Biden to propose free preschool, as speech details emerge

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will call for free preschool for all three- and four-year-old children, a $200 billion investment to be rolled out as part of his sweeping American Families Plan being unveiled Wednesday in an address to Congress.

The administration said the historic investment would benefit 5 million children and save the average family $13,000. It calls for providing federal funds to help the states offer preschool, with teachers and other employees earning $15 an hour.

“These investments will give American children a head start and pave the way for the best-educated generation in U.S. history,” the administration said.

The new details are part of Biden's $1 trillion-plus package, an ambitious next phase of his massive infrastructure investment program, this one focused on so-called human infrastructure — child care, health care, education and other core aspects of the household architecture that undergird everyday life for countless Americans.

Together with Biden's American Jobs Plan, a $2.3 trillion infrastructure investment to be funded by a corporate tax hike, they add up a whopping $4 trillion effort to fulfill his campaign vow to Build Back Better. The American Families Plan would be paid for by hiking taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Americans, in keeping with the president’s vow not to raise taxes on those making less than $400,000 a year.

Ahead of Wednesday's speech, lawmakers have been pushing to make sure key priorities are included.

A group of leading centrist and progressive Democrats met late Tuesday with the White House to discuss its priority of making permanent the Child Tax Credit, which was increased to as much as $300 a month as part of a COVID-19 relief package. Right now, that benefit expires in 2022 and Biden has suggested extending it to 2025.

“We’re hopeful," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the chairman of the Banking Committee and advocate for a permanent child tax credit. "We want it to be permanent because it’s so important for so many people’s lives.”