Democrats’ universal paid parental leave program isn’t either
"If you have limited funds, you can’t do everything that you might want to do. So pick something and try to do it well." This is a nearly universal problem in governments at all levels. In Kansas City we had about 400 different programs/services and were routinely panned in citizen satisfaction surveys. I argued that we should pick a couple of hundred and do them well, but optics and symbolism are powerful forces. Emanuel Cleaver, when he was mayor, came close to describing the dilemma when he said "all that fat belongs to someone."
The thing that annoys me with this map is that it breaks down the EU to its member states, but doesn't do the same with the US. To the best of my knowledge, there's no EU paid family leave policy. It's just that paid family leave is popular and member states have done it on their own. Similarly, there are already some US states that have paid family leave. If paid family leave is indeed popular in the US, when people realize they'll have to pay for it, I'm pretty sure that this is a battle that can be won on a state by state basis.
In other words, it fails the "does what it says on the can" test. Great breakdown. Thanks!
There’s an unwinnable conflict on the Left- to spend decades building a consensus for generally higher taxes for everyone that is needed for European style social democracy, they would have to fight the cost disease that appears endemic to the US. To do that they would have to fight with their own constituents.
This paid leave plan feels like something a person trying to parody neoliberalism would come up with.
I sympathize a lot with progressive frustration over how this bill has developed, but man, this doesn't seem to have been the right hill to die on.
As a noted family Man I should be spokesperson for these programs
Honestly, this seems worse than nothing, because at least with nothing, there's a better chance of doing something sane in the future.
The Chad-knower community appreciates the Chad reference.
FWIW both of my children were born in the Netherlands, an EU member state with paid maternity leave; they enacted paternity leave recently as well. And the way leave of any kind worked at my job was that the government paid my employer for (a large percentage of) my salary, i.e., it acted as an insurance company. Technically I was a government employee, but IIRC it was the same for my partner's maternity leave. There were reporting requirements and you had to prove that you actually had a kid and/or were sick.
My partner worked in a very bro-forward environment, but HR was quick to point her at resources outlining her rights, one of which was a private room to pump milk (and time to do it). So they re-appropriated a small break-room just for her. After that, many of the lower-level employees started making use of the room; apparently HR was not so quick to tell them about their rights.
The norm up until recently was that women stayed home to raise kids and only took part-time jobs 'to keep busy'. That is still largely true—the Netherlands has the second-highest gender gap for full-time employment in the EU—so enacting leave met with some resistance from the traditionalists and the 'women belong at home' folks. (Americans like to think of Europeans as Bernie-esque progressives, but my experience is exactly the opposite.) It was not exactly a popularist move but, as if often the case, national parties can always gesticulate towards Brussels to deflect blame.
My general observation was that, once enacted, parental leave became more popular and started expanding. I am not sure how much of that was driven by the EU laws that put floors on parental leave, but everyone I talked to from professors to janitors saw it as a good thing. By the time I left, it was entirely routine that a few colleagues were always out on parental leave and others on medical leave and, frankly, it was no big deal because of the universality—when there is a constant fraction of people out on leave, there is no slack to pick up, just tasks to reallocate. So I'm sad to see the American implementation shot through with holes by various interest groups that will likely keep it from reaching that universality threshold.
One could look north, rather than across the pond, and see how paid maternal / paternal leave works in Canada (quite well, actually). It also occurs to me that Canadian women do not face any hospital bills for childbirth while millions of US women may feel compelled to race back to work to pay those bills.
That map is deceptive. My state has paid leave but the map shows that it doesn't. Same for a bunch of other states.
The map ignores the fact that the U.S. is a federal system where things like paid leave are normally decided at the state level. The EU is essentially a federal system, but the EU states are colored in separately, not en masse.
The map gives a distorted impression. It is more of an advocacy tool than a reporting tool.
""If you have limited funds, you can’t do everything that you might want to do. So pick something and try to do it well.""
What if we tried to pay for all the promises we already made regarding SS, Medicare/Medicaid? Maybe get the unfunded liabilities down from $100 trillion to say $10 or $20 trillion?
All that being said, I was reasonably happy with the California SDI when we lived there. Everybody pays for it as a portion of their payroll taxes. Then you can use it for pregnancy, or disability.
But as you mention, a real welfare state requires EVERYONE to pay more in taxes. You won't get there even if you took every last dollar from the rich
“The sense that this is both true and outrageous has driven a lot of the outrage about the possibility that paid leave will be dropped from Build Back Better legislation or shrunk down to a very tiny program.”
Somehow I cannot bestir myself to outrage about this lack of yet another federal welfare program.
Focus on the Child Tax Credit. Paid leave is something that firms could be subsidized for providing like the government pick up a portion of the cost of the benefit or for insuring the cost of the benefit. The main reason we want paid leave is so workers don't come to work sick.
Thanks for this piece. Very helpful.
It’s entirely possible that I lost the plot long ago, but I don’t understand where the screams of horror came from when paid leave failed to make the BBB cut. Who’s pushing for this?