The Wrong Way to Do Paid Family Leave

Marco Rubio’s bipartisan paid family leave bill is historic but forces parents to rob from their retirement to care for children.

Comments: 261

  1. I didn't realize that family leave only meant caring for children. Doesn't the FMLA include other family members, e.g. parents and spouses, in addition to children?

  2. @dlb From the article: "The Rubio-Wagner plan also neglects the most pressing reason people need paid leave: to recover from a serious illness or to take care of a sick or disabled family member. About three-quarters of those who take unpaid family leave do it for these reasons, not because they have a new infant."

  3. FMLA can include caring for oneself, bonding with a newborn (for both mothers and fathers), or taking care of a child, spouse or parent.

  4. @dlb - Baby steps, and only when backed into a corner. That's how the Republicans "govern." Same problem with immigration reform. No big thinkers trying to solve real problems and make people's lives better. The FMLA's "benefit" was that you were allowed to keep your job...if you survived your unpaid time off. When you look at the ideas through the eyes of a corporation, it makes sense to the bottom line. When you look at it through the human heart and social support, it fails miserably.

  5. Rubio’s notion that benefit recipients “use their own money” is a myth. Social Security benefits are a lottery depending on how long you live and when you choose to start receiving benefits. If you decide to maximize your Social Security benefit by delaying receipt of benefits until age 70, and then you die when you are 68, you (and your estate) are just out of luck. On the other hand, if you choose to start benefits at age 62 and live until you are 85, you would have been better off delaying benefits (assuming you could afford to, which many cannot). And how would Rubio’s proposal work for federal employees who do not contribute to Social Security nor receive those benefits? I’m betting he hasn’t thought that far ahead.

  6. @1954Stratocaster Most federal employees now contribute to social security. Those that do not were covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) which covers employees first hired before 1984. Those hired after that are covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System and pay into social security. Many of the CSRS employees have already retired.

  7. @dlb Point well taken. I base my experience on my parents, who are CSRS federal retirees. My father retired after he attained his 30 years of service.

  8. Most of the workers I talk with say that there's no way they could take a family leave even when it is theoretically available. The workplace is often not structured in a way that allows for extended absences. Not sure how that problem can be addressed.

  9. @BC The rest of the Planet has somehow managed...are you saying that American businesses/workplaces are built or operate differently to everyone else? I think not. It is probably more an attitude and bias built up that suggests it can't be done, but the evidence suggests it can and happens in every country in the World except Somalia, Papua New Guinea and the U.S!

  10. @Loomy Until you live here and experience working here, you should not presume anything. To answer your question: YES, American businesses are structured differently and YES they operate differently. Workers are not replaced by temporary workers; their work is typically divided up among other workers and-- some would say-- a disproportionate amount of that extra work is given to childless workers because "What else do they have to do? They don't have kids to go home to..." That is a true sentiment in many workplaces. In addition to that, the workers are already doing the work of multiple people and working 50+ hours a week. So they get hit with an avalanche of new responsibilities to cover the person out on leave with little thanks, no raise, no bonus, nothing. They are just expected to "pitch in" and be happy little worker bees. Then when one of those worker bees breaks their leg, needs to care for an injured or ill relative, or gets selected to appear on Jeopardy, under this proposal, they will be told, "Sorry, no time off for you." And people wonder why there's resentment in the workplace. Save your "other places manage this" remarks. You have no clue what it's like here. Although if you read the comments, you will see that it is indeed very much unlike anywhere else in the world to work in the U.S. when it comes to needing personal time off for any reason.

  11. @BC How come it works in other countries? Just look at how we deal with it in Québec, just north from you.

  12. As a business owner of multiple businesses, employing hundreds of people across them, I support paid family leave. But, I have concerns about incentivizing people not to come to work. I support it because it's the right thing to do, but make no mistake about it: even unpaid FMLA is very hard on businesses. Most valuable employees are not replaceable for 3 months, and if they are, they're replaced by a qualified person who then wants the position. You end up either doing without (to the expense of output and morale of everyone else in the workplace), or hiring to replace the person, losing much time to training, and frantically making room for both employees when the employee who left returns. It is the right thing to do, but it is extremely difficult for business. So, I feel that there should be some cost to the employee to do it so that it doesn't encourage employees to take it at the expense of their co-workers and the company for which they work. Is there another, more humane way that could be done than Sen Rubio's plan?

  13. @Jonny Adler Look at how they solve all your questions and issues in the countries that already offer Paid Maternity Leave, such as in Europe, Australia, Singapore, japan etc America is one of the last countries in the World to not provide Paid maternity Leave...but all the issues and problems you think might affect or inconvenience you and other staff have been addressed and studies are available providing outcomes, benefits and advantages that have become clear with the introduction of this social/societal given.

  14. @Jonny Adler An employer lays off employees to cut costs, to outsource, because of a merger or reorganization, because of automation, and because a more skilled employee comes along. Please don't cry to me.

  15. @Jonny Adler You're right about the morale issue. I've been a workplace where someone has say, two or three children in a five year period and takes full leave and others try to pick up the slack, but there is resentment. My feeling is that if a leave benefit is offered to new parents, it should also be available to anyone for any personal reason.

  16. New York State is in the first year of a statewide benefit called Paid Family Leave, which is funded with payroll contributions (certain people are exempted). In its present form, PFL goes for up to eight weeks, continuous or intermittent, and will either pay the employee directly or reimburse an employer who's paying during the absence. It does not include taking care of oneself, but does allow for bonding with a newborn during the first year of life (for both mothers and fathers), taking care of a child, spouse, parent, domestic partner, parent in law, grandchild or grandparent. It is also more expansive than FMLA because it is offered to some part time workers or to those who have not completed a year of full time service. It is likely that a number of states will have to experiment with different leave structures before a sound one (or an update to FMLA) will go through Congress.

  17. The world is already bursting with 7.6 billion people, with every single person using limited resources and contributing to climate change If our country decides to subsidize maternity and/ or paternity leave, I suggest we limit the subsidy to 2 (or possibly 3 children) per couple. We do not want to encourage people to have more children than our planet can support.

  18. @ann The USA is not overpopulated. And only 2% of American families have four or more children. If you give all families benefits, it's unlikely that they'll have millions more children. If the government gave you several thousand dollars for each kid, would you have 10 more kids?

  19. @ann the government plan is not to 'subsidize' anything, if you read the article the money will be coming directly from individual's own social security

  20. @ann "Too many" children are a problem. Still children are, quite literally, "our" future. (Where "our" is both personal and collective. I am already at a stage of life where the "children" born during my early adulthood are providing the services I need to live.) Making it possible for competent, contributing adults to bring children into the world and raise them will, on average, mean more competent, capable adults going forward. Otherwise, our children--and our future--will come mostly from those least qualified to have them and raise them. Every French company with over 100 employees is required to have an on-site nursery/day-care for their employees with children. Professional staffing is augmented by the employees who use the service, with half-days assigned about 1 week in 6 at the company I was most familiar with. We just gave a gift of billions of dollars to every large US company with the latest tax cuts. Those funds have been used to purchase their own stock (to provide bigger bonuses to their senior management). Providing on-site child-care would take a pittance from their windfall.

  21. If all of us spend tax money to make family care work, we deserve some some in how benefits are structured. In the US, the vast majority of women want to be the principal parent according to Pew, and the vast majority of families work that way. That creates extra costs, of course. And that is a big issue for me. After the first year or so, most parents can choose who does what when it comes to child rearing. Men and women can both ably care for a child who can walk. In my house we did 50-50. One week was hers and one week was mine. We both kept our jobs and even got promoted, though maybe not as fast as otherwise. The typical family in the US divides parenting about 80-20 in favor of the woman. And so economic needs are more likely to be substantial. Frankly, I'd resent subsidizing an 80%/20% couple and I'd want to know why he was only doing 20%. I well recognize that there are exceptions. But an 80-20 average is not the way it should be if my tax dollars are involved. The UK, Germany, and Canada are even more sexist about child rearing than we are. They are hardly models to follow.

  22. Being against this is like being against social security in the 1930's because of all of its faults. The democrats should jump on this, offer a few modifications, but basically buy in. Once it is in place then it can be improved. For example if a 30 year old takes advantage of it today when we have 35+ years to eliminate the reduction in SS payments. We should be able to do that. If we demand perfection now we will never have any paid family leave.

  23. @Scott--Of course I agree with you, but do note that there are many (!) who would either like to scrap the defined benefit nature of social security, or continue to shift the time when people are eligible, rather than do rational things like increase the cap of what is considered social security income.

  24. @Scott For most people, Social Security will be their only source of retirement income because they don't save or plan ahead. By providing early access to those funds, you're unnecessarily jeopardizing your future security.

  25. @Scott I disagree with both @Scott and @Minmin - First, this Rubio bit of chicanery is a devious attempt to whittle away at Social Security, a Trojan Horse. Second, there should be no lifting the cap on the earnings subject to SS withholding without a commensurate bump in benefits - as soon as any delinkage occurs, a big fat "WELFARE" tag is pasted on Social Security's back, further emboldening the Reagan Restorationists.

  26. Paid parental leave is valuable for the sake of the child being born. It is desirable for each child to get the best start at life possible, which means breastfeeding, round the clock care by an involved parent, and sufficient resources. Parental leave shouldn’t be seen as a benefit for parents but for their children. It benefits literally every one, because every one was once an infant. While those who are child-free shouldn’t have to subsidize the choices of parents, that’s inferior to the consideration that children shouldn’t suffer because of who their parents are.

  27. Like many moderate Republicans, I don’t have a problem with paid family leave, when employers are large enough to afford it without going out of business – small guys can’t weather such drains on their productivity. But for large and mid-sized companies? I’d vote for it the moment the left answered a simple question. Where does it fit within the panoply of progressive programmatic and legislative entitlement schemes that Democrats want to enact? Because if today Congress enacted such an entitlement – an unfunded mandate on employers – then the next day Ms. Covert would just start writing about the wrong way to do universal pre-K, or Medicare for all, or universal free post-secondary college, or universal guaranteed income for all Americans, or one of the endless other priorities that liberals seem to place at equal level depending on what day it is. Because you can’t have it ALL. You have to CHOOSE what is most important. Yet we simply hear about all the things Europeans provide their people when they can’t defend themselves against ANYBODY and find themselves between a rock and a hard place as Trump pressures them to get back in the defense game. You have my vote as soon as you can provide a prioritized wish-list of social benefits, in descending order; or one where a percentage of total available discretionary resources is allocated to each. And it can’t be 100% to every one of them: you don’t get to be Max Bialystock. Talk among yourselves.

  28. @Richard Luettgen How is it then, Richard, that European countries that have lower GDP than we do DON'T have to "choose"? We can afford to have it all, but some of those in the upper economic strata, corporations and our super-sized oligarchs have more than what they can ever spend in their lifetimes, and forget that the wealth they enjoy was built by the efforts of the workers. So take back 5% of the 15% tax break that was given to these guys, and the rich will have a more honorable way of getting richer.

  29. @Mountain Dragonfly Pretty much ALL European countries HAVE made a choice. They choose to fund social benefits and let US defend them from the Bear and Islamists. Pity that WE don't have an Uncle Sugar to rely on.

