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Sunday Business Page: Five Freedoms For American Children

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KDKA's Jon Delano spoke with Senator Bob Casey about a bill he plans to introduce that he says will invest in children's futures.

Video Transcript

- This is "The Sunday Business Page" with Jon Delano.

JON DELANO: Good morning. I'm Jon Delano. Welcome to another Home Edition of "The Sunday Business Page." And our very special guest today is Senator Bob Casey, the senior senator from Pennsylvania. Senator, thank you, sir, very much for spending Sunday morning with us. I appreciate it.

BOB CASEY: Hey, Jon, good to be with you. Thank you.

JON DELANO: Let me ask you about a program that you are reintroducing, I believe this coming week, called the "Five Freedoms for American Children." Tell us a little bit about this. What are the "Five Freedoms for American Children?"

BOB CASEY: Well, Jon, this idea is grounded in the notion that I've had for a good while now. And I finally put it on paper-- that we need really a strategy-- a national strategy to invest in our children so that we can not only help them lead successful lives-- lives that are healthy and successful, but that we're preparing our workforce for the future.

And I borrowed heavily and gave attribution to one of our former presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He talked about the four freedoms really applying to the whole human race. I added a fifth, and made it for the domestic context of children, but obviously the fundamental freedoms like the freedom to be healthy. We've got to make sure that every child in America has health insurance-- not some, every single one. So we've got to get the four million uninsured down to zero. That's one freedom.

The freedom to be economically secure-- to make sure we're putting in place strategies that will allow a child to grow and develop so they will have a sound economic future. Certainly, the freedom to learn, the third one that we itemize, is a freedom that will be the result of our investments in early care and learning, for example.

Fourth would be the freedom from something-- the freedom from hunger. We have so many good programs that help provide school meals and other nutrition for young children. But we're not investing enough there as well. And then, number five is another kind of freedom from-- it's the freedom to be safe from harm by investing more dollars, especially at both state and local level in programs that protect our children from abuse and from those that would do them harm.

JON DELANO: You know, Senator, I doubt that there's any Pennsylvanian who would disagree with any of these five freedoms for our kids. But you're proposing, I take it, spending federal monies to--

BOB CASEY: Right.

JON DELANO: --really support these programs. Do you have a dollar price tag for these-- protecting these five freedoms for children?

BOB CASEY: Yeah, Jon. We have a rough estimate-- this because it is a proposal and not in bill form, and until we put it in bill form-- legislative form, to get a score-- for example, a Congressional Budget Office score. We won't know the exact dollars. But what we did at the end of the proposal was to itemize areas of tax change in particular where we could derive revenue.

For example, just-- and I know this is in the debate on infrastructure, but just an additional corporate tax rate could yield from 21% to 28%-- could yield $700 billion. If you said to very wealthy Americans who are at the top marginal rate, if you return that to the pre-2018 levels of 39.6%, that gets you another $90 billion. So there are a number of provisions like that that we outline to set forth ways to pay for this. It's very consistent with what President Biden proposed in his American Families Plan where he has paid for us to pay for the investments.

But the question we've got to ask, Jon, is can we afford not to invest in our children. I think one of the best formulations of it was that group called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. You could say Outcompete China: Invest in Kids. Grow GDP: Invest in Kids. Have a Skilled Workforce: Invest in Kids. I think you get the picture. We've got to invest.

JON DELANO: Well, Senator, we've run out of time. You know, we could talk, I think, forever about the important goals that you've set out here. Thank you so very much for spending time with us this morning. I really appreciate the chance to learn more about the "Five Freedoms for America's Children." Thank you, sir.

BOB CASEY: Thank you, Jon.

JON DELANO: And thank you for watching this edition of "The Sunday Business Page." If you have a suggestion for a guest, please do get in touch with me at jdelano@kdka.com. Have a great Sunday, everybody.