Friday, March 29, 2019

The Republicans Have A Family Leave Bill-- That Chips Away At Social Security Benefits


The U.S. is the only advanced country in the world without a paid family leave program in place-- and American women have been picking up on that. Paid family leave was a big issue in Hillary Clinton's campaign that she handled very well-- but which was almost entirely ignored by the media. And Ivanka Trump-Kushner has been talking it up as a theory that's supposed to put a happy face on her father's neo-fascist regime. Most of the Democratic 2020 hopefuls are all talking about it and in the last few weeks, several Republicans in Congress have introduced fake family leave bills that are all based around screwing with Social Security.

I think the worst of the bills is the one Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) introduced in the House Wednesday (with a companion bill sponsored by Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney in the Senate). The bill requires parents who want paid leave to take it out of Social Security retirement funds. It's a really pernicious, evil bill, pitting young families' immediate needs against future needs that the GOP has never believed in. Mike Lee and Joni Ernst proposed a similar bill (The Child Rearing and Development Leave Empowerment, or CRADLE Act)-- 12 weeks of paid leave in return for delaying Social Security benefits by around 6 months.

The bill allows parents to take 12 weeks leave-- just like the Democratic plans-- for about two-thirds of their salaries. But it would come out of future Social Security benefits. The parents would have to agree to either increasing their Social Security retirement age or retiring with reduced Social Security benefits for the first five years of retirement. The Democratic plans-- modeled on Bernie's 2016 platform-- are more generous, tend to also include leave for people taking care of sick family members and are paid for with a tiny increase in payroll taxes (0.2% split between employee and employer). The gold standard for Democratic proposals is Rosa De Lauro's FAMILY Act, which you can read here in it's entirety.

(Amy Klobuchar implemented her own family leave plan in her office-- and it was a stinker that embarrassed her. She has now scrapped it but it was based on 12 weeks time off with pay in return for staying at the office for three times that time off once they returned. She's run her office like a torture chamber for her employees and it has turned her campaign into a complete shambles.)

GOP reactionary Michael McCaul of Texas, was one of the Republicans who voted against equal pay for women this week. His progressive Democratic opponent, Mike Siegel, who has 2 small children of his own, gave me a statement on parental leave: "I support paid family leave without hesitation, and continue to be amazed by the so-called 'family values' party that treats mothers like cogs in a machine. Like the recent bill on equal pay for women-- which all but seven Republicans opposed-- I look forward to House legislation that will show where each representative stands on family leave. These are real kitchen table issues-- family leave and health care, equal pay and equal rights-- that will go a long way towards determining which party takes power in 2020."

In mid-March Barron's published a piece, Use Social Security to Pay for Parental Leave? That’s a ‘Terrible Idea,’ Experts Say, that explains why the GOP plans are so bad. Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, told Barron's that "this type of parental leave bill would undermine retirement security... Workers are simply not in a position to give up future benefits from Social Security."
Cindy Hounsell, president of the nonprofit Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, said the proposal did little to ameliorate the gender gap women face. “It is essentially an unpaid leave bill since you are using retirement money to pay for unpaid caregiving,” she said. Hounsell also favors giving women extra retirement credits for giving birth-- or to those who leave work to care for elderly parents or a partner.

Olivia Mitchell, a professor of insurance and risk management and business economics and public policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was more succinct: “It is a terrible idea,” she said in an email. “Social Security is already facing insolvency such that benefits will need to be cut 25% to 30% soon.”
The Motley Fool agrees that the Republican plans are a terrible idea... the idea of allowing parents to essentially take out a loan against their future Social Security benefits is nothing short of terrible.
One of the biggest problems with providing parental leave benefits tied to Social Security is that the program doesn't have the ability in its current state to "lend out" a substantial amount of benefits. The trustees' report has suggested that outlays will outweigh revenue collection very soon, with the program's $2.9 trillion in asset reserves projected to disappear by 2034. Lending out money for parental leave benefits would put the program in an even more precarious position.

Parental leave benefits tied to Social Security may threaten economic growth and productivity as well. Even though these benefits would be paid via Social Security, rather than by an employer (thus saving that employer money), an extended absence for a key worker might result in reduced output or productivity for a company.

