It’s great that the push for paid family leave is now becoming a national issue. New York’s paid family leave program is the best in the country right now and should be a model. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is sponsoring a bill that provides a national paid family leave program that seems closer in financing to our New York program that became effective on January 1st of this year. Gillibrand’s bill would assess a small payroll tax to fund the program.
Some Republicans in Congress have developed legislation for a paid family leave program tapping the Social Security system. Senators Marco Rubio and Mike Lee are developing a proposal that would allow younger workers to tap their Social Security benefits early to take up to 12 weeks off. This is not an ideal proposal because it would require a worker’s early benefits deducted or delayed from their retirement benefits. The proposal has drawn criticism from defenders of Social Security and Democratic leaders.
Ivanka Trump is pushing for paid family leave and the Trump budget pushes it through the unemployment insurance program.
The Wall Street Journal is editorializing this week against the GOP plan saying it opens up a new “entitlement” that will only grow bigger if it is enacted. They would rather encourage the private sector to do this. The problem with that is the benefit is only available if you are lucky enough to have an employer which offers it.
There is momentum now for the program at the national level though it seems unlikely this Congress has pass anything new beyond a tax cut. However, the wisdom of providing a more family friendly workplace is clear and the United States needs to catch up with many other countries which already have leave programs.