  30. @Richard Luettgen If we are able to afford a $1.5 trillion tax cut to the rich and fund a military at rate that's at least seven times higher than the next five countries combined, then we can certainly afford to provide a level of infrastructure and social benefits that the rest of the industrialized nations provide to their people--just a matter of choosing priorities.

  31. Canada's maternity/paternity benefits can be either 35 weeks ($547 per week) or 61 weeks (328 per week) depending on the plan you choose. They are under the federal employment insurance. It is fairly complicated, but the significant points are that it can be shared, as decided by the parents -- with say, the mother taking the first half, and the father taking the second. http://www.canada.ca/. Search for Ei maternity-parental benefits. Self employed can also be covered under certain conditions. As a former employer, at first I was opposed when the previous 20 weeks of coverage was extended . I discovered that it worked better for everyone; I found it easier to find good replacement employees for a longer term of employment, as they believed ( rightfully) that the position could lead to a permanent position as the company grew. Mothers returned to work more rested, and ready to work. As an grandparent, I saw the benefits of both parents sharing the caregiving. Our son was able to care for his children for four months, creating a much stronger bond than would have been likely in part time parenting. Mothers can choose to return earlier to work, which is particularly beneficial in some occupations. An FYI, the employment insurance plan is funded by payroll deductions, with the employer paying 1.4 times the amount the employee pays.

  32. @SLP Thanks for your information. I was getting cranky thinking about who was going to pick up the "slack" when my co-worker was off parenting. With a plan like Canada's, there needn't be too much of a kerfuffle.

  33. @Rea Tarr You need to direct your anger at your cheap and short sighted employer rather than your co-worker who is simply living her life, having kids, which is a fundamental part of the human experience and what almost everyone else on the planet does. Don't fall for it. Don't let the employer/government turn the people against each other so that they don't have to bear any of the burden.

  34. @Rea Tarr Except in the US no one actually is replaced, especially in civil service where regulations make it take so long, the parent is usually back by the time a replacement is chosen.

  35. Isn't that what a commitment to being a parent means? That we have to put off saving money in order to properly care for our children - you can't expect to do both unless you are rich. You have to make a choice. The government isn't responsible for you raising your children.

  36. @2observe2b The commitment of a parents to raise there child can not be accomplished by themselves. Just incase you have not noticed it is We The People build everything in our world. Meaning infrastructure. Just as we build this infrastructure for our use it is used by industry. Because of the multiple tax cuts over the years that have benefited the wealthy/industry our infrastructure has suffered tremendously The government and society have a large stake in families being successful. If families are not successful then you have no country because you have no workers. Pretty simple it takes a village not only to raise a child but also to have a country.You may not like to pay taxes and neither do I but at least i can comprehend what the consequences are if we do not. Not to mention the elephant in the room wich is the wealthy do not pay anywhere near enough in taxes. We need to remember its not the amount of money it is the percentage that they pay. Example; if you earned $128,000.00 this year you will pay as much money into FICA taxes as a Billionaire. Know that is a just tax. so say you

  37. When it comes to children, taxation ideology must not stand in one's way. When children spend less time with their parents, because the state doesn't provide a paid family leave program, isn't that already a way society interferes with a family's natural way of wellbeing? Just trying to think like an American to make it work for you guys. I'm currently on 7 month paid paternity leave (with 80% of my last income) here in Austria. However, Rubio's plan can be a first step to a paid family leave. The more people experience this important time in their life, the more will support a paid leave program in years to come. Editor’s note: This comment has been anonymized in accordance with applicable law(s).

  38. Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Ann Wagner are selling fiscal hocus-pocus to impress who? The feeble-minded? This boy-and-girl team of math 'geniuses' can't figure out that young people exercising early outlays from Social Security is going to cause the insolvency date to arrive earlier? No, Rubio & Wagner DO KNOW that it will precipitate a larger debate on Social Security. There's a move a foot supported by Freedom Caucus Jim Jordan (who wants to be Speaker) to push the retirement age from 67 to 69. The business end of the GOP is desperate to get this done; and granting this Rubio-Wagner 'favor' to young voters is something of a smokescreen for the large theft. After the Blue Wave, Congress should consider moving into some "modern developed world" solutions. Minimum start: Same 12 weeks, but for pregnancies / babies, a paid day after an unpaid day and so on. We're going to need a new president to push-out the Social Security insolvency date. And we'll get one, by hammering this one with his "tax cut for corporations".

  39. Senators and Representatives need to get out more and experience how regular people live before they design legislation that affects working families. For example, Speaker Ryan has been living in his office for the duration of his tenure. He has his basic housing and security needs met by a self-chosen government benefit in what is basically squatting in government property. The comments to this column that demand parents make choices about the benefits they want or demand to know where the money will come from were strangely silent during the tax cut legislation. An article in today's NYT reports that tax cuts benefited the wealthy and left enormous debt on the backs of working parents. The howls about how parenting is an individual choice, and the government isn't responsible for your children are similarly silent when the issue is women's health and families' choices to have children. It's not only most other industrialized countries that support parental leave; most lower income countries also embed into their health and social policies the importance of a healthy society to economic growth. Thus investing in the health and social security of their citizens is a priority. It's stunning that the U.S. health and social policies are designed to demand punitive outcomes and are deaf to the long term economic benefits and cost savings of family security to the workforce and to society as a whole.

  40. @Rosemary Galette. So then the veterans who come home w/ permanent disabilities are on their own because they made an "individual choice " to serve their country? This admin is an enemy of logic and rational thinking. How much longer will Americans tolerate this outrageous abuse?

  41. @Rosemary Galette The problem is that too many Republicans actually still believe in a form of slavery. I do know how over the top this sounds, but think about it. Their attitude is: be grateful that we throw you a few crumbs, i.e. trickle down. The only thing trickling down is misery.

  42. This reminds me of the tax cut. Sounds great until you look into the details. But the Republicans can always count on a large share of supporters voting against their best interests.

  43. @redweather Yes, the Republicans have long had an abusive relationship with their voters...they more they abuse them, the more the voters vote for them.

  44. Wonderful proposal by Ms. Covert - and one that should be getting more press by the Democrats. Although I prefer a Federal level tax, this tax could also be levied at the State level. The advantage is that it might be more approachable by the purported "States Rights" wing of the GOP (assuming that still exists). The disadvantages are that it would probably limit new parents mobility, as States would (and should) insist on some residency requirements in order to avoid State-shopping by families. And has been pointed out by the columnist and many commenters, family leave must include parents, so as to enfranchise the greatest number of workers. And for those who complain that they don't have children or parents - here's a way to sell it. This will encourage people (or at least not discourage them) to have the children that might be your caregivers in the future. Also, if your colleagues are out on family leave to take care of their families, then there might actually be available paid caregivers for you.

  45. @HN The earth is overcrowded now. The idea that we need more people so that paid caregivers will be plentiful is about as sensible as saying we need more children so teachers will have jobs. Or more roads so cars will have more places to travel to.

  46. @HN I am sorry HN but your reason for childless, parentless people to have children because they could get the benefits of this benefit in question is very weak. For the lifetime commitment of parenting, this benefit is a minute financial reason. And there is no guarantee that this phantom child will agree to care for you in old age. I would not want anyone to have children who are not fully committed to parenting. These children become the problematic adults that we all are called upon to support.

  47. @HN: I don’t have children and never will, and I am happy to pay school taxes and any other tax such as this proposed one that would contribute to healthy children and families. Also, anyone whose primary reason for procreating is to have caregivers on hand in their old age is probably in for a rude awakening.

  48. Having children or not should be a personal decision and the government or the employer should have no part in it. When I was a child in the 1950s very few women who had small children worked outside of the home. In the 1970s, when I had young children, their mother stayed home until they were both old enough for school. If financially necessary, I would work some extra hours. Like every thing else in life, if you can't afford to have kids, then don't.

  49. @Aaron Adams All fine and dandy, but what about a worker who needs to take a few weeks off to care for a sick parent or spouse or even a single best friend with no family? Or to recuperate from surgery or cancer treatment themselves and their disability time/pay has run out? It's called the human condition. Show some compassion.

  50. @Aaron Adams Given that wages remain at the 1970's level while expenses are at the 2018 level.....that solution is no longer an option except for those considered wealthy. It now takes two parents working to provide a middle class life. We, as a society, need to invest in the future: the infrastructure, our children.....

  51. @Aaron Adams Yea, easy for you to say. So, the women that stay home with kids..hmmm...what happens to them if they get divorced? They've lost years of work experience that would get them a livable wage. Big risk to stay home with kids for years. And, better for the economy when women are in the workforce.

  52. Paid family leave is meant to be a benefit, like employer provided health insurance. If workers must deplete their own retirement account, then it is not a benefit.

  53. @MRob: In more advanced countries, employers do not provide health insurance. it is provided as a citizen privilege by government. It could be so here, if the excellent health insurance programs available to all federal and state employees were open to the rest as well. As an added feature (not true now) all premiums paid might become fully deductible from taxable income -- or better yet, applied, up to a sensible maximum, as a tax credit.

  54. @MRob The Democrats plan is for workers to pay an additional payroll tax to get the benefit. Is that really much different?

  55. I can understand why governments might want to provide income for those who choose to leave paid employment for some time after the birth of a child. What I do not understand is why the funding should come from those who normally pay them for services rendered -- when no services are being rendered. Since the government wishes to encourage this practice, then why does the government not fund the stipend? The other question is: Who provides those essental services during this paid leave, and how do employers recruit competent substitutes who know up front that the job will only be temporary? Social activists do not have to think about such problems. Those trying to keep a business functioning and afloat do! Large, high profit, cash flush companies may choose to offer such benefits as a way to lure employee applicants. Not all companies fall into that privileged category. For some this could just be more incentive to ship jobs overseas where such extra costs can be avoided.

  56. @Penseur Oh good grief. How do other industrialized nations manage to achieve this without melting into economic ruin? We'd all love for this "burden" to be borne collectively rather than being placed on the shoulders of Small Businesses Run By Real Americans. But the problem is that these same business people don't want Their Tax Dollars going towards this collective pool, either. So they vote for republicans and stand in the way of laws that would take this burden off of them but refuse to accept it. It's the same thing with health care. Employers shriek and whine and moan about how health care is expensive or they don't want to pay for birth control/ "abortions" or whatever, but then they refuse to vote for a viable alternative. I'm not impressed by their determination to roadblock meaningful resolutions.

  57. @C's Daughter: Much emotion, but no explanation of how to bring about government sponsored child care or health care -- which is how other countries do it. Part of how they do it is by not trying to be the world's policeman and spending themselves poor in the process.

  58. Congress loves to tell us that we cannot afford nice things. The rich who are benefitting from all the tax breaks certainly can. When will Americans realize that there used to something called the "collective good?" Like, schools, fire departments, parks, police, roads, the military? We all chip in a little and share the large benefit. That is not "socialism" but communitarianism. If strong families and strong communities do not make a strong and healthy nation, then nothing will. I agree that we need to do more than just support workers on leave, by not overburdening those who remain, but that's a separate question that also can be answered. Meanwhile, it should be the GOVERNMENT's responsibility, not the individual employer, to ensure a strong and healthy workforce. Letting parents care for their children (and aging parents) seems like an essential aspect of this. Also, kindness.

