Family leave that allows mothers to take time off work when a baby is born is a time-honored policy in America. More recently, Dads have been receiving leave too. But traditionally, it’s either unpaid or paid by a person’s employer as a benefit. Some companies offer very generous paid family leave. Sometimes employees save up vacation or other paid time off and use it to stay home with a newborn or newly adopted child.
Now, Senator Marco Rubio has introduced a bill that would put government into the equation. He has rolled out legislation that would essentially allow new parents to borrow from their future Social Security benefits to pay for time off when their baby comes. This bill supposedly pays for itself by fast forwarding to retirement when parents would forgo the first three to six months of Social Security checks.
I appreciate the sentiment. Senator Rubio loves to help parents. But there are many problems with his proposal.
First, it creates a new entitlement. What entitlement that has started out small and targeted has ever remained that way?
Second, Social Security already has a lot of pressure on it. It’s projected to be insolvent in 16 years. Parents having children now won’t retire for at least another 30 years.
Third, the proposal would remove the incentive for companies to offer paid family leave. One analysis, done by Ben Gitis at the American Action Forum, found that two-thirds of workers who took family leave were paid, with most receiving their full salary.
Mr. Rubio claims his proposed leave policy would not expand government. But, The Wall Street Journal asks, “what is expanding government if not taking a benefit financed by private industry and administering it through a government program?”
In this current worker shortage, companies who want to attract young workers could offer generous family leave or flexible schedules to accommodate child-rearing.
We don’t need another government entitlement.