August 18, 2018

Since the election of President Trump, his daughter, Ivanka Trump, has made paid maternity and family leave a priority of the administration. This has been evident in many of Ivanka’s speeches as well as the President’s White House budget. While this can certainly be appealing, the facts say that it will be more harmful than helpful.

Although the United States does not have a federally paid family leave policy, it already has the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which requires businesses with 50 or more employees to provide 12 weeks or more for family or sick leave with the guarantee that employees will not lose their job. Various states have expanded that law and businesses have chosen to give additional benefits in tandem with FMLA. However, a new proposal has become popular claiming to remedy this “social insecurity of our time.”

Recently, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ann Wagner (R-MO) introduced a bill that allows employees to dip into their Social Security funds. The Economic Security for New Parents Act (S. 3345) permits a portion of one’s social security to be taken out in exchange for delaying the timeline in which they would collect those benefits as a senior citizen. This leaves the door wide open for the federal government to begin allowing individuals to borrow from Social Security for other things such as personal debt or a down payment for a home.

Social Security is already a failing program. The current aging population far outnumbers the younger taxpayer base. The declining birth rate leaves Social Security at a funding loss with projections of its cash reserves to be depleted by 2034 unless Congress acts.

Would this be another entitlement program? Absolutely!  Instead of teaching Americans how to properly earn and budget their money, they will learn how to depend on the federal government for all of their means. This will only increase the nation’s deficit with more people using the system for financial means without being able to pay taxes. The federal government currently holds $15.7 trillion in debt and Congress continues to pass spending bills that increase that amount. The Heritage Foundation has estimated that this proposal would add a conservative estimate of $9-12 billion to our national debt per year, creating a quicker timeline of the Social Security program’s depletion. This puts our economy at extreme risk of instability.

There are alternative ways to encourage motherhood and provide financial stability for those who take family leave. One of these ways is to encourage strong, responsible fiscal policies from Congress. As the economy grows, more businesses will have the financial opportunity to work with families on their leave policies. In addition, as more individuals are hired into a stable workforce, they will have a more reliable income that may supplement any family leave that needs to be taken. Congress has already taken a stab at this by lowering federal taxes through tax reform.

Phyllis Schlafly constantly pointed out the dangers of federally mandated or funded leave. Those facts have not changed. Using the Social Security program is not the answer to supplementing the finances of families when making leave decisions.