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43% of South Dakotans Lack Childcare Options; Thune Mumbles at Biden’s Solutions

What is a childcare desert? 43% of South Dakota.

According to the state infrastructure fact sheets published by the White House last month, 43% of South Dakotans live in a “childcare desert,” which the Center for American Progress defined in 2016 as “a ZIP code with at least 30 children under the age of 5 and either no child care centers or so few centers that there are more than three times as many children under age 5 as there are spaces in centers.”

Center for American Progress, map of childcare deserts, annotated with South Dakota outline by CAH; map attached to CAP article posted 2018.12.06; retrieved 2021.05.04.
Blue means “adequate”, orange means “scarce”: Center for American Progress, map of childcare deserts, annotated with South Dakota outline by CAH; map attached to CAP article posted 2018.12.06; retrieved 2021.05.04.

President Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $25 billion to “modernize and expand early learning facilities” in the U.S., but Senator John Thune says we shouldn’t talk about that at the same time as we talk about what he considers “infrastructure”:

Senator John Thune said that while focusing on early childhood learning is important, it should be debated separately from infrastructure.

“If you want to talk about childcare, daycare, community colleges, those are fine conversations to have, I’m not saying those aren’t worthy subjects to discuss,” Thune said. “All I’m saying is, they shouldn’t be lumped together with infrastructure” [Nick Nelson, “Biden Infrastructure Package to Address ‘Childcare Desert’ in South Dakota,” KOTA-TV, 2021.05.02].

Why not lump it together, Senator Thune? Why debate it separately? I ask again, Senator Thune, why play word games about the definition of “infrastructure” when we could have a broader debate about solving problems?

When I go to the grocery store to get food for supper and then notice I can get a deal on toilet bowl cleaner, my wife doesn’t wag her finger and say, “You were supposed to just get pasta and tomatoes. You should have made a separate trip to get toilet bowl cleaner, because toilet bowl cleaner isn’t groceries.” Tomatoes and Ty-D-Bol are all part of home economics…and roads and childcare are all part of national economics. If we can raise and invest the cash right now to do important things to help working parents get to work—e.g., building better preschools to care for their kids while they work and better roads on which to get to those preschools and their jobs—then why on earth should we not not just debate them but do them?

South Dakota needs better roads. South Dakota needs more childcare. Let’s build ’em both.

26 Comments

  1. mike from iowa 2021-05-04

    Marlboro Barbie and magats are always up for taxcuts for their wealthy owners. Most aren’t even constituents.

  2. Loren 2021-05-04

    “I’m not saying those aren’t worthy subjects to discuss?”
    Ryyyyght! What the senator really meant to say was that the Democrats should break their proposal into individual pieces that Johnnie and Mitch would then “discuss” and deny as some socialist plot against America. There isn’t one SD representative that can speak to a national policy without a GQP talking points card. Do what you are told and we will let you come to the next photo op, Johnnie! GeezLouise!

  3. CK 2021-05-04

    This is a problem that leads to more problems. For example: Older kids stay home from school to watch their younger siblings, so parents can go to work…Which leads to chronic student absenteeism (ten or more missed school days). It is a slippery slope, that many people in this state experience. These types of situations lead to delayed graduation rates and dropouts.

    I am blessed to have a reliable daycare. But in the community where I teach, this is not the norm. Many of my students that aren’t coming to school are doing just this. They have no choice. Mom & Dad have to put food on the table. What’s a missed day of school versus keeping the lights on?

    My students marvel at the fact that the woman who watched my 14-yr-old and my 7 yr-old as babies is now watching my 2-yr-old. Heaven forbid they should know that things can be different, that there can be that kind of stability in their lives too.

  4. bearcreekbat 2021-05-04

    The real point of this inane blather is that current Republican political tactics, per leader Mitch McConell’s public revelations – “no Republican votes!”, require obsequious Republican Senators to oppose every legislative proposal from the Biden administration, regardless of merit. Hence the necessity to invent some absurd rational for justifying Republican opposition to something positive, like simple child care assistance, that could help so many children and families. Thune’s child care comments constitutes a classic example of such modern Republican tactics seeking power at the cost of disregarding the needs of the actual people they represent.

  5. o 2021-05-04

    They should be rejected as separate issues — not lumped under one discussion to be rejected.

    The McConnell has again announced that the GOP will stand against all of the Biden agenda and the GOP will not give a single vote of support. That means that ALL GOP senators (and congressmen and women) are now irrelevant to the discussion. If they are ONLY barriers to solutions, then let the Democrats go it alone through budget reconciliation and/or (filibuster reformed) majority floor votes. The GOP had four years to move solutions forward and chose to not do that then either.

    The party of partisan “no” cannot hold a nation in need hostage as it did during the Obama administration. Biden learned that lesson then.

  6. Mark Anderson 2021-05-04

    Of course the Democrats should vote for what they believe in and let the Republicans complain about the snow white ride at disney. Two visions for the future of America.

  7. Donald Pay 2021-05-04

    In a world where Congress actually did their work Thune’s request for separate consideration might be reasonable. I don’t like Christmas tree bills, either, and having small bills would allow greater scrutiny. But to split such bills up you have to have a Congress that is more concerned about governance than fundraising and schmoozing with high dollar donors. Automatically saying “NO,” is a tip off that Republicans aren’t serious.

