GOP Senators Propose Americans Pay For Family Leave With Their Social Security Funds

Joni Ernst
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)  and Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) new paid family leave plan isn’t paid family leave at all, rather it asks families to take money from their social security and delay their retirement to cover the time off after the birth of a child.

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post Tuesday, the Republican senators argued that their plan wouldn’t “burden” taxpayers or employers.

“If government mandates businesses to cover those costs, employees and employers would suffer in the form of fewer jobs and lower wages,” they wrote. “If taxpayers foot the bill for another massive government program, our unsustainable national debt of $22 trillion will only continue to climb.”

The United States is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t federally mandate paid family leave.

“We think it’s time to catch up with other countries,” Ernst said on an episode of “CBS This Morning,” aired Wednesday.

Watch the video below:

As NPR reported in 2016, the United States is the only “high-income” country, labeled by the World Bank, that doesn’t require paid family leave. Out of 193 countries in the United Nations, the United States, New Guinea, Suriname, and some smaller South Pacific island nations don’t offer the option.

Paid family leave map
NPR

While Republicans are latching on to a paid family leave idea that won’t raise taxes, Democrats believe they’re missing the point.

“I’m glad my colleagues agree we need a national paid family leave policy,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) tweeted Tuesday, “but new parents shouldn’t have to rob from their retirement savings to take care of their children.”

President Donald Trump announced in his State of the Union this year that he would make paid family leave a priority. His budget plan unveiled this week also listed paid family leave, but with no specifics on how it would work.

Ivanka Trump, who has led the charge on paid family leave in the White House, praised Ernst and Lee’s plan.

Ernst and Lee said their plan will be optional, and parents can choose to take one, two, or three months off. However, this would delay their retirement by two, four, or six months.

Trump’s budget proposal touts six weeks of paid family leave. CNBC reported Tuesday that a separate plan outlined by Democrats offers 12 weeks and it can be used for taking care of a sick family member as well as a new child, something neither Republican plan has addressed.

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