KEY POINTS

  • The preschool initiative is part of Biden’s "American Families Plan"
  • Biden’s proposal calls for a federal partnership with state governments
  • Top Republican lawmakers have labeled Biden’s spending plans too ‘expensive’

President Joe Biden is all set to offer a new plan which is likely to benefit 5 million children and save an average family $13,000, the White House has said. He will call for universal free preschool for three- and four-year-old children when he delivers his first joint address to Congress on Wednesday.

The $200 billion package would be rolled out as part of the Biden administration’s sweeping American Families Plan. A White House official familiar with the plan said that with this initiative, the President is seeking an "investment in our kids." Biden will explain how his proposal will help families with basic expenses, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the official was cited as saying by CBS News. The current crisis has triggered a child care crisis across the country.

According to the administration, this “historic proposal” calls for providing federal funds to help states offer preschool, with teachers as well other employees participating in pre-k programs and Head Start earning at least $15 per hour, AP reported.

High-need areas would be given priority. The White House says the administration's aim is to let communities and families pick the settings that suit them the best. The proposal also seeks to ensure that all publicly funded preschools are high-quality, have supportive classroom environments inclusive for every student. There should be low student-to-teacher ratios and high-quality curriculum, among other things.

US President Joe Biden speaks about updated CDC guidance on masks for people who are fully vaccinated during an event in front of the White House April 27, 2021, in Washington, DC. US President Joe Biden speaks in front of the White House April 27, 2021, in Washington, DC. Photo: AFP / Brendan Smialowski

According to a White House official cited by Fox News, investments in a preschool program would be good for the economy as more parents would be able to participate in the workforce.

The new preschool initiative is part of Biden’s $1 trillion-plus package, the second phase of the current administration’s infrastructure and spending program. According to the AP, the initial phase — dubbed the "American Jobs Plan" — is expected to cost $2.2 trillion, with investments in physical infrastructure, job training and care for elderly as well as disabled Americans. The cost of the administration’s proposals is expected to cross a whopping $4 trillion.

Top Republican lawmakers have spoken against Biden’s spending plans, stressing that his proposals are too expensive. They have also said that the president’s plan to cover the cost would cut jobs and slow economic growth.

But White House officials say that these initiatives will be fully paid for. The administration’s proposals include a tax hike to force big corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to pay more. But Biden made it clear earlier that tax hikes will not affect Americans earning less than $400,000. He also talked about sweeping reforms to the corporate tax code, including increasing the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%.