Furthermore, an analysis from the Urban Institute of Rubio's bill estimates that Social Security wouldn't recoup around 25% of the loans from a parental leave program as people die before reaching their claiming age, receive disability insurance, or simply don't work enough to reach the 40 lifetime credits needed for a retired worker benefit.

Whether it's the Cradle Act, Rubio's bill, or any other number of ideas that have been floated on Capitol Hill, borrowing against future Social Security income to cover a few months of paid parental leave is a terrible idea.
Goal ThermometerI asked a couple of the women Blue America has endorsed this cycle about the way the Republicans are approaching this issue. Audrey Denney, running for a rural district seat in the northeast corner of California, told me she loves that John Oliver clip up top. "The fact that the United States doesn’t have a comprehensive paid maternity leave and paid family leave program baffles me," she said. "We are one of the only countries in the world that has not passed laws requiring organizations offer paid maternity leave to their employees.  I’ve watched my friends and sister struggle with how to afford to deliver their babies, miss work to care for their newborns, and provide childcare when they go back to work. We’re seeing increases in maternal mortality and shocking rates of postpartum depression (as high as 1 in 5 in some states!). We have to be better at creating conditions where new moms can care for their physical and mental well-being-- and that starts with letting them take paid maternity leave."

Marie Newman is running for a Chicagoland seat held by reactionary Blue Dog Dan Lipinski, one of the incumbents who Cheri Bustos is trying to protect from a primary opponent (Marie). Yesterday Marie told me that "The reason I am a huge proponent of paid leave for families is that it helps our economy and increases quality of life for all Americans. Without paid leave, families postpone having kids and reaching their goals. It is not only balance of life and work that is critical to ensuring our children’s future, it is ensuring parents are enabled to care for the next generation."

Our progressive candidate in Arizona, Eva Putzova, just moments ago, said "While on the Flagstaff City Council I championed--and we approved--paid parental leave for our employees. The City could afford to offer only one month of this paid benefit to new mothers and fathers, but it's one month more than what employees had before. However, if we as a country value families, it should not be up to individual employers decide whether to support new parents or not. We should have a national program for new mothers and fathers regardless of their employment status or form of employment. There are many ways to structure the paid parental leave benefit, but it should never be at the expense of future Social Security benefits. We could expand Social Security to cover the cost of parental leave, make it part of universal healthcare, or propose a combination of these two and other strategies. Clearly, there are many models around the world we can adapt. What GOP is proposing is the worst possible option--exchanging economic security in retirement for financial support in parenthood earlier in life. Not only we can but we must do better."

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At 11:09 AM, Blogger hester said...

So much meanness in one administration.

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

klobuchar is a democrap. the cruelty is bipartisan.

if you believe that anyone in the neoliberal democrap slate is actually serious about paid family leave without the family paying a bigger penalty, you are a perfect American voter -- dumber than shit.

corporations do NOT want to pay a penny toward any family leave... ever... no matter what.

corporations want slaves. period.

and guess who owns both parties, including yours?

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course we mere humans are seen as cogs in the machine - the profit machine. If employers could get away with it, we'd all be working like those poor slobs at Amazon. We'd have long shifts with no breaks of any kind, with the work being fast-paced and relatively physical. There would be no days off, no holidays, no vacations, and certainly no retirement. And forget about benefits!

In fact, if Republicans could get away with it, they would allow the work conditions implemented at places like Mauthausen.

Too many democraps go along with these kinds of policies because of donor orders. They got theirs, so to hell with us - literally.

At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yet we must hold our noses and keep electing them!

ya think maybe some day we should try something different?

At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, the genius's complaining here on DWT, but they have no ideas, no plans, no answers - just bitch and moan. Very helpful.

At 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the faux-genius complaining about the rest of us has nothing to offer. Completely unable to walk its talk.

Hillary's looking for you!

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

vote green. there's the idea. you can have the same thing forever that has gotten us here and has created the Nazi party monster... or you can try voting green.

you can be fucked forever... or maybe eventually not so much.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I sympathize with 7:26, we are already seeing the democraptic Party gearing up to go to war against progressives for 2020. The tactics honed in KS, GA, and NC by the GOP will be the templates the corporatists will use to ensure that no one NOT affiliated with either branch of the Wall St Profit Party will be allowed to attempt to take power.


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