  59. @Ellen Tabor But look at the infrastructure, look at the deficit that is massively increasing due to wealthy tax cuts while wages go backwards as inflation rises, look at health care that is being shredded by "little" tweaks. Our present government has made it clear: forget the future so that the wealthiest in our nation can gut our country and bank abroad.

  60. Let's first consider the needs of our billionaires before we attempt anything dramatic that might help children. A paid leave benefit may prevent us from giving a 100 billion dollar tax cut to our wealthiest citizens who will then not be able to afford as many yachts. Sad. Marco Rubio needs to go! We need a family leave plan that really helps working families and less well off families. We had a child who needed medical care when he was small, heart surgery. It does impact families.

  61. @DuffyThe family leave proposal described in this article as the best option actually has no impact on wealthy Americans. Since this would be funded by small payroll taxes and businesses would likely recoup their small portion by limiting raises, the system would primarily be funded by workers.

  62. @John I understand, it was sarcasm. Wealthy people claim we cannot afford to fund programs for the less privileged all the time but we can afford to give them huge tax breaks.

  63. Let us examine family leave policies of those in congress. A body of lawmakers, who, incidentally work for us, have given themselves so much more than they have given us. Shall we start with medical and pensions.

  64. Thanks in part to government policies, the average wage has remained stagnant for 40 years. It now requires both parents to work to provide income for a middle class family. For many, even both parents working does not suffice. At the same time, we are one of the very few countries (if only) among our peers that does NOT provide affordable daycare, health care or more than token family leave...if any. Now we are offering parents a choice: to curtail their own retirement (meaning being a possible burden on those same children) and family leave.....a cruel choice for responsible parents. .......Sure, the rich really need their tax credits, the corporations really need to buy back their shares for their stock holders' benefits.....while cutting back on the national safety net....which compared to other comparable countries is not much safety at all. Children are an investment in our future......our government is treating them just as they treat the infrastructure: emergency repairs only until the whole thing collapses.

  65. In other words, the Democratic plan is yet more taxes, while the Republican plan offsets the cost by requiring the individual to repay it - the more responsible approach. Having children or taking time off from work to care for someone is noble, but I see no reason why it this instance it shouldn’t be structured as an individual responsibility. I would prefer no government requirement of leave, as something best left to employees to work out with their employers (and to avoid the incentive to hire contract workers), but if politically necessary I’ll take individual responsibility over collectivism any day of the week.

  66. @DRS Ahhh yes, place all the burden onto The Individual. Wife has breast cancer and needs to undergo a double mastectomy? Better accept personal responsibility and lose your job so that you can care for her! Brilliant plan.

  67. @DRS Whether you like it or not, society is a collective enterprise. There's no such thing as perfect individualism.

  68. First, a fact update. In Demark mothers are allowed a full year of leave. In Sweden they are allowed 18 months, usually shared with the fathers (i.e. the mother takes maybe 14 months off, the father 4 months.) The system works in both countries. Among the advantages: 1) women have children at an earlier age than in the US, an age when childbirth is less strenuous and dangerous; 2) women are kept in the same workforce that they belonged to already; 3) women have more children, which is something to consider since much of the West is experiencing such declining birthrates that its economic and social future is imperiled; 4) families with economic security during child-rearing are better prepared to care for their children, and give them the upbringing they deserve. But above all, IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. Most of the objections in these comments are very narrow-minded. They argue in effect, if it is the right thing to do, how come it wasn't done and why didn't I benefit from it? Or to put it differently, I didn't get to take advantage of it, so how can it be the right thing to do. Why should later generations be better taken care when my own generation wasn't. As for those who say that Americans have manage all the same, I add, look at America! At its relatively low average age of death, its high rate of infant mortality, its high rate of suicide, its ridiculous political condition! (You know what I am talking about.)

  69. @Babble Actually, among Scandinavian nations, only Sweden has a very slight advantage over the US in terms of birth rate. The others actually rank below the US on this front, including Denmark.

  70. Paid family leave plans only encourage both parents to work. Why do both parents work? To have more money to spend on “toys” - a 2nd color TV, a second car, or more frivolous non-essential items. Anything that can be done to discourage instead of encouraging working partners would be a benefit. Unemployment would go down as the pool of available employees would be decreased. Wages would go up because the pool of workers would be smaller and higher wages would need to be offered to hire employees. Children would get the full benefit if one parent stayed home full-time to raise and take care of them. When did having both parts of a couple working start being encouraged instead of discouraged? We need to make it harder, not easier, for two parents to work.

  71. @Bicycle Bob Good lord - you are so wrong in so many ways - the character limit here doesn't allow for a point-by-point explanation of why, but for starters: (1) most couples in which both parents work do so because they HAVE to in order to live a decent life, like being able to afford a decent housing, send their children to college, pay for health care, save for retirement, and other things you no doubt consider "frivolous non-essential items"; (2) rather than wages rising, the super-rich would keep all the benefits, as they have been doing since your undoubted hero Trump effected yet another upward redistribution of wealth; and that (3) it is beyond unlikely that the higher wages you claim would result would even come close to making up the difference in lost income from one parent not working. It must be nice being stuck in a 1950's time warp, but the vast majority of people in this country are stuck in the here and now.

  72. Research has found that for women who want to work, it is better for their children that they work. Daycare can be a positive experience for a child, believe it or not. I'm currently at home with a baby and the idea of being at home with her full-time until she starts school is unimaginable. Fortunately, I live in a country where we can afford part-time daycare even before I start working again. She has the enriching experience of being with other children and I am a happier and better mother for it.

  73. When I think of guys like Rubio and especially Paul Ryan, who became a multi-millionaire while working as a congressional representative as his only serious adult job, retiring to be with his family at 48, being so 'generous' I cannot see straight to spit I'm so furious.

  74. Forgive my lack of knowledge but if Paid Maternity leave came out of Social Security payments already accrued,how many Employees work casual, part time as well as many minimum wage jobs and staff in Restaurants, Uber drivers etc pay into Social Security? If a large section of American workers do not pay or have social security, then this idea obviously won't work. Regardless, the notion of the individual having to pay for her own Paid Leave to have a baby and by doing so...extending her work life and/or reducing her social Security Payments down the line in order to have it, is Ludicrous. Every other Country on the Planet except 3 provide paid maternity leave...there is no valid argument on why America does not nor reason why American Businesses cannot contribute to the cost of ensuring their Employee returns to work, refreshed, grateful and ready to get back into it in much better shape than currently. And Business CAN afford it...I'm amazed how many times on so many areas in regards to pay, hours, conditions and benefits...American business cry poor...can't afford it or threaten it will raise prices and other excuses. This attitude, inability and no desire to improve Employee remuneration, conditions and /or benefits has been so successful minimum wage earners are paid 30% LESS per hour than 50 years ago, wages for many have not moved in a decade or more and American workers are behind all other OECD workers in terms of benefits etc. Yet U.S Businesses are booming.

  75. @Loomy "...how many Employees work casual, part time as well as many minimum wage jobs and staff in Restaurants, Uber drivers etc pay into Social Security?..." All of us, if we're on the books. Unlike income taxes, which get mostly refunded if income is low enough, SS and Medicare and Medicaid are dedcuted and non-refundable.

  76. @Loomy "And Business CAN afford it..." Depends which kind of business. Large corporate behomeths, sure. Small businesses, maybe not, especially those whit razor thin margins. "Business" is not a homogeneous monolith.

  77. How pitiful. Just another false choice so that the very wealthy can benefit. The richest among us have little or no need for the Social Security benefits they draw and also have higher life expectancy and work longer. What we really need is much higher nominal tax rates.

  78. Paid family leave is jut another example of a law that is not needed but is becoming popular. Here in New York State, we already have paid family leave and it's a total waste of time. Official estimates are that only 1 in 65 people will ever use the benefit. That's an awfully low number and makes the benefit basically pointless. And guess who pays for the benefit in NY? That's right, employees pay it out of their payroll. Yet another deduction from their pay. It's a classic example of government overreach and waste. I own a small business with 5 employees and I have had a paid family leave program in place for 25 years and have never had to use it. Paid family leave is just another example of too much government and is totally unnecessary.

  79. @Mike L I don't really believe the 1/65 usage .. unless NYS has a really narrowly defined benefit. I assume this excludes medical leave and just covers family leave, maybe just newborns. Can you quote a source ? 20 million people a year use FMLA .. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2017/09/27/439527/... Also never having anyone use family leave seems odd, don't these people reproduce or have elderly parents ? Good luck with that ! Are you one of those employers who badgers their employees to "make up" time spent ? Is your plan paid or unpaid leave ? If unpaid, or not fully paid, can your employees afford to take it ? Do women quit to have their babies, forgoing their FMLA benefits and why ?

  80. @Mike L Wow, 5 whole employees! Your personal experience surely equates to that of society at large.

  81. @Mike L NYS has had family leave only a very short time. My kids will probably use paid family leave in the future and more power to them. By the way, they're paying Social Security and Medicare taxes NOW in their 20s and won't use those programs for decades. So should they end those programs just because some people are annoyed by them?

  82. Oh just a tiny new tax...Every tax introduced to the American people starts tiny bit doesn't stay tiny for long. By the way children ARE the responsibility of the individual!

  83. @P. Ames: "By the way children ARE the responsibility of the individual!" So, how do you like that smartphone you use? And that computer? And the Internet (and WWW)? You didn't invent them--they were invented here by other people's children! The nation as a whole has to create the environment whereby (all) its children--the nation's future inventors, producers and consumers--can thrive for the good of everyone. WE brought the rest of the world into the 21st C; but we have lost interest in investing in the nation's children and with it our edge and our future. If you "everyone-for-him-/her-self" people don't get over it, we will slip ever further as a leader.

  84. @P. Ames Without children we wouldn't have a society (or an economy, for that matter). Children are necessary, therefore society should help support them.

  85. @MRM Really, that's your argument? Yes the smartphone I use was built and designed by others, so what? I paid for them with money I accrued by exchanging goods and services for monetary compensation. No one gave me a free smartphone so I have no idea what your talking about.

  86. The overall plan seems to be: first, eliminate as many health care benefits as possible, thereby forcing people in the workforce to drop out to care for family members. Then, have the caretakers forgo their Social Security for the privilege of being caretakers. Voila! The elimination of medical coverage, the elimination of Social Security, and the raising of the misery level for less-affluent Americans—the Republican trifecta! There is no kindness in this plan, only calculated ‘free-market’ cruelty.

  87. But let's dispel with this notion that Marco Rubio doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing.

  88. Marco rubio and family leave??? How is that supposed to work? In Europe there are different plans, but all are just part of the way of life. Another example of the USA , richest country in the world , acting like a third world country.

  89. This is just so republican: graciously allowing people to use their own money for a public benefit. Think health savings accounts. The reason they are otherwise opposed to paid family leave is that they think it might encourage low-income people to reproduce. The more affluent you are, the more you can afford to give up some period of paid employment to raise a newborn. Poor people not so much. It's an insidious form of social engineering by the same people who are the first to scream social engineering! about any policy they don't like.