    I’m not so much concerned about how people want to define “infrastructure.” When the French made up the concept it meant dealt mostly with rail systems, and just the material placed under the rails, not the steal rails. I think it quickly migrated to building roads. About the same time people were building out sewer systems, water systems, etc., but for some reason it took awhile for these to be considered infrastructure. The point is call it whatever you want, but deal with the reality that some things are necessary in the modern world. Maybe Biden is engaged in a bit of marketing, but at least in a broad, modern notion it fits. Childcare is necessary in the modern world of two earner families. You don’t like childcare? Fine. Vote against it, and explain to families why their older kids have to miss school to watch the younger ones. Then deal with all the societal problems that come with that decision.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2021-05-04

    well…in general, for reasons too complicated and sexist to go into, Child Care is a “Woman’s Issue” with the Republicans, not a family issue or an economic issue, which it really is. We need free Child care on the model of the Scandinavian countries. We are a long, long way from getting it.

  9. Porter Lansing 2021-05-04

    Two Points:
    1. a. infrastructure defined: the basic equipment and structures that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly
    b. child care is structured and is thus a valid subset of infrastructure

    2. The congressional parliamentarian ruled that Democrats have one more reconciliation this session.
    a. We’ll divide the Biden program into two parts.
    b. Enough Repubs will probably vote for new roads and bridges.
    c. We’ll reconcile the remaining items and own the consequences.
    d. If Repubs won’t vote for new roads and bridges, we’ll reconcile the whole program and Repubs can suck
    eggs.

  10. Edwin Arndt 2021-05-04

    I really don’t want to get into the argument about what constitutes
    infrastructure, but I would like to have seen locks and dams mentioned.

  11. Porter Lansing 2021-05-04

    Hi, Edwin.
    -It’s only a $2 trillion project, Edwin.
    -Biden’s plan calls for spending $17 billion on ports and waterways, which would include locks and dams.
    -I agree that $12 trillion would do a lot better job of updating a country that’s suffered under politicians selfishness for 75 years.

  12. grudznick 2021-05-04

    Yes, for $12 Trillion dollars, we can not only afford locks which are desperately needed for canoers along the creeks of Spring and Rapid; but we can buy a hot breakfast of gravy taters and sausage for your hypothetical great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren, Mr. Lansing, who of course will be paying for our bankruptcy of today.

    Do you know what this will do? It will spur the prepper culture into a new frenzy of activity. It is the preppers, especially the ones who garden and maintain goats, who will survive the Biden Binge. Get your bunkers now.

  13. Porter Lansing 2021-05-04

    grudzie, grudzie, grudzie You blithering idiot!

    Since Reagan you connies have preached that “small government’ means nobody tells you what to do.

    What small government really means is that there’s no money appropriated to maintain what America owns.

    Now, everything is old and falling apart and it’s you conservative “connies” effin’ fault. You effin’ morons!

  14. grudznick 2021-05-04

    I name that small goat, Mr. Lansing, “Wynkoop”, after the worst bar in Denver. I shall eat a small portion of fancily cooked young Wynkoop for breakfast on the morrow, and leave the other bits for the servers.

  15. Richard Schriever 2021-05-04

    The need for child care is due to the need for both parents to go to work. Thanks to the REAL worst president of all time – Ronnie Reagan. Raise wages to a living wage and the whole childcare “problem” goes away.

  16. Porter Lansing 2021-05-04

    Wrong, grud.
    The worst bar in Denver is Charlie Browns, where you flatheaded connies drink bourbon and smoke stogies.

  17. grudznick 2021-05-04

    Well, Porter, I guess we can agree that “worst bar” is a term subject to one’s own tastes in bourbon, stogies, conversation and waitresses. I sure hate piano bars.

  18. Porter Lansing 2021-05-04

    Well, Bob. I hate sh*t-kicker bars.

  19. Edwin Arndt 2021-05-04

    Wow! You guys get around!

  20. grudznick 2021-05-04

    Indeed, Ed, you bought grudznick’s good friend Bob a drink back at the old Falcon bar, in the days when lobbists would drink more publicly.

  21. Edwin Arndt 2021-05-04

    Grudz, you indeed have a gift for fiction.

  22. Edwin Arndt 2021-05-04

    Grudz, I have a friend named Bob; strange that he
    never mentions you.

  23. grudznick 2021-05-04

    Friends of lawyers rarely mention other friends.

  24. grudznick 2021-05-04

    It doesn’t mean I don’t love you, Ed.

  25. Lynne 2021-05-08

    The big problem is that the Biden crowd is just putting a bandaid on the issue. The administration has stressed “childcare”, by which they mean facilities to warehouse children, is necessary so that women can work. Note their blatant sexism. And of course, the reason many people are desperate to warehouse their children while they provide cheap labor for squillionaires is because the US does not have universal health care. Universal health care is what is needed, not the insurance company subsidies that the Democrats adopted during the Obama years. Thune is just providing cover for Biden’s carrying water for the 1%

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