Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and first daughter Ivanka Trump are pushing for a paid parental leave plan that is actually worse than the current federal policy ― which is no policy at all. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that offers no paid time off to new mothers.
Under the Rubio-Trump scheme, which is based on a proposal from the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, new parents would fund their parental leave by tapping into their Social Security benefits early.
Parents would get 12 weeks of benefits ― estimated to be about 40 percent of average worker pay ― in exchange for what the Independent Women’s Forum claims would only be six weeks of Social Security retirement benefits down the line.
The plan does not account for anyone who needs to take time off to care for a sick relative or deal with a personal illness.
In a Tweet last week, Rubio admitted that the plan isn’t “perfect,” but it’s better than the status quo.
Paid leave is generally understood to be a policy that would help women, who typically bear the burden of childbearing and rearing. Mothers who get paid leave are more likely to stay in the labor force and are less likely to rely on social programs like food stamps to get by.
But the Rubanka plan would have parents pay for children with their retirement funds ― essentially stealing from their own future well-being. That’s a particularly painful proposition for women. Though they live longer than men, women have less money saved for retirement. Indeed, women on average get $1,154 a month in retirement from Social Security, according to the agency’s data. Men get $1,466.
This is partly because women are more likely to take time out of the labor force to care for children and other family members, working just 75 percent of the years men work.
It’s also thanks to the gender pay gap. Overall, women make 80 cents for every dollar on average a man makes. Mothers face a wider pay gap of 71 cents. If you’re a woman of color, the numbers look even worse.
The plan does not account for a mother (or father) who has several children. The more kids, the bigger the penalty, with each leave period funded by another chunk of retirement benefits. This could effectively discourage people from having kids ― maybe not a great idea in a country with an increasingly aging population and declining birthrate that’s also trying to cut back on immigration.
“With the changes in the labor force and potentially in immigration, we need to be encouraging people to have kids,” said Jeff Hayes, program director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.“They’re the workforce of tomorrow.”
This could effectively discourage people from having kids — maybe not a great idea in a country with an increasingly…