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This fall, Keith F. Thompson met Hillary Clinton and told her his story. He’s 52, a part-time librarian from Brookline, N.H. — and he works part-time so that he can care for his mother, who has Alzheimer’s. Because Medicaid and Medicare don’t provide day-to-day support outside a nursing home, he told Clinton, he takes his mother to work with him. Both Thompson and the candidate parted in tears that day.
In the two months since their encounter, Clinton has mentioned Thompson in nearly every major speech — and she speaks frequently about the “caregiver crisis” facing those who look after loved ones full-time without enough financial support.
And now, Clinton is proposing a new tax credit to ease that burden on millions like Thompson, offsetting up to $6,000 in expenses for caregiving. The tax break targets families “paying for, coordinating, or providing care for aging or disabled family members,” according to a Clinton campaign aide.
The plan would also allow people like Thompson to earn credit toward their Social Security for family caregiving. In the current system, people who take time out from work to care for a loved one do not earn credit toward their retirement.
“No one should face meager Social Security checks because they took on the vital role of caregiver for part of their career,” said a summary of the plan, provided to reporters on Sunday. “Clinton believes that it is time to reform our tax policies, Social Security system, and work-family policies, to support paid and unpaid caregivers and to recognize their fundamental contributions to families and to America.”
Clinton will outline the details of the proposal on Sunday at a town hall in Iowa.
The caregivers credit comes as part of a series of middle-class tax benefits Clinton is beginning to unveil as part of her campaign. Last week, she put forward a tax credit for families and individuals facing major health care costs.
Clinton has also promised not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 — a pledge her opponents in the Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former governor Martin O’Malley, have declined to make. Both candidates support a paid leave bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, that would raise the payroll tax for all families. Clinton has said she will introduce another way to pay for a paid leave program that does not raise taxes on middle-class families.
Clinton’s campaign, which has yet to outline a full tax plan, did not say how she intends to pay for the caregiving proposal.
As part of her caregiving plan, Clinton is seeking a “Care Workers Initiative,” to create what her campaign calls a “government-wide” effort to support and ensure fair wages for full-time professional caregivers. This summer, Clinton hosted a roundtable with home health-care workers represented by the Service Employees International Union, promising to focus on the often overlooked vocation.
Clinton will also aim to invest more in the Lifespan Respite Care program, which provides grants to family caregivers of any age. In 2015, the program received $2 million in federal dollars. President Obama has asked to up the allocation to $5 million. As president, a campaign aide said, Clinton “would go even further,” committing a total of $100 million from the federal government over 10 years.
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