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August 1 2018

Marco Rubio introduces paid family leave bill

Washington Examiner
featuring Carrie L. Lukas

Parents would be able to draw from their Social Security benefits early under a paid family leave bill to be introduced Wednesday by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo.

The U.S. stands apart from other industrialized nations that have mandatory or subsidized leave policies, and the issue has long divided both parties. In recent months, however, Republicans have shown more interest in the idea, though they still disagree with Democrats on the policy details.

Rubio has framed his plan, the Economic Security for New Parents Act, as an offering to support families and people in the workforce, one that would lead to healthier families.

"Falling rates of marriage and childbirth, coupled with the loss of stable, good-paying employment in a rapidly shifting global economy are making young families socially and financially insecure," Rubio wrote in a USA Today opinion excerpt provided in advance to the Washington Examiner. "Today, having a child can be an income shock matched only by college tuition or a down payment on a home."

Under the proposal, parents have the option to receive monthly payments to help cover costs such as rent, groceries, and baby supplies. The benefit would be transferable between parents and be available to both moms and dads.

In return for receiving Social Security payments early, parents would defer their retirement benefits for three to six months, or the amount of time necessary to offset the cost of their parental benefits. The idea was first presented by the conservative Independent Women's Forum.

"Our proposal would be a consistent application of Social Security’s original principle — to provide assistance to dependents in our care — to the challenges of today," Rubio wrote.

Passing a policy on paid family leave has been a focus for first daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump, who has stressed that she wants to arrive at an agreement that will have enough votes to pass. She has met with Rubio as well as with GOP Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mike Lee of Utah. She has not disclosed the names of Democrats who have discussed the policy with her.

Thirty-two Senate Democrats support a bill called the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, which is funded through payroll taxes paid for by employees. The provision is similar to laws on the books in California, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

The proposal, unlike the Republican idea, allows leave for circumstances other than a new child, including if a family member gets sick or if someone needs to take time off to undergo treatment for an illness. During that time, people would be guaranteed 66 percent of their regular earnings or up to $4,000 a month. The plan is similar to short-term disability coverage some employers offer.

Divisions became apparent July 11 during a hearing in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee examining the issue. Democrats said medical leave should be included, that they didn't think people should have to choose between family leave and retirement and that they believed people already did not receive enough in Social Security.

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IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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