Chairman Yarmuth’s Opening Statement at Hearing on Powerful Impact of Investments in Early Childhood
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Chair of the House Budget Committee, gave the following opening statement at the committee’s hearing on the positive and powerful impacts of federal investments in early childhood for children, families, and our nation’s economy. Chairman Yarmuth’s remarks as prepared and video are below:
Good morning. I want to welcome our witnesses and thank them for appearing before our committee today. One of our witnesses is a notable veteran of this chamber — Speaker Gingrich, we are glad to have you back with us.
This hearing is about the importance of investing in our nation’s children. It should be a concern to everyone on this Committee that while the U.S. is the wealthiest nation in the world, we are among the stingiest nations when it comes to funding for our children.
And it shows: despite having the highest-rated education system in the world, U.S students consistently score lower in math and science than students from many other countries. It’s no coincidence that, just as U.S. education rankings have decreased by international standards over the past three decades, so have our federal investments in children. While the American Rescue Plan and recent appropriations bills have helped to reverse this troubling trend, there is much, much more work to be done.
Supporting our youngest Americans is one of the most concrete ways we can set our nation up for success. We call these programs investments because they pay off — literally — for children, for their families, for our society, and for our economy.
For example, participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — more commonly known as WIC — leads to fewer premature births, fewer infant deaths, and healthier babies. WIC saves lives, but it also pays other dividends. For every dollar spent, WIC also results in approximately $2.48 in reduced medical costs and productivity gains.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or SNAP — not only provides healthy food to 44 million children, it also gives an important boost to local communities during downturns. Each SNAP dollar generates more than $1.70 of economic activity, supporting jobs and local businesses.
Tax policies have also proven successful in reducing poverty while generating enormous returns for local economies. The expanded Child Tax Credit — which Democrats enacted last year as part of the American Rescue Plan and did so without a single Republican vote — lifted 3.7 million children out of poverty in 2021 alone.
Another investment that generates enormous returns — for kids and for our economy — is childcare. Study after study has found that enrollment in high-quality programs improves kids’ school readiness, college attendance, and health outcomes, and reduces their likelihood of future criminal activity. Access to childcare clearly can have long-lasting positive impacts, but it remains far too expensive for far too many American families. In fact, the cost of childcare has doubled in the past thirty years while real wages have remained nearly flat.
This puts many parents in the position of having to stay at home to care for their children when they would prefer to be working and building a stronger economic future for their families. As a result, the lack of affordable childcare leads to economic losses between $500 million and $3.5 billion in each state, every year.
This is an area where we could make an enormous impact for American families. We know the problem. We know the solution. What we are lacking is the bipartisan support needed to get it done.
This would be a typical problem in a closely divided Congress. But this is no longer a typical time in the political history of the United States. Everything changed on June 24 when the Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson. Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land.
This is what Republicans long-sought and fought tooth and nail for — but now what?
Republicans celebrated the Dobbs decision but want to cut programs that help women afford the care needed to have a safe pregnancy, birth, and post-partum recovery
If given the chance, Republicans would defund Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, and other programs that help mothers and children stay healthy and keep them from going hungry.
They have no plan for our childcare crisis that will now undoubtedly get worse.
Republicans want to cut education funding when schools will need more.
If every life was truly sacred in this country, we wouldn’t be having a hearing about programs to keep mothers and their children healthy, fed, and cared for — we’d be fully funding them.
The thing is, we know these policies work. We know how critical these investments are for the health of our children, the health of our society, and the health of our economy. And now we know we will need them even more.
Investing in our children is the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do. And it’s the most important investment we can make in the future of our country.
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