemic for a society that won’t lift a finger to help them, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is our bodies. Our bodies have been legislated for hundreds of years; they are the center of the debate in the Supreme Court. Your feelings on abortion, whatever they may be, are political because politicians are making the decisions; so while they sit behind closed doors and decide what women can do with their bodies, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is immigration. There are 40 million immigrants in the United States—many of them are mothers—many of them are our mothers. Politicians gather to decide the fate of people who were born on the other side of a geographic line (that was decided by other politicians); so while people debate what constitutes human rights for mothers and their children, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is LGBTQ+ rights. Whether you have an LGBTQ+ child, family member or friend (you probably do) or are a member of the Queer community yourself, the lack of LGBTQ+ rights and equity impacts you in some way. Just five years ago, it became legal for LGBTQ+ families to adopt in every state in the U.S. (there are still many inequities in rights, though). Guess who made that decision? The Supreme Court, comprised of judges nominated by politicians; so while there are people who want to raise a child but have to fight for basic rights based on who they love, motherhood will remain political.
Consider this list and all the ways these very political concepts impact motherhood every day.
I can’t tell you what to care about, but I will beg you to care.
Our children’s futures depend on you caring. To create any kind of change, we have to put the people in leadership who reflect our values and will ensure our children’s future—whatever that means for you.
Women have been told to stay quiet since the dawn of time. Our opinions have been dismissed, our thoughts discarded, our voices silenced by any means necessary. But we are the generation that has said enough. That has uncomfortable conversations and votes in record numbers and cares deeply about our future. We are fumbling in the dark and making mistakes and trying again.
We are brave, we are loud—we are mothers. There is nothing more powerful than us.