Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Tuesday the U.S. "childcare system is on the brink of complete collapse" and that her $700 billion universal childcare bill could be funded by a wealth tax.
"If this pandemic has shown us nothing else, it has shown us the critical importance of parents having access to dependable childcare," Warren said during a news conference.
Warren said rebuilding the nation's infrastructure system, as President Biden has proposed with his American Jobs Plan, "must include childcare."
New York Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones joined Warren at the news conference to introduce the "Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act."
"Childcare is indeed infrastructure," he said.
Jones said in some states, such as New York, the annual cost of childcare is equivalent to in-state tuition at some colleges or universities.
Warren tweeted on Tuesday that "expanding quality child care would create jobs, increase productivity, and have lifelong benefits for children’s development and growth. President Biden should make these big, bold investments in #UniversalChildCare to help families succeed and our economy recover."
Warren, who competed with Biden for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said she's already in discussions with the White House about her bill ahead of the president's forthcoming American Families Plan rollout.
"We're already talking to the White House at multiple levels and we're here to push for a big enough investment to make certain that every child, every parent and every caregiver is covered; that's going to take about $700 billion," she said. "We have to make a big enough investment to get the job done."
The $700 billion cost is estimated over a 10 year period.
"We can do it with a wealth tax. We can do it with a real corporate profits tax. We can do it by stepping up enforcement on those who are not paying their taxes right now," she said.
In March, the White House had indicated that Biden was opposed to implementing a wealth tax.
Warren also said that nobody would have spend more than 7% of their income on childcare under the bill.
Warren and other Democrats in Congress are currently advocating for a phased $15 minimum wage increase. A recent study found that a $15 minimum wage hike would increase the cost of childcare by 21% on average nationally.