  90. @Stevenz Who says those things are public benefits? It's clear you believe they ought to be, which is one possible outcome of a policy debate. But to treat that as foundational -- to behave as if the debate is over, or never needs to happen -- is part of the problem. I don't believe these things are "public benefits." The need is real, but needing something doesn't magically immunize it from the laws of economics. Somebody, somewhere, works to pay the freight. Should our society make a gift of these things to the people who have the most trouble paying on their own? Perhaps. We can argue toward a consensus on that. But call it what it is: charity. "Public benefit" is a dodge.

  91. Rubio’s plan fits perfectly into the Republican plan for the middle class future. Children strapped with student loan debt, contributing more and more of their paychecks to pay off government deficits, baby boomer/Generation X Y Z benefits and Space Force military expeditions, now will engage in conversations something like this: Aging parent: You owe me! I lost part of my Social Security benefits just so you could exist. Generation Rubio: But, Dad, I’m 75 and still working and not eligible for any benefits. Voice of Arabella Kushner on the TV: Need extra cash? Kushner/Trump Industries has a reverse mortgage for you!

  92. The Republican Party needs to get it: there is a reason for the declining birthrate in America. Tax cuts for billionaires, poor funding for education, and no support for the middle class means that couples are voting with their fertility. Why have children when the deck is stacked against you (massive student debt, little parental leave, rotten health insurance system, no support for education, declining expectations)? Better to have fewer children, retire your student loans and travel in your free time.

  93. @Comp The birth rate has declined equally in nations with much broader safety nets than the US. Having a broad safety net has not at all proven to boast birth rates.

  94. So women, who are already penalized with lower wages, would be further penalized by permanently reducing their retirement income to the tune of twice as long as they take off. It's nonsense to suggest men could as easily do the job. Given the gender pay differences any family desperate enough to do this will also have the lower paid earner taking time off - so the odds are approximately 80 of 100 that would be what happens. And how do you predict income 3-4 decades in the future anyways? Do you penalize both parents equally? If that parent dies do you shift that social security deduction to the other parent? What if the GOP gets their wish and slashes social security? Are you now increasing the impact of that deduction? Or will to deduct from current wages instead? This sounds like last year's tax bill that mostly helped corporate America and the obscenely rich.

  95. This proposal should in no way be referred to as “a benefit,” when it is simply a trade off, and a lousy one at that. That the dim and mathematically challenged Mr. Rubio would propose this legislation is not surprising and that it would be a Republican woman legislator, Ann Wagner, eager to affix her name to a bill which would in all likelihood disproportionately hurt women is totally predictable.

  96. Another lost opportunity in sharing social justice towards parental leave, taken for granted in all civilized countries...expect these United States. Why so stingy, why such a petty behavior, while there seems to be unlimited funds for an already bloated military? Of course, the small mindedness of politicians, shamefully, can be seen also in what defines a wealthy country insofar Health, Housing and Education is concerned, always left wanting in imagination and resolve.

  97. It's no wonder the birth rate is falling in this country. No thinking woman would look at this deal as real support for families. And what about this future bill you have to pay? What if you can't work an extra 25 weeks because you're in your late 60s and no one will hire you? Are you left with a permanent reduction in benefits? This is a bad plan for families that are desperate for support. What a cruel country we live in.

  98. @edv961 The birth rate has fallen in the vast majority of western societies. This includes Europe as well.

  99. So it's actually not PAID family leave but rather SPEND-YOUR-RETIREMENT-$-NOW family leave. Would appeal only to those who either don't understand how they are risking their future or those who are so desperate they have no choice. What a sad situation for such a wealthy country.

  100. The audacity of Mr. Rubio is amazing - he's calling for Americans to rob from their future selves in the name of 'family values'. The end game down the road will be to offer Americans the option of early death, once they can no longer work and have nothing to retire on - lest their needs bankrupt those same children. This will 'solve' the imminent Social Security 'crisis' they've been warning us about for decades. It will also 'reform' Medicare - by thinning the herd of old poor people who tend to have higher medical bills. Genius!

  101. The problem with all of these paid leave programs is that either work does not get done or someone else has to carry the extra load. This is not just a problem for the employer. Consumers, customers, clients, patients all may experience delays. And those who have to pick up the slack do not get extra compensation.

  102. Currently we have a Marco Rubio and Ivanka Trump take on Paid Family Leave but one that falls way short. Once again we have something which may look great on paper providing 'great optics' but does so only because it is framed to take effect in a perfect world. And we all know how that works. This messaging gets Rubio and Ivanka Trump's names out there tied to a headline connecting their name to Paid Family Leave and thus in a strategic position to get spun. Simply 'optics' and in this case, more like the cake you see in a bakery window consisting of cardboard covered in frosting, something placed there for its optic effect to get you attention. But hardly one everyone can sink its teeth into. And when you parse the details of what Ruio and Trump are putting out there it's the poor and lower working class minorities who get the cardboard promises.

  103. "All developed countries -- except for the United States..." Guarantee at least some paid maternity leave Have a national health insurance system that covers everyone Place reasonable limits on guns Guarantee access to higher education without crippling debt Maintain good public transportation infrastructure And so on...

  104. @Pat The college statement isn’t actually accurate. Swedish college students graduate with higher debt on average than American students even though their education is free.

  105. @John - good point, but not sure that is completely accurate either. Swedish students take out loans for their living expenses and some (though few) continue to live at home and reduce that burden. For the others, while their debt levels are high, they are not crippling because they are spread out over 25 years instead of 10 and have lower interest rates.

  106. @Pat Access to higher education without crippling debt is already available. Community College, going to a less expensive, lesser known name college, etc. Like it or not, there are choices. If you live in NY, the most expensive city, you can go to Brooklyn or Queens College for about $3k per semester. So you live at home, work, and go to school. Or you work for a year, bank that money and enroll. That is doable here and if it's doable here, I can't believe a mall job in a small city won't pay CC tuition. But what happens is that too many people want the "experience" of shopping with mommy at Kohls for shower curtains and throw pillows and giggling with glee at upcoming dorm life in an out of state school. So be it, but don't whine about crippling debt when you had options and chose one that promised just that.

  107. "This perpetuates the idea that child rearing is an individual, not a collective, responsibility." It IS an individual responsibility.

  108. @Chris 50% of childbirths are now paid by Medicaid. This might suggests something about the level of as you term it, the individual responsibility of these parent(s). The public will suffer from the recognition that many babies will have the necessary resources to become productive, law abiding citizens. Unfortunately, the U.S. in which we live aren't the prototypical "Fathers Knows Best" family of the 1950's.

  109. @Chris Then may my children opt out of paying for YOUR Social Security and Medicare through payroll taxes? How about that?

  110. @Chris: "'This perpetuates the idea that child rearing is an individual, not a collective, responsibility.' It IS an individual responsibility." So, Chris, how do you like that smartphone you use? And that computer? And the Internet (and WWW)? You didn't invent them--they were invented here by other people's children. WE brought the rest of the world into the 21st C; but we have lost interest in investing in the nation's children and with it our edge and our future. If you "everyone-for-him-/her-self" people don't get over it, we will slip ever further as a leader.

  111. We can have a huge number of people in their late 60s competing for the handful of jobs that will actually hire them or not slowly age discriminate them out of assignments and then jobs .. I am not really even sure I can fathom a job market that will keep people working to 67 ..

  112. NJ has had paid family leave since 2009. It is funded through a small payroll tax. Any federal paid family leave ought to be paid through a similar mechanism rather than by stealing from future retirement benefits.

  113. @Josh You are just further suppressing current wage. Workers will pay this tax too.

  114. @Josh This. It is astounding how small of a payroll tax would cover all maternity benefits. I think Democrats need to put a dollar amount to this to hammer it in people heads. Something like, "Less than $1/week and every woman in the US, including YOUR wife/daughter/mother/sister/etc, will get paid maternity leave if she ever had a baby, regardless of her job." That would show how little it would take.

  115. My advice to my grown childless children is to move to a civilized country that supports family and education for all or don’t have kids.

  116. MA has once again become a leader with the most generous paid family leave bill passed in the country. 12 weeks for both parents for a new child and 20 weeks for your own illness. Up to 80% of individual's weekly pay with a cap. Of course people are going to find a way to criticize this but once again I am proud to be from a leader state who recognizes the needs of the their people... and under a REPUBLICAN governor!

  117. If the current standard of 12 weeks paid leave at full pay is not sufficient, maybe the standard could be changed to more weeks at less pay. How many weeks do families having babies think is a good and necessary amount? Portugal has 43 weeks. Is that too much? Is six months enough? If so then maybe half pay for six months. That would allow the company to find a temp to replace for six months and split the cost with the family. Who knew having kids could be so complicated!

  118. @medianone the current standard in most of the US is not 12 weeks of leave at full pay -- it is 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Big difference there.

  119. @medianone 12 weeks of UNpaid leave in the US.

  120. @medianone - I'll second what the others said - it is 12 weeks of UNpaid leave that is standard. If even a presumably educated reader of the NYTimes did not know that, we are in big trouble.

  121. The numbers have to add up for this to work. Those supporting paid leave need to prove that each person taking 3-6 months off for an average of 2 two children, with paid medical and retirement expenses, and paid time to train a replacement employee who will then be laid off is economically feasible. Such a law would make employers hesitant to hire married women 20-40 years old, especially if they take parental leave after working a short time on the job and don't return to work. Having both parents shoulder the burden by partially funding their leave with social security benefits seems like the best option until something better is proposed. Paid parental leave needs to come with free birth control to increased planned pregnancies, encouraging parents to have a financial plan in place before having a child.

  122. @Anne The ACA mandated free birth control. Everyone insured has free birth control.

  123. This will surely be an unpopular opinion, but I don't want to see a new government program that incentivizes something that is not necessarily best for the child. To be sure, if both parents are financially forced to work or there is only a single parent, the longer at least one parent can stay home with a new baby the better. BUT, what about two parent families that can afford for one parent to stay home permanently? Should the government incentivize that parent to take only temporary leave? Should the government make it easier for one parent to go it alone, for that matter? My experience is that there is no better caregiver for a child than its parents. So maybe target government assistance to the parents with no better options (don't we already do this??), but stay out of the game of changing the incentives for everyone ... in ways that might not be the best for everyone.

  124. @Econ101 Having been both a so-called "stay at home mom" and a "work outside the home mom," there are plenty of reasons to offer paid parental leave. But consider this: if you discourage people from having children and keeping their jobs, they may choose not to have (more) children, thus reducing the pool of workers who will contribute to YOUR Social Security. And what does it mean to stay home "permanently"? Most people have 2 or so children. How many years should one parent stay home? When I take a look at all of the zeroes on my Social Security history and realize I will be working well into my 60s to make up for those zeroes, well, paid leave would have been better for me, my family, and frankly, the rest of the country.

  125. @Another NY reader Don't get me wrong, I fully support companies providing paid parental leave. It makes sense for the company, and is good for the parent. But when the government acts, it tends to change incentives in dramatic, long-lasting, and often irreversible ways. I also do not presume to judge that parents should always give up or halt their careers to stay home with their children, or how long they should do so. BUT for many parents that is the right decision (it has been for my family), and it is a decision that is already financially difficult without the government changing the incentives further the other direction.

  126. Dude: you and your stay at home wife are not better parents than my husband And I were, and we both worked. Your opinion shouldn't be the driver of national policy.

