Forget eating healthier and exercising more. Throw out that day planner – you’re never going to use it anyway. Let’s talk about some resolutions that will truly have a profound impact – the ones our elected officials are making.
In case they haven’t finished their list of goals yet, we have six suggestions for family-friendly resolutions we hope our policy makers are going to keep this year.
1 | Protect health care for all Americans
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, earns the first spot on our resolution list because it’s already in danger. House Speaker Paul Ryan and President-Elect Donald Trump have vowed to repeal the health care law this month, promising they will come up with a replacement plan sometime in the next two years, before the repeal would officially take place.
This approach is dangerous, however, as it could lead the insurance market to the brink of collapse and cost an estimated 30 million Americans their health insurance. When our lawmakers set out to reform health insurance law this year, it is absolutely necessary they have a plan in place before they vote to repeal, and guarantee all Americans – mothers, fathers, single adults, and kids – keep their access to health insurance.
2 | Ensure all parents have access to paid leave
When the ball dropped, millions of people resolved to “spend more time with family.” But for many new mothers and fathers, that might not be a promise they’re able to keep if they don’t have access to paid parental leave.
During President-Elect Trump’s campaign, he recognized the need for new mothers to spend time recovering from birth, promising six weeks of paid leave. While this is a step in the right direction, his plan leaves out many parents – including new fathers wishing to bond with and care for their child – as well as parents who grow their family through adoption.
Paid leave is essential for family health and well-being. Our lawmakers should guarantee it’s available to all parents.
3 | Protect our common home
Recycle more. That was my New Year’s resolution last year. I finally bought some bins and stopped cringing every time I threw away an empty milk jug. This small step probably hasn’t had much of an impact on protecting the earth from climate change, pollution, and landfill waste. But luckily, our lawmakers wield much more power than I do and have an opportunity to really make a difference.
The majority of Americans think that our government currently is doing too little to protect the environment. Keeping the Clean Power Plan in place and following through with the Paris Climate Accords are great places for our lawmakers to start.
This year, we hope that our elected officials remember that when they cast their votes, they’re making life-changing decisions about our children’s future home.
4 | Invest in early education
Every new parent makes the same promise to themselves – to give their child the best possible start in life that they can. Forty-two states have taken the same pledge, by providing state-funded preschool to help all kids reach their full potential.
State legislatures are often tempted to cut funding for preschool and shuffle the money to something flashier like tax cuts or new highway projects, but they must remember that investing in early education is good for the economy: for every dollar states spend on preschool, they net a $7 return as the child grows.
Providing our children with the best start possible should be an easy choice for lawmakers this year.
5 | Make child care affordable
“Save more money for college” tops the list for many moms and dads this January, but for parents of young children, they might already be writing checks to a daycare that’s more expensive than their local college. In 33 states, average childcare costs exceed in-state tuition, and parents are feeling the strain.
President-Elect Trump has put forth a plan to address the rising cost of childcare, but critics note the plan focuses heavily on deductions, which mostly benefit wealthy families. Lawmakers should recognize the importance of having safe, high-quality, affordable childcare, and make sure it’s available to all families.
6 | Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit
Lawmakers of both parties have long sought to improve the lives of working Americans, typically through different means. But in the 1980s, under President Ronald Reagan, they came up with a solution that has lifted millions of families out of poverty – the Earned Income Tax Credit.
The Federal EITC gives working families a tax credit equal to a certain percentage of their income, up to a maximum of $3,359 for families with one kid, and $6,242 for families with three or more kids. The credit promotes work, reduces poverty, and promotes children’s well-being. Over half of all U.S. states also have a state EITC, and lawmakers in states that don’t should make it their goal to expand this credit and help lift more families out of poverty.
Happy and healthy families – that’s what we all want for 2017. With affordable health care, access to paid leave, a healthy environment, quality early care and education, and a tax code that helps working families, our lawmakers can help make it happen. We hope that our elected officials will make family-friendly legislation a top priority this year.
And if they don’t? I’m going to pick up the phone, write a letter, speak up at town hall meetings and continually remind them about the needs of the families whom they represent.
That’s my New Year’s resolution.