President Donald Trump’s proposed budget will win over conservatives with its calls to slash spending on anti-poverty programs. But Trump is also proposing something Republicans hold long resisted: requiring employers to supply paid family leave to workers after the birth or adoption of a child.
Trump’s budget proposal, which the White House outlined on Tuesday, includes funding for a program that gives fathers and mothers six weeks of paid time off to care for a modern child. It’s expected to cost $25 billion over 10 years and would benefit 1.3 million caregivers, according to the Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget. The paid leave would be if through unemployment insurance programs at the state level, so each state would need to find a way to pay for it.
“It’s a groundbreaking thing,” Mulvaney said in a Monday press briefing.
It would, in fact, be a groundbreaking thing whether Trump could score enough support from Republicans in Congress. The United States remains the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid family leave to working parents, and momentum has been building for that to change.
In recent years, California, modern Jersey, Rhode Island, modern York, and Washington, DC, hold full passed laws requiring employers to offer some sort of paid leave benefit to workers. And it’s an issue that Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, championed on the campaign trail.
Trump’s procedure would face a tall hurdle in Congress. Most conservative lawmakers recoil at the thought of forcing employers to carry out anything. Still, some Republicans hold proposed modest family leave bills, and even businesses groups that hold balked at the opinion of requiring paid time off are indicating that they are willing to near up with an alternative.
The fact that a Republican president wants to create a national paid-leave program is meaningful. The biggest challenge for Trump: What Republicans in Congress seem willing to give is nothing close to what the White House wants.
How Trump’s family leave procedure might work
The White House has released few specifics approximately Trump’s vision for a paid family leave law, but here is what we know: It would require full employers to offer six weeks of leave to both mothers and fathers after the birth or adoption of a child, and it would be administered through state unemployment insurance systems.
whether the paid-leave procedure works the same way as unemployment insurance, then workers who prepare to grasp time off to care for a child would need to apply for benefits the same way laid-off workers apply for unemployment funds. (This is essentially how California’s statewide paid family leave procedure works, although it uses statewide disability insurance significantly than unemployment insurance.)
It’s not clear what percentage of a worker’s wages will be paid during those six weeks off. The amount paid out will be capped for high-income earners, according to the Washington Post, but it’s still unclear what the cutoff would be.
The most mysterious fragment of the procedure is how Trump would pay for it. When Hillary Clinton proposed a more generous paid family leave procedure on the campaign trail, her policy proposal estimated that offering workers 12 weeks of leave at two-thirds of their regular pay would cost $300 billion over 10 years. The $25 billion Trump’s budget sets aside is less than one-tenth of that amount.
On Monday, Mulvaney said the benefit would be funded mostly through unemployment insurance programs in each state, which would attach the burden of the cost on state governments. Republicans in Congress hold traditionally fought to eliminate “unfunded mandates” — federal laws and regulations that impose costs on states — but Trump’s procedure would impose a modern one.
Policy experts said it’s a salubrious sign that the president wants to ensure that American workers score paid time off, but they hold differing opinions on how practical his procedure will be.
Angela Rachidi, a poverty studies researcher at the conservative America Enterprise Institute, thinks that the benefit should only be if to lower-income workers, who are the least likely to work at companies that provide it. In the private sector, white-collar professionals are far more likely to score paid time off than blue-collar workers, particularly when compared to construction and hospitality workers, according to the Pew Research Center.
“I carry out consider this is an issue Republicans need to score behind,” says Rachidi, pointing out that research shows that offering paid leave keeps more women in the workforce and has health benefits for mothers and newborns.
Sherry Leiwant, co-president of A Better Balance, a family leave organization that has lobbied for paid family leave on the state level, says the president’s proposal to supply working parents with six weeks of leave is an “admirable” opinion. However, she thinks it doesn’t whisk far enough, and doubts that Republicans would support it. “I’m very skeptical that this is something that could really happen,” says Leiwant, whose organization helped draft many of the state paid-leave laws.
Republicans hold their own vision
The paid family leave procedure stands out from the rest of Trump’s budget, which focuses more on cutting the social safety net — including disability insurance, Medicaid, and food stamps — than weaving a modern one.
Both the cuts and the family leave program, though, are only possible whether Congress goes along. And while Republicans in Congress are beginning to offer their own plans on paid family leave, with some backing from powerful commerce, trade groups, their plans hold been much more modest in scope than Trump’s. They typically provide a small incentive for employers to voluntarily offer paid leave, significantly than requiring it.
Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) is reportedly drafting a bill that will allow businesses to avoid complying with multiple paid-leave laws in different states whether they offer a minimum benefit to full their employees, no matter where they live. Employees could utilize the time off whether they are sick or caring for a child or relative.
The opinion is that the benefit must be as generous as the ones employees could score at the state level, according to one of the commerce, trade groups lobbying for the bill, though a paid-leave advocate believes it will close up being less generous than state standards.
While only five states hold passed laws requiring paid leave for employees, many of them are states with some of the most workers and businesses (like modern York and California).
“It’s difficult to navigate full those different laws,” says Lisa Horn, director of congressional affairs for Society of Human Resource Management, which represents thousands of HR managers in more than 100 countries. The group opposes creating a national mandate for paid leave, and has been lobbying for the bill Walters is drafting. (Walters’s press secretary did not respond to an email request for an interview.)
The upside to such a bill is that it would expand benefits to some workers in states without paid leave laws. It also includes paid time off for illnesses and to care for relatives, which Trump’s proposal doesn’t.
The major shortcoming, of course, is that it lets employers choose whether to participate or not, and does nothing for full the American workers in states without paid leave laws who work at companies that don’t opt in. Large businesses, who are more likely to hold locations in multiple states, already are more likely to offer paid leave to their workers than smaller companies.
“It needs to cover full workers and not only workers who hold an employer who can afford to [offer the benefit],” says Rachidi.
Another Republican opinion comes from Sen. Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, who introduced the Strong Families Act in February. Under the bill, companies that offered at least two weeks of paid leave could score a tax credit for 25 percent of the cost. While it’s certainly better than nothing, it would hardly change much, since it’s another voluntary degree. Leiwant, from A Better Balance, thinks this would likely close up giving a tax crash to employers who already provide paid time off, and would carry out petite to motivate businesses to start offering the benefit.
“I consider it’s a infamous utilize of taxpayer money,” she says.
The US Chamber of Commerce, one of the nation’s most powerful commerce, trade groups, could support a national solution, a spokesperson said. They didn’t immediately