  127. Bryce Covert's criticism of the Rubio plan is well-founded and well-articulated. But her alternative solution, a "tiny new tax," is not. If all you are doing is saying that the worker pays each week a little bit out of their paycheck, and the government saves it up for them, and then gives it back to them (if and only if they have a child), then what have you accomplished? The government is not paying for family leave in such a scenario; they are merely repaying money they collected from the worker in the first place. Essentially, the worker is loaning money to the government, and later gets it back (and only if they have a child). Why force the worker to lend money to the government? Let the worker keep their own money and save it to cover expenses during an unpaid leave. Or, even better, make it a paid leave but fund it some other way than making the worker pay a new tax, even a tiny one. Yes, she argues that the employer will pay a portion of the "tiny new tax," as it does with social security. But economists will tell you that the workers are the true payers of that tax, even the employer portion - because if the employer didn't have to pay that tax, the money would end up going to the employee as higher wages. Essentially, Ms. Covert's plan is just a forced savings account, covertly disguised as a benefit. Paid family leave - good. This approach - not so much.

  128. @Mr. Mark: No, you misunderstand the fundamentals. The idea works like any (social) insurance plan: Everyone pays in, and those with the need (in this case: disability, care of an elderly parent, pregnancy) draw the benefit. Insurance policies, social or otherwise, all pool risk to protect individuals who could not otherwise bear the cost of an incident on their own. Individualist approaches simply don't work with large expenses for most people, which is why we all have fire insurance instead of setting aside our own money for the eventuality that our home will someday burn down.

  129. @Mr. Mark Generally people tend to have kids in their late twenties, when they usually don't have much savings. It's a tremendous advantage if they can borrow then, and have a lifetime to repay it. The advice to "have kids at 38 when you can afford it" is just stupid for multiple reasons. It's true that you only get the money back if you have a child, on the other hand, in a healthy society, that would affect 90+% of population. Having the remaining percentage contribute a little to ensure that the economy still functions when they're old, doesn't sound like a bad idea either.

  130. Thank you for your Op-Ed and the links to your sources. As noted, and supported in the Center for American Progress report, of the 42 developed economies that have paid leave programs, 37 are social insurance, which is how Social Security and Medicare are structured. The employee and employer pay a tax (FICA), and the employee takes the benefit when needed. The report on the lack of impact of California's program on California's economy provides some reassurance. It is nonetheless quite reasonable to worry about yet another social insurance program given that we seem to be doing poorly in estimating the increasing expenses of our current social insurance programs. And there will then be interminable debates about how much should be paid, how much it should increase year-to-year (like the ongoing minimum wage discussion), and whether it is too redistributive in nature. So Mr Rubio is correct to link his plan to Social Security. He has erred in using existing funds. I would like to see the actuarial estimate of the yearly projected payouts - indexed just as Social Security payments are indexed -- and the associated employee and employer tax. Are we going to payout as well as Norway, which offers either 49 weeks at 100 percent wage replacement or 59 weeks at 80 percent wage replacement? I think the premiums may be more than tiny. And it would be wise to not refer to the premium as a "tax". It is an insurance premium. But it may be a good insurance policy.

  131. I am quite disturbed by many of the comments here. It's no wonder we have such a skinny safety net; Americans don't want it. In addition, a lot of people misunderstood the column altogether. It's not about maternity leave alone, it's about leave to take care of any loved one. Too many Americans have been brainwashed from the cradle to believe the "rugged individual" nonsense. The Rubio plan is just another half-baked scheme that gives with one hand and takes with the other.

  132. @Carole A. Dunn It's also interesting to see so many Americans worried that someone else might be getting something at their expense. Generosity seems to be a virtue sorely lacking in the nation. Rather than making anyone richer, however, the lack of generosity seems to make the whole country poorer. Compared to Canada where I now live (and where women get a year off to have a child), Americans have far less financial security. They may, in some cases be a little bit richer while working, but they are also living with far more financial risk. If anything goes wrong, the safety net is so weak that whatever wealth they have will disappear.

  133. @617to416 It's difficult to be generous and hand out your own money when you yourself are struggling to keep the lights on.

  134. @ShirlWhirl Yes, but if you're struggling to make ends meet you shouldn't be the one paying, you should be the one getting. It's people like me who should be paying more so others with less money don't have to struggle as much.

  135. My goodness, a casual reader might get the idea that "pro-family" politicians do not care about families at all.

  136. Why are Americans seemingly unable to learn something from the Europeans? Our lack of childcare support hinders women in their careers and contributes to increased family stress. Would it be so horrible if the government helped out? Sheesh.

  137. What a laugh. First they'll allow parents to raid their own Social Security, then say, as they now do all the time, that "Social Security is disappearing" even though it isn't, then enact legislation to eliminate Social Security for 75+ million Americans. They are clever, and very, very cruel. When do we start calling the GOP the Cruelty Party?

  138. Corporations and the rich are swimming in money. Yet, less and less is asked or expected from them, while all burdens are shifted to average working people. This is a twisted picture.

  139. Greece? Really? We want to use that social/political/economic train wreck as a role model?

  140. @Bob Krantz Greece is an example of the extreme. I can assure you that the US will not follow their lead.

  141. Rubio is the slickest of Republican politicians, who give with one hand and take with the other.He has attacked Social Security under the guise of moderation.Social Security like Medicare stick in the throat of Republicans. They will do whatever they can to weaken what is so important to those of us that depend on Social Security.Paid maternity leave should be a given without strings attached.It is the callousness of the Republicans that will turn America into a Socialist country, it is closer then you think.

  142. Ms. Covert tells us that "[i]n 62 percent of married-couple families, both parents work[.]" I think she meant to say "work outside the home" or "earn money from working." Every time some jerk says "my wife doesn't work," I want to scream.

  143. Overly sensitive, you are. My husband and I cobbled together 4months off after our son was born. We worked after that. Plus we cared for our home and yard, and family members as needed. I volunteered in the community. We owned a business for 10 years that paid for our son's college. No comparison between your lifestyle choice of "not working" with the 70% of those who do!

  144. Another small step away from personal responsibility. Do any of the progressive leaning people ever look at Venezuela?

  145. @JoeGiul Sure. But we also look a places like Sweden and Germany. Sighting the worst example is not always a good argument.

  146. @JoeGiul: No man is an island. Insurance is not a sign of personal weakness, it is a device of financial prudence. Social and financial stability are prerequisites for a stable economy. Venezuela, since you mention it, is a country overly dependent on oil and with a penchant for authoritarianism. That resembles where the GOP is leading us with Trump, not anything that progressives envision.

  147. @Michael The far left and far right are indeed not that different. That is what many “Liberals” fail to understand or acknowledge.

  148. Why should I, a single person, have to pay for your children? Borrow from your retirement.

  149. @M: I suppose you fancy yourself an Island of One—you rugged individualist, you! Did you pay for your own public education out of your paper route money? Will you write a check to the fire department if your house ever catches fire? Will you pay in full the costs of your next medical emergency? Your flip remark makes me think that you have given no thought whatsoever to how societies even work.

  150. @M I would hold this silliness of "why should I, single person, have to pay for your children?" These kids of other parents will be paying YOUR social security once you retire.

  151. @PhoebeS This is only true because the current system works by robbing future generations to pay for the generations that come before. Social Security is the single largest untapped asset that poor people have to build wealth and it unusable by them. The current Social Security system does more to oppress people than benefit them.

  152. Paid sick time for all workers should be a higher priority. Yes, I know, everyone thinks their babies are the bestest things ever. But are you really going to tell an hourly worker that they don't get time off of work when they're sick but that others can get paid to procreate?

  153. Republicans look for any way to destroy Social Security. Robbing it for children is just one more avenue.

  154. Typical Rubio: trying so hard to be the high minded, compassionate presence among his rabid GOP sisters and brothers. It's like his stance on guns....except he continues to gorge himself on NRA donations. Family Leave must entail some monetization scheme otherwise Rubio would have nothing to do with it , especially since it will never get anywhere in Congress. Rubio is a phony. He has snookered Florida where his duplicitous conservatism plays but he is exposed and fails miserably when he ventures beyond the state.

  155. Or how about THIS novel idea? Corporations and the upper income Americans could pay a small tax to support paid family leave. The rest of the "first world" countries have it...so this should appeal to even the MAGA devotees. After all, aren't the "worker bees" the ones who are assuring that the "Queen Bees" are being able to be paid their excessive incomes and get stock options, and have cash to invest that they are less and less taxed on and able to avoid the "death" tax so their kids can hire nannies? Remember the saying about "happy wives mean happy lives"? Well (tho it doesn't rhyme), happy employees means more money in the pockets of CEOs. By the way, what happens when your worker bees no longer submit to the siren song of super-productivity? Or when we have a REAL Recession or another Depression? What are y'all going to do when you fall from your golden thrones into the real world? Come on GOP....how can you look at yourselves in the mirror? Have you no shame?

  156. FMLA is also weirdly specific in regards to card for aging parents - you can take unpaid time to care for your own parents, but not your in-laws. There’s so little sense in so much of this.

  157. All this will do is to encourage more grown children not to have children of their own.

  158. "Pro-life"? Once again, the "family values," "pro-life" party is showing its incompetence and heartlessness when it comes to "governance." This is beyond robbing Peter to pay Paul. This plan continues to show that to many, "pro-life" is really "pro-birth." Look elsewhere for true care, compassion, hope, and support.

  159. One of the things that tends to trip people up with regard to this issue is that there is a sentiment on the part of some parents— evidenced in the comments area on pieces like this— that childless workers are not supportive of parents. I don’t believe that is the case at all. The problem is that life— in all forms— happens to everyone. The birth of a child, a sweepstakes win of a trip of a lifetime to another country, being a finalist in a national chess competition, a ill parent, making the finals in a cooking contest, caring for an elderly neighbor who has no one and is recovering from an operation. The list goes on and on. Any time “paid leave” comes up, it is always about parents. Parents get upset and accuse anyone against it of not caring about “community”or the “future” or what have you. Fine, believe that you are more worthy. But parents with this view are too blind to see that that kind of attitude is what ensures a complete lack of support from those without kids and enables businesses to do nothing about it. If parents would band together with everyone and demand that leave is available to all, the support would be off the charts. But instead, what happens, is that many parents put little value on the needs of their childless co-workers and then wonder why their childless co-workers do not support them.

  160. Rubio, like Ryan is a huge disappointment. Rather than being big idea people, they just rob the future to pay for their corporate masters.

  161. So i just can't comprehend why people can not understand why it takes a village to raise a child. They seem to understand that it takes a village to have a military /infrastructure/schools/exct. Why not kids. They are after all our future to survival. If We helped more then maybe we would not have so much crime maybe we would not have as many abortions. It seems to me that if we acted more like a civilization we would have more civilized children who could then be civil. People are so hung up on themselves because corporations and the wealthy have not been paying there fair share. Example; if i earn $128,000.00 this year. I will pay as much into FICA as a Billionaire. The tax laws need to change. This is not just!

  162. @oscar jr FICA is not a tax. It is a forced savings program. If it were a tax, it would make sense to make the threshold higher. But it is not a tax, it has never been sold as a tax, and it has never been a tax.

  163. Not everyone wants or needs these benefits, so the Rubino system which allows people flexibility with their SS benefits makes a lot more sense than new taxes and new entitlements. If the left's answer is always more spending, like the 43 trillion dollar estimate for medicare for everyone nothing will every get done. But a modest helpful program like Rubino's can get done.

