Better education, better child care, and better health care: the Biden administration said those are key ways that Oklahomans would benefit from passage of the president‘s American Families Plan.
In trying to promote the $1.8 trillion proposal, the White House sent out fact sheets Thursday, detailing potential benefits for each state, the District of Columbia, and the territories.
The plan is, nevertheless, very much a work in progress, as President Joe Biden looks to gain bipartisan support for it and its partner, the $2.7 trillion American Jobs Plan.
Together, the proposals comprise the administration's "once-in-a-generation" investment in families and infrastructure, to "Build Back Better" in the wake of the devastating coronavirus pandemic.
For Republicans, however, the plans, at first blush, appear to be trouble: government overreach and irresponsible spending on liberal wish list items.
"Some of the proposals that are out there, [I'm] glad to be able to take a look at them," Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma said in regards to the American Families Plan.
But Lankford, like other members of the Oklahoma delegation, said he worries Biden's proposals rely too heavily on government to solve societal issues.
"When you federalize those things, it often gets in the way of the state innovation that’s already occurring," Lankford said.
Lankford's case in point: the president's plan calls for two years of tuition-free community college when schools like Tulsa Community College are already offering that to thousands of Tulsa County students.
"So then pull that up and federalize that," said Lankford, "I don’t know what that means for groups like TCC and how that would change and what they would have to do different."
The American Families Plan also calls for free pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds. It would attempt to make quality childcare more accessible for lower income Oklahomans and reduce the state's childcare shortage by requiring day care workers be paid at least $15 an hour and this making the jobs more attractive.
Oklahoma's teacher shortage would improve, according to plan advocates, as it would put billions of dollars into recruiting and training teachers. More than 100,000 Oklahoma students would gain access to free school meals under the plan, and the average Oklahoma family would pay $50 less per month on health care through lowered drug costs and health insurance premiums.
The plan would be paid for by increasing taxes on families making over $400,000, increasing the capital gains tax rate, and closing tax loopholes.
"My initial response on that is it’s a tremendous amount of tax increase, and that will impact a lot of people," Lankford said.
Recent polling shows that almost 60% of Americans overall support the American Families Plan proposal. Not surprisingly, support breaks along party lines, with 85% of Democrats in favor and 75% of Republicans opposed.