Ivanka-Rubio ‘Paid Leave’ Plan Leaves Working Families Behind, Undermines Retirement Plans and Weakens Social Security

Washington, DC—Following is a statement from Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project:

“Today, we mark the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act. On this day, it’s also being reported that the Trump administration is once again engaging in conversations about an ill-advised national paid parental leave plan. Although NELP enthusiastically supports a real paid family and medical leave plan such as the FAMILY Act, the proposal contemplated by Ivanka Trump and Senator Marco Rubio, as reported, fails on at least two counts.

“First, it would not deliver even a basic package of benefits needed to meet the everyday challenges of today’s working families. Second, and deeply troubling, the proposal would force people needing paid leave to borrow from their future Social Security benefits, thus obligating them to delay their retirements and undermining Social Security, our nation’s bedrock retirement security program.

“It’s time for the United States to join other industrialized countries and offer a basic set of paid family and medical leave benefits. This includes at least 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a newborn or adopted child or a seriously ill family member, including an individual’s parents and children, as well as workers who themselves have a serious health issue. If the plan now being discussed mirrors the one in the president’s budget last year, it would be limited to six weeks of parental leave and only to care for a newborn or adopted baby.

“Three out of four people who take leave from work do so for family and medical reasons; they would all be left out of such a proposal.

“The reported Ivanka Trump-Marco Rubio plan would have parents with newborns or adopted babies tap their Social Security benefits early to ‘pay’ for their leave time, forcing them to delay later retirement plans and reduce their future retirement benefits. This premature draining of funds from Social Security would also add fuel to the fire of those who never believed in Social Security, have worked assiduously to undermine public support of the system, and regularly seek to ‘reform’ it by cutting benefits and raising the retirement age.

“It would force people needing time to care for themselves or family members to choose between taking paid time now or retirement benefits later. That’s an unfair and unnecessary choice to foist on people whose incomes are already precarious. And any plan, such as this, that threatens Social Security should be off the table. Period.

“America’s working people need and deserve adequate benefits to care for themselves, their family members, and their newborn children—and to build and maintain secure retirements. It is perverse to suggest that the ability to meet one of these needs has to come at the expense of meeting the other. Surely, a White House and a Congress that can shower hundreds of billions in tax savings on the top one percent and $1.4 trillion for corporations can find a way to support working families as needed over their lifetimes, without resorting to sleight of hand that is more an accounting gimmick than a real earned benefit.”


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