Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Wednesday proposed a tax break for parents who take time off from work to care for a newborn, which he estimates would benefit about 3.5 million families each year.
The North Carolina senator, in a speech at George Washington University, called the plan a $2,500 tax credit that would compensate parents for unpaid family leave.
Aides to Edwards questioned after the speech acknowledged that the $2,500 would include the $1,000 child credit that President Bush has been pushing Congress to approve. Edwards didn't mention that in his speech and it wasn't explained in materials handed out to reporters.
Edwards also called for more federal funding of after-school programs like the Wade Edwards Learning Lab, which he and his wife built in memory of their son, who died in a 1996 car accident.
Funding for the additional tax credit and the after-school programs would make up the bulk of the $11-billion family agenda outlined in Edwards' speech. One of nine Democrats seeking the presidential nomination, Edwards said money for his programs would come from a cut in federal spending and by stopping parts of Bush's tax-cut proposals.
"If we took the money that the president wants to give to people making more than a million dollars a year, we could pay for all of these efforts that I've talked about today to strengthen American families," he said. "In fact, we could pay for them twice over."
Edwards also called for expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act to include workers at small businesses and unpaid leave for parent-teacher conferences.