EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

Senator Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) is reportedly asking Democrats to sacrifice all but one of the essential child-care policies from President Biden’s Build Back Better plan to cut down the bill’s $3.5 trillion price tag.

It’s a shameful proposition. As Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, has said, “Investing in children is not a national luxury or a national choice. It’s a national necessity.” Forcing a choice among the child tax credit, paid family and medical leave, child-care subsidies or universal pre-K is akin to telling a parent with a sick child that they must select one option among food, water, medicine or rest to help their child get better.

Make no mistake: American kids are not all right. We have underinvested in our children for decades, while other nations reinvest in the next generation. Today, the average country in the Western industrialized world spends $14,436 annually per child on toddler care. The United States spends a measly $500.

Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.