  164. Way to go Rubio and Wagner. That is like saying if a person is starving, instead of the gov't giving you food to keep you living, they instead give it to you but take any food you get away from you in the future.

  165. There is not now, or will there ever be a “perfect” plan for paid leave from a job. There are just too many variables to consider. As with any social program, there will be those who will abuse it. However, with that said, we as a country must come up with some kind of plan to allow parents to be just that: Parents. Our children are the future to our civilization. When I was growing up in the 40’s, my father worked and my mother raised the home and family, Today, it’s almost impossible to do that because of our economy. If our country can spend Trillions of dollars on stupid wars, one would think we could spend some of those dollars on family; the future of our civilization.

  166. @Eric Cosh I agree it is harder today for one parent to stay home. I think that is largely because two parent households earn more and drive up the cost of a lot of things, the cost of housing in particular. But it is not impossible. A lot of families still choose to have one parent stay home. That is often a financially difficult choice, but it is the choice my wife and I made, among many poor career choices when viewed in solely financial terms. We made that choice because it was the best one we could make for our children. One thing I know is that if the government takes more from my salary so that two working parent households can take more time off of work, the decision my wife and I made will be made that much more financially difficult.

  167. Family leave is suppose to benefit families. Mr. rubio needs to put his retirement funds on the table so the working public can see just what he would have to give up in order to spend “family time”. What a con-man he is.

  168. Paid leave, one of the strengths of unions. Paid leave is negotiated and once an agreement is reached it is no longer an arbitrary issue. Middle executive levels benefit from unions. When an issue is negotiated and a benefit is improved, management generally brings middle management to the new higher standard.

  169. Here's an irony: the birth rate of white people in this country is significantly lower than that of hispanics and black people. One reason people have comparatively few children is they can't afford child care let alone paid time off for child birth or taking care of a sick child. If our country had benefits like paid sick leave, assistance with child care and help with tuition affordability, more people (including white people) would have more children. But we don't because we don't want the gov'ment doing things that people should do for themselves---even if it means a lower birth rate for white people and the apparently dreaded time when whites become a minority in this country.

  170. @Susan The birth rates in European nations are as low or lower than in the US. There is no evidence that paid leave will have any positive impact on birth rates.

  171. Evangelicals and Mormons with 5 kids per family and Catholics with 4 kids per family are the big winners in this income redistribution game. And they would happily steal from responsible taxpaying parents with 2 children. Perhaps the $200,000 spent educate each child in public schools is a bigger differential for large families than the cost of paid time off. And obviously, people with no children, in a vastly overpopulated world end up paying to help overpopulate the world.

  172. As usual, the Republican plan kicks the can down the road. Get the benefit now, deal with the fallout later. I have seen my parents struggle waiting for their own SS to kick in. Both have worked since the age of 16. Both have heath problems that make working in their field impossible. I can't imagine what they would have done if they had to wait longer. Social Security has lifted millions of elderly Americans out of poverty. Please stop trying to screw it up.

  173. "But Republicans’ policy responses have been feeble" "employers could pay a tiny new tax alongside" This Administration just passed a $1,500,000,000,000 tax cut, most went to the wealthy and big business. The author was too kind to say Republicans were "feeble" in their response to paid family leave. Miserly or better, non-existent best describes these cheapskates. They don't care one iota about the families struggles these days, only the wealthy and corporate who line their pockets. If you want a reasonable and fair paid family leave program, that doesn't suck the lifeblood out of your future retirement benefits, best you go to the polls this November and vote.

  174. @cherrylog754 Quite simply put, it’s the workers that are going to pay the small tax, not businesses. Even the writer of the opinion piece acknowledges this truth to some degree. I personally believe that the cost will be fully paid for by wage and not company profits.

  175. So, instead of having parents pay for family leave by delaying retirement 6 months (which seems to be a fair trade-off), you think it's better to have them pay a tax in perpetuity? I don't see why your proposal is any better.

  176. Nobody that supports paid leave understands economics or runs a business, especially those that employ low-income workers. Total compensation (salary + benefits) is ultimately determined by the profitability of the business and the productivity of the worker. By forcing employers to pay sick leave or maternity pay (or health insurance, or other benefits), all you are doing is forcing the employer to cut pay or benefits elsewhere. The overall workforce does not benefit. It is not a coincidence that the two European countries mentioned, Greece and Portugal, are among to poorest in Europe and have huge government debts. Those debts are other promises like the sick leave that people are expecting, and are planning their lives assuming they will get, but will not receive when these governments go broke.

  177. @George G. and people against paid-leave, love to understate the reasons why Greece, et al, are going broke. Their alleged evil social programs are minute portions of their multi-faceted problems. Their bigger problems are mostly multi-level corruption, and the pitfalls of gov'ts borrowing, and of those lenders who prey on failures in borrowing... Look at Puerto Rico...they got abused by the lender/borrowing hyenas.

  178. @George G.In addition to the U.S., the only other countries that do not mandate paid maternity leave are Lesotho, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea. These are not exactly economic powerhouses. Germany, France England an the Scandanavian countries all offer paid leave and they are doing just fine. Between high student debt, no paid maternity leave andhigh cost of childcare & health insurance, the U.S. is not family friendly.

  179. I fear what incentives any government-funded paid leave program will have. And I am certain that it will make the decision my wife and I made more difficult. We decided that she would give up her career to stay home with our children. I also changed jobs to take a less lucrative one with better hours. We made these bad financial decisions so that we can be the primary caregivers for our children. And it has been financially difficult. We keep strict budgets, we live in a house that always feels too small, we have taken several "staycations" instead of traveling somewhere for vacation. But those are worthwhile tradeoffs for us getting to spend more time with our children when they are small. For my family, at least, I know we made the right decision. But if I have to pay more out of my salary (the sole salary for my family) so that two full time working parents can take more time off, that makes my family's decision even harder financially.

  180. @Econ101, Parents make their own choices where necessary. For my household, I've decided to continue my career, and pay for group daycare during those first few years. It's expensive (and cost more than most minimum wage jobs can take home), but it allows me to stay on the career ladder without stepping because it'll be next to impossible to rejoin my field of work (IT). My husband also chooses a field where he can control his work schedule. Does that make us lesser parents than stay-home parents? I don't think so. In fact, I like the kids to have the chance to interact with other kids in a group setting from early on, rather than only one-on-one with the parents or small choice-group of adult caregivers. With more financial flexibility, we move to a neighborhood with good public schools as well. I cannot emphasize enough that having the financial wherewithal remove a lot of stress from the household. Those who give up their career to become stay-home parent probably realize that, to later regrets.

  181. @tiddle We all make the choices we feel are best for our families. I will not criticize your choice or presume to know what is the best choice for other families. I also know that the choice my wife and I made is NOT the correct choice for everyone. I just don't think the government should make it harder for families to make the choice that we made.

  182. @Econ101 How much harder is it that the government makes you do from Rubio's proposal? You don't have to take the extra weeks upfront (and pay for it with working the 25 weeks later), if you don't choose to. In fact, what you're asking the government (and hence the rest of the taxpayers) to make your life easier, thereby funding your lifestyle choice. Sure, it's your choice, I respect that; but don't expect others to fund it either.

  183. The United States is going to have to make a choice: continue to let great wealth accumulate to the few or start to redistribute wealth to provide greater financial security to the many. In the US, if you have a good job, you can live quite well. But the expense of education, housing, healthcare, and many other basics make it hard to accumulate wealth. Americans are therefore extremely dependent on maintaining a steady income, and if one's job disappears (and it can at any time in today's economy) one can tumble precipitously into poverty. This dichotomy—the ability to live quite well while working but the constant threat of helpless poverty if an income disappears—is creating an unusual amount of psychological stress among Americans. America is not a happy country anymore. The anger we see in our politics reflects a deeper state of psychological distress Americans are experiencing thanks in large part to the financial insecurity and uncertainty that looms over us at all times. America must address that problem soon—living with a constant nagging fear of financial ruin is just no way to live.

  184. I agree with the author's solution, where the government isn't funding this benefit, but employees and employers are co-funding it, similar to social security. However, the liberal oft used comparison of the U.S. to "the rest of the developed world," is a false argument, to wit: "All developed countries — except for the United States — guarantee at least some paid maternity leave, ranging from six weeks in Portugal to 43 weeks in Greece." Portugal and Greece have failing economies, much of it due to socialist economics. Also, keep in mind, most of the "developed world" don't pay enough for their own defense, but rely on the U.S. It matters not how much of their GNP, or per capita spending on defense. A country must have its own forces to defend itself. Either you do or you don't. If it shifts the burden to other countries, and as a result is free to spend more money on social programs, then in essence, the countries that carry that economic defense burden are subsidizing those social programs in other countries. That's economic reality.

  185. @fairtax 1.those nations economies are failing mostly due to corruption. not their socialist policies. 2.most of those developed countries don't believe they need to be so heavily armed, to defend against all the made-up boogey men their Right wing politicians use to scare their voters. Its our need to be the ones in charge that forces us to spend so much on defense. We dont defend other nations...we act as intermediary in often ridiculous ways. We've chosen this role, the rest of the world didnt make us do it...

  186. @fairtax In the last 35 years the bulk of the wealth of America has been distributed primarily to the top 1%, largely happening because of the huge tax cuts to this group. In the 1950s Corporations contributed approximately one-third to the governments coffers. Today it is less than 11%. The idea that it is a choice between the military and social programs is nonsense. When all is said and done, the recent tax giveaway will increase the deficit by almost 2 TRILLION DOLLARS! Another $70 BILLION went towards increased military spending. Why, because Trump said so and Republicans like wars and meeting the demands of their buddies at the military/industrial complex? All these other countries which tend to be much more egalitarian in nature than America anyway, in order to have universal healthcare, less costly education and better social programs because, are willing to pay higher taxes than Americans whom clearly want these benefits but are not willing to pay for them. The political nature of these countries and the amount they spend on their military has virtually nothing to do with your argument as to why America is at the bottom of the list. America's problems with these issues have always been the priorities on how taxpayers money is distributed and the people they elect that actually design legislation on how that money is spent.

  187. @fairtax As for the responsibility of other countries to independently fund their own defense, that's a straw man argument. As long as there are superpowers, no smaller country could ever defend itself against one of them for long. That's why we spend billions propping up Israel's defense and promise to defend it from attack. That's why we have NATO. Even the US needs help from allies. You can quibble over what percent of GDP each ally should spend on its own defense, but you cannot argue that they can defend themselves alone.

  188. We all will pay for family leave in one way or another. My wife and I moved halfway across the country and spent the last nine years caring for her mother. It cost me a good job that previously supported us well and she was the primary provider, and so could not work anymore. We gladly made the trade, but the cost was incredible to us. We'll never truly recover now that Mom has passed, but we're trying hard. There were no benefits available whatsoever.

  189. @DBA That's a real story. A story that most everyone will have to deal with, in some way, some fashion. It might not be are monumental as "nine years" but it will be something, one month, two months, a lot of travel, time off and it will be expensive, very, very expensive. It is going to happen to almost all of us, one way or another.

  190. @DBA Agreed. My mother had dementia and lived to 100. It's quite difficult to take care of elderly dependents while working full time yet the cost is untenable otherwise.

