Speaking on the third night of the Democratic National Convention from a Massachusetts kindergarten facility that’s been shuttered for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday lamented the failure of the wealthiest country on the planet to provide crucial services to families with children and demanded that child care be treated as “part of the basic infrastructure of this nation.”
“We build infrastructure like roads, bridges, and communications systems so that people can work. That infrastructure helps us all because it keeps our economy going. It’s time to recognize that child care is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation.”
—Sen. Elizabeth Warren
“Our economic system has been rigged to give bailouts to billionaires and kick dirt in the face of everyone else. But we can build a thriving economy by investing in families and fixing what’s broken,” said Warren, whose remarks preceded those of former President Barack Obama and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who formally accepted the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nomination.
Warren recounted that America’s woefully inadequate child care infrastructure “almost sank” her as she attempted to juggle parenting and her first full-time teaching job at the University of Houston.
“One night my Aunt Bee called to check in. I thought I was fine, but then I just broke down and started to cry. I had tried holding it all together, but without reliable child care, working was nearly impossible. And when I told Aunt Bee I was going to quit my job, I thought my heart would break,” Warren said. “Then she said the words that changed my life: ‘I can’t get there tomorrow, but I’ll come on Thursday.’ She arrived with seven suitcases and a Pekingese named Buddy and stayed for 16 years. I get to be here tonight because of my Aunt Bee.”
“I learned a fundamental truth: nobody makes it on their own,” the Massachusetts senator continued. “And yet, two generations of working parents later, if you have a baby and don’t have an Aunt Bee, you’re on your own. And here’s why that’s wrong: We build infrastructure like roads, bridges and communications systems so that people can work. That infrastructure helps us all because it keeps our economy going. It’s time to recognize that child care is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation—it’s infrastructure for families.”
Warren voiced confidence that, if elected president, Joe Biden will “make high-quality child care affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every child care worker.”
Last month, as Common Dreams reported, Biden unveiled a sweeping proposal to invest $775 billion over the next decade in caregiving for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The plan would make preschool free for all three- and four-year-olds in the U.S., a proposal that child care advocates applauded as a significant step toward creating “a universal system of early care and education in this country.”
“That’s just one plan,” Warren said Thursday night, “but it gives you an idea of how we get this country working for everyone.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who addressed the convention Tuesday night, praised Warren’s emphasis on the “crucial role of child care in economic life and the interwoven threads of our economy.”
The Massachusetts senator went on to pillory President Donald Trump for his deadly failure to confront the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, which has left tens of millions people in the U.S. jobless, hungry, and at risk of eviction.
“Donald Trump’s ignorance and incompetence have always been a danger to our country. Covid-19 was Trump’s biggest test. He failed miserably,” said Warren. “Today, America has the most Covid deaths in the world and an economic collapse—and both crises are falling hardest on Black and Brown families.”
“Millions out of work. Millions more trapped in cycles of poverty. Millions on the brink of losing their homes. Millions of restaurants and stores hanging by a thread,” Warren continued. “This crisis is bad—and didn’t have to be this way. This crisis is on Donald Trump and the Republicans who enable him. On November 3, we hold them all accountable.”