  191. I pay a tiny tax now for disability, a benefit I can call on in the case of a longer term leave for illness. That tiny tax gets me $170 a week of leave pay, not even enough to pay for the healthcare plan. How much is the tax for child care? And how much will it pay out? Will hourly workers get just a few dollars, but highly paid people get a bigger chunk of change? If the benefit is $170 a week, you' be nuts to touch your Social Security - because you are already most likely sacrificing your contribution to a 401K. We have created a social hole with our dependence on two jobs to support a single family, even as we have expanded opportunity that frees women from having no choice but be homemakers. We need to focus not just on leave - and making sure that taking leave doesn't penalize a worker - but also on programs that help fund elder day care, better solutions than nursing homes, and affordable child care. Finding solutions like co-ops for child care, in which part time workers can trade days and care for a small group of children. We could make part time work a better deal - simply by taking healthcare out of the worker's equation and separating it from employment. We need to get our collective head out of the sand and recognize that we have driven wages down sufficiently that a family now needs 2 jobs, when 50 years ago they needed only one. That policy focus would improve the situation for a family that needs leave.

  192. @Cathy: Those who were not around as adults 50 years ago do not understand that consumption and family spending patterns were very different back then. It was not the golden age of high salaries vs. cost of living that you may imagine. Wages and salaries, in real terms, were actually considerably less that they are now. When we decided to have a child, and Mom would therefore leave her job, we worked hard at economizing. Dads also struggled to find ways to improve income. I know. Been there; done that.

  193. Actually Penseur, your may want to repense your comment. Every economist and every study issued in the last 30 years demonstrates that real wages have been falling for a large percentage of workers since the 1970s. Thinkers don’t make the logical fallacy that because they experienced life a certain way, everyone else did.

  194. The second solution sounds like a better option. Round up the FICA tax to 8% paid by both Employer and Employee. This extra .35% tax could be put aside, in a separate fund for both paid family leave and Medicare for all, not just for retirees. Then the Republicans will have no reason to fight Great health care for all or paid family leave. I actually doubt that the Republicans will vote for it, but I can dream.

  195. No. Just increase the highest income tax bracket by 10% to pay for it. And make it a generous benefit. Why do we need to kluge together these elaborate schemes to deliver a half hearted, underfunded benefit to the working people of this Nation?

  196. @Jean Such a small increase would not at all cover Medicare for all.

  197. @John Obviously I did not do the math. But I figured it was a starting idea.

  198. Lower and moderate income workers are struggling right now, and increasing the Social Security tax from 6.2% will be a burden. That said, paid family leave is a necessity for many people, especially lower income workers. The way to solve this problem is to make the Social Security payroll tax more progressive. If politicians increase the Social Security tax to pay for family leave, they should also raise the cap. (The cap is the income level at which workers stop paying a percentage of income into the system. The current cap is at $128,700.) Raise that cap $10,000 per year until it reaches at least $200,000. At the same time, gradually reduce the percentage taken out of paychecks from 6.2% to somewhere around 5%. This would strengthen Social Security, help provide family leave, and reduce the burden on lower income earners. Let's get this done.

  199. @Susan why cap fica at all, and why only tax wages. Remove the cap. Repeal the payroll tax, and increase income tax one or two percent.

  200. @Susan Except ... I'd left the cap all together, and I'd impose Social Security taxes on both earned and unearned income (i.e. on capital gains income, too).

  201. Perhaps it would be best not to have children unless one partner can afford to leave the paid workforce until the youngest child is in first grade. The way the tax code is stacked against workers, the second wage earner doesn't really bring that much home after the government takes its cut and you have to pay for child care, transportation, work clothes, work meals, etc. from what's left of your pay check. And no, the solution is not subsidies from government paid for by taxes on other citizens. There are already more people alive than the Earth can support at even a lower-middle class standard of living without becoming a complete ecological disaster, so how can it possibly be good public policy adding to the burden?

  202. @Earl W. It's a mistake to stay out of the workforce based on the tax code. Not all couples stay together and if one (usually the woman in a heterosexual relationship) uses this faulty math to opt out of work, then she will be making up for the lost credits years later as I am now.

  203. @Earl W. So the poor should not have children. I guess that would solve child poverty. You might have to up immigration to deal with a labor shortage. If this is an example of MAGA it is pretty sad. As one of the other articles said in today's NYT -"not a civilized society". Historically the poor have had more children and will likely continue to do so. What's next? Forced sterilization of the poor?

  204. @Earl W. "Perhaps it would be best not to have children unless one partner can afford to leave the paid workforce until the youngest child is in first grade." So only the upper-middle class and wealthy should be able to have children? That is not a solution.

  205. A “tiny new tax.” There is no such thing. I fail to see why I have to pay more taxes so someone else can not work. I could support a family care deduction for low income families, but this needs to be phased out based on income. I don’t want to be paying taxes so one person of a two income family can stay home for several months for family care.

  206. @MyjobisinIndianow Do you realize that by encouraging parents to stay home with their children when they are first born, this makes for happier and healthier adults? It actually costs less to have paid leave and socialized healthcare than to not have it as evidenced by the lower effective taxes (i.e., if you take our taxes plus our healthcare and allocated childcare costs) in every other developed nation

  207. I'd rather subsidize 12 weeks of family leave - for the care of children, spouse or parents - than subsidize massive tax breaks that benefit only the wealthy.

  208. @MyjobisinIndianow -- I'm curious. When you go to a doctor -- do you ever consider the family that sacrificed to raise and educate that individual? Parents nurture and invest in children who then go on and contribute to society. Your teachers, the engineers who built the bridges and roads you travel, your doctors. All these people were once children -- from whom you now benefit. You can choose to be childless, but very likely you depend on someone else's children for the quality of your life.

  209. How about making it PERSONAL leave time? That way childless people are included in the effort to humanize the workplace. Also, I have no relatives to care for me should I be in need. Why can't someone take leave to help me? Why does it have to be a family member they are aiding?

  210. @kathy I agree. In an age when diversity and personal freedoms are celebrated the idea that the childfree are to subsidize those who make other choices seems draconian. Also, many of us do not have the correct "family " to receive even the unpaid benefits under the current policy.

  211. @Gideon " ... that the childfree are to subsidize those who make other choices seems draconian." Gideon , even the child free were born from their Mother. So what's draconian about a benefit that will positively affect and benefit 100% of every person in America (once it is introduced and every person born after benefits which means everybody in time) You are being selfish as is anyone who are against this by the fact that they may not decide or end up being a Mother /having children. Those people forget how they came to be.And wouldn't they want their Mom to have had the best support and assistance possible? Well this covers ALL humans eventually so what could be fairer than that?

  212. @Gideon While you might not want to pay tax because you don't get the benefit doesn't quite work. When you collect Social Security, you are collecting from all those "families" that had children who are paying SS taxes. You may be able to support your lifestyle now, but consider that you could have an accident, disability or illness that requires you to use "family leave. Also, consider this...you pay taxes that support Fire and Police protection. You don't usually need those either, until you do. Your "me first" that you feel is your right is what creates divisions. Personal freedom allows you also to live in a society that takes care of you when you are down as well.

  213. Putting aside the debate over the merits of paid family leave, the Rubio-Wagner plan is just a bad idea. This plan incentivizes short-term thinking by those who will be most in need of Social Security in their old age. It exploits the fears that SS will not be around in the future, so you'd better take what you can now. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is just another cynical attempt to weaken the social safety net.

  214. @BG This plan is like the one that allows for you to take money out of your retirement account and pay the early withdrawal penalty and taxes, etc. It is never a good idea and financially, devastating. A low interest loan at 3 percent would be a better idea. Still not a good idea.

  215. @BG It sounds like the old "rob to the poor to pay the rich" but here it is rob from the poor period! We can not expect anything but this type of behavior from the Congress, yes Democrats and Republicans alike. They have much to answer for but I doubt if they ever will.

  216. @BG: Talk about putting the truth out there for all to see! Thanks.

  217. The reason Marco Rubio and others think this is a great solution is because they don't have to worry about their retirement. They won't experience any periods of long term unemployment and will be able to retire in comfort. That's not the case for most of us. Lose a job for any reason once you're over the age of 50 and finding a new one is nearly impossible. And yet you cannot collect social security. The best you can hope for is to get a minimum wage job that might keep body and soul together. Become seriously ill or require more than a few weeks off from work and your job disappears. That's not what Scalise experienced after being shot. He's still in Congress. All in all, America is now a country run for and by the richest to the detriment of the rest of us. The GOP is, in effect, telling us that we are not worth anything to them except as wallets to raid to fund their tax cuts.

  218. I work for a midwest division of an international corporation that offers three months of paid leave. They've worked it out in HR and as I head into my 8th month of pregnancy I'm so thankful for this benefit. Knowing that I will have time to recover and help my family and our new person adjust without having to rush back to work is a huge relief. Several other international corporations in our community offer similar benefits. I can't help wondering if they started doing this due to the ROI they see from maternity leave for their international employees. Congress is really behind the curve here, as usual. Paid family leave will help everyone and is a smart investment.

  219. @Andrea Why are you not naming these great companies that put their workers' needs at the forefront so people can know who they are?

  220. @Andrea International companies may be more willing to grant paid leaves because they operate in other countries where these leaves are guaranteed and generous. I know people who deliberately asked to be transferred to European offices knowing that they would have better pregnancy and maternity/paternity benefits. Their thinking was why not take the option and spend some number of years in France, Sweden, Germany etc, give birth, take advantage of excellent government subsidized child care centers and then move back to the US when their children were older. The sad thing is that while many make much of "life" in the US, as a country we don't really like children. They are individual property, not a national asset.

  221. @Andrea Andrea, a smart NYT like yourself must surely realize most employers cannot afford significant levels of leave. This fact represents a significant percentage of employers, many others simply unwilling. What isn't recognized how important it is we invest in our children(soft infrastructure), building hard infrastructure--road, internet, rail, etc in all of our communities. If we want to continue the path toward a great nation, we must concede that the quarterly profits of private companies should be subordinate to the long term national well being. Is it socialism, capitalism? Are our resources in reality inside one silo or another?

  222. This is just another example which underscores why capitalism is losing popularity. The election of Donald Trump was consequence of this long term worker frustration, that is, losing jobs to foreign countries, automation or illegal immigrants. In this instance, it is the worker forced to make a choice between his or his child's well being. That is because the employer class has wide latitude as to what he keeps for himself, his shareholders, vs. what he chooses to offer the employee. This narrows the employee into making uncomfortable decisions. Our citizens fail to recognize most of us are in this predicament, not out of lazy stupidity but suffering under the cudgel of capital.

  223. @tennvol30736 More people have benefited from capitalism than are harmed by capitalism. This is universally true. Even the Scandinavian nations that people look to use their capitalism economy to drive all improvements in social life.

  224. @John Forcing parents to make choices like the example in this article, is compromising the interests of the family and child to be benefit of the employer. I have no problem with capitalism but the recognition that greed of the employer, often compromises the quality and dignity of people, is why wars are fought, poverty exists and the basic needs of many are unfulfilled.

  225. @tennvol30736 This choice doesn’t exist because of capitalism. It exists because having children requires resources. In reality, people of higher income tend to have fewer children and those of lower income have more children on average. Most predicaments have more to do with poor financial decision making than failures of capitalism.

  226. Nothing could benefit society more than more parental involvement in the lives of children and more secure attachment. The time of greatest need for a parent to be at home is when the baby is < one year of age. Daycare carries risks for babies this young and we ALL pay for the results of children who do not develop secure attachment and emotional self regulation, a skill that is primarily acquired 0-2. Every intervention that improves attachment and parenting skill and competence inside this window is going to reduce the future costs of education, health, and mental health for the lifetime of the baby. See James Heckman, a U of Chicago economist, who says $$ spent 0-5 pays back at an annual rate of return of 13%. See The Nurse Family partnership, where a 10K intervention pays for itself before the child is even in kindergarten.... The Nurse family partnership intervention is all about shoring up the mother-baby dyad and helping vulnerable new moms with difficult circumstances and often trauma histories to become competent, empathic moms. In one study, giving a fabric carrier like a Sling or a Baby Bjorn to a new Mom and telling her to use it for a few hours a day has been shown to DOUBLE the rate of secure attachment among the infants. Daycare for infants is a costly proposition -- no matter who pays for it. We have outsourced mothering to our kids peril. Lack of emotional self regulation drives anxiety depression, and school issues.

  227. This opinion piece feels more like whiny piece. For one, according to the stats quoted, only 6% of current workers are covered by employers under FMLA, then what's the point of "forcing employers to pay a tiny new tax into social security" to cover for this when you're only talking about 6% of employers doing so? What of the rest 94% of employees? I'd bet too that if you ask most new parents whether they want to trade 12 weeks of leave upfront with working 25 weeks longer before retiring, they'll give you a resounding yes. Indeed, it's an individual choice to have children, and for responsible parents, they'll make that sacrifice. As to those two-thirds cases quoted in the article that are not related to childbirth, but of own serious illness and caring for sick family/relatives, let's not muddle the water and lump these cases with parental leave needed for childbirth. I'd say, Rubio's proposal is a decent compromise. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water, and spite anything proposed by GOP. Of course it's nice to have someone else covering everything from cradle to grave. But the money has to come from somewhere. If American taxpayers are not willing to pay 50-60% taxes to fund all the social programs, as other countries in the West do, then we'll have to find compromise where we can.

  228. @tiddle Rubio's proposal is dangerous for current retirees, because it would drain the trust fund, which would result in benefit cuts for people who worked all their lives, can't get another job, and are already living 50% below the federal poverty line, since the SS COLA has essentially been ended.

  229. People who earn more than the bare minimum to survive should be able to save enough money to take a few weeks off after giving birth, the real need is for good child care available for everyone. The worst thing people can do is borrow to maintain a lifestyle, if everyone lives below their means our capitalistic country will be forced to change. Poor people will not benefit from this plan, they need every dime they earn today-this is a benefit for people who won’t need their social security when they retire and don’t care if it is there when they retire. Much like 529 savings plans, the upper middle class and the wealthy are the beneficiaries of Republican plans. People need higher wages and good retirement benefits, especially women, paid family leave is a distraction and a great divider.

  230. @DJM Most people don't have $500 to spare for an emergency. Living well within one's means doesn't mean that a person can afford to live without pay for three months-- indeed, the very reason most people live within their means is because they're working their fingers to the bone to have the means to live. New York and New Jersey have two of the most generous paid family leave policies in the US, and they cost pennies (here in NY, literally, less than $2 per paycheck). They should be longer and offer more compensation, but they're inexpensive and don't harm employers. No one is asking for a handout, just a lifeline.

  231. @DJM No. It’s not an either or situation. We need both paid family leave AND affordable child care. A child’s first few months of life are crucial. Most moms and babies need more than “a few weeks off.” Data show that many families don’t have enough savings to last 3 months without an income so that also shows that families aren’t able to save enough for 3 months of family leave.

  232. @DJM, you meant to say: like 529 savings plans as recently extended by Republicans to cover private schools for the wealthy. Right?

  233. Are the illusion of the possibility of wealth and the hatred of our neighbors so great that we as Americans put up with doing so many things, for so many people, so much worse than every other developed nation? We can afford to do the right things, yet we don't. It is embarrassing, shameful, and harmful.

  234. It's bad enough that when you're on unpaid leave, you're not paying into Social Security anyway, so the requirement that one borrow from SS is basically penalizing a person twice.

  235. @JustJeff Actually, Social Security is indexed to the highest 35 years of a person’s earning history, so it really depends on how many years you work and what your wage growth is over that span.

  236. One thing to note: California's SDI (State Disability Insurance) program is paid for by employees, not employers.

  237. Overpopulation in he U.S., especially in a country that uses a disproportionate share of the world’s resources, means we should be encouraging people to forgo having children, not encouraging them.

  238. Unfortunately, Rubio's semi-charming, boyish, good (for a Republican) looks are paired with a tiny intellect, and the usual Republican indifference to all folks not in the upper middle class. Work out the economics of this "plan", which I believe was originally devised by Ivanka, for yourselves.

  239. In a country where jobs are insecure and salaries stagnant, where housing, medical care, transportation and education are costly and of poor quality, anyone who adds to insecurity by having children is nuts.

  240. It seems all the discussion here is about two-parent families. What about all of the single-parent families? They don't have the choice. Yet a single parent has just as much to gain by time spent with a new family member. Make it a social benefit. It makes for stronger families and a stronger, healthier happier country, and that's just as important as all the other stuff taxes pay for.

  241. Rubio's proposal is a classic example of political expedience trumping good policy. He wants to provide a new benefit without raising taxes to pay for it. The plan even makes sense in a world in which Social Security is solvent and works the way it was sold. In that world, Social Security is a trust fund holding their retirement money. So why not let parents decide to delay retirement by a couple years to spend time with their infant children now. It's their money, their choice. Problem is, Social Security is not solvent. It's long term liabilities far exceed long term revenues under current policy. It is hard to imagine Social Security retirement benefits for today's new parents looking the same as it does for today's retirees. We will have to do some combination of increase the retirement age, increase payroll taxes, or cut benefits. And ultimately, probably all three. So what happens to the people that already delayed their retirement benefits by 2 years under Rubio's program? Will their retirement benefits get pushed back an ADDITIONAL whatever amount the age limit increases in the future? Or will we wash all that out in the future. This is called kicking the can. I'd prefer that we bear financial responsibility now for whatever policy choices we make. At least then we can weight the costs appropriately.

  242. "This perpetuates the idea that child rearing is an individual, not a collective, responsibility." It's news to me that it isn't. What a terrible idea, that we be responsible for our children. Maybe they should sleep at government facilities, too. I hear there are some near the border, with chicken wire walls so that interested parents might check in every so often, if they care. Family leave is simply the people voting themselves largesse. The solution is for families to field only one breadwinner. That's a way better business model, but we find ourselves in an egalitarian prisoners' dilemma. Only the two-earner family can afford the nice home in the nice neighborhood, because it costs so much because so many two-earner couples can bid on it. Legislation is a form of collective bargaining. We can impose a new cost on business, causing prices to rise, or we can impose a new cost on government, causing taxes to rise. Rubio's bill puts most of the cost on the employee, as if having children actually entailed an obligation to rear them. I don't think the bill becomes law, but it seems a very useful pedagogical tool, opening for discussion the question of what it means to bring a child to life, and what it means for a society to devalue motherhood so radically in the name of "fairness."

  243. What if the breadwinner is female and needs to take time off from recovering from birthing a child? What if you are the breadwinner and have to take care of someone who is sick?

  244. Once again the Republicans are misleading (or outright lying to) their constituents in order to curry favor, probably for those November votes. This bill is titled "The Economic Security for New Parents Act." For the reasons cited in this article, nothing could be further from the truth. Those who take advantage of its provisions will actually jeopardize their economic security. We've already seen defined benefit pension plans go the way of the dinosaur - in favor of 401(k) programs that favor corporations over workers. Now we are telling workers to further decimate their retirement savings by "granting" them this option. Meanwhile, income and wealth inequality are reaching even greater heights in this country. The Republicans address that with a massive tax cut for the wealthy. Reject this idea in its entirety! Tell your senators and representative to vote NO until a paid family leave bill is introduced that is an actual benefit to the people it's designed to help.

  245. Sorry. I don't want to pay higher taxes so that other people can have paid time off to take care of their children. They need to work out these decisions with their spouses or partners, not expect to burden everyone else with the consequences of their own private intimate decisions about when and whether to have children and how to take care of them.

  246. @Lilo I assume you don't want anyone taking time off to take care of you either ? Even having someone in the nursing home and tracking their basic medical needs and maybe saying hello once in a while takes up a lot of time.

  247. So you don't anticipate having to take leave for any issue? You will remain in good health for your entire working life and so will all your family members? This isn't only about child care, but about any need for medical or compassionate leave.

  248. Then why live in the United States? we are not an autocratic society nor will we ever be. I don't have children I'm raising either but I say raise the taxes. It's necessary for our society as a whole.

  249. If family leave were paid as a supplement or addition to FICA taxes, Republicans would be sure to label it an entitlement, complain that it was ruining the nation's finances and make every attempt to cut it for at least 50 years into the future.

  250. For the richest country on the planet, we are just too darn stingy to care for our people. Health care, good jobs with a living wage, working schools, child care and parental leave... these are not extravagances -- gifts from of our noble legislators -- but basic and fundamental steps in promoting the general welfare, for which government was ordained.

  251. Next volley in the Republicans' war on poor people. Next up: keeping them from voting.

  252. John Boehner, called unpaid family leave “another example of yuppie empowerment,” and Representative Cass Ballenger reportedly smeared it as “socialism.” The rest of the world would like to know: what is wrong with you people?

  253. What's wrong with us is the fact that many of us don't bother to vote, and many who do vote against their best interests.

  254. I have to wonder if there is some gene that creates cruelty and sadistic tendencies? If there is, it seems an epidemic among Republicans.

  255. The first idea is really dumb. Let's encourage companies (with some incentives) to provide some amount of paid and secure unpaid family leave. Why do we live in such a mean spirited country?

  256. It’s amazing. The GOP and it’s pols were pushing legislation last year that would deprive 30 million people of their healthcare. They passed a tax cut that will literally increase taxes on the lower tax brackets and deliver massive cuts to the wealthy. Now, in an election year, they start making noises about kluging together some half baked plan to force average Americans to tap into their retirement funds to get time to care for their children. To borrow from Mr. Churchill, “Whose dog do they think we are?!!”

  257. Um, let’s not be Greece. Things have not work out so well for them.

  258. When are we going to face the reality that the Earth is overpopulated?

  259. Oh but Americans don’t want paid family leave! That’s socialism! US is the greatest, right? Family values and all that.

  260. @Zejee Americans dont want another "entitlement" program. I love the way the Republicans call a more than adequately self funded program like Social Security and Medicare an entitlement program like its a bad word. WORKERS and EMPLOYERS FUND the SSA FICA fund. The government does not pay for it. The government only steals from it. Interesting to have Mr. Rubio propose a Socialist progressive program. Why not fund the Parent Leave fund like the Social Security trust fund?

  261. The average SS recipient collects back all their contributions within four years of claiming benefits. Only 60% of the cost of Medicare is covered by payroll taxes and recipients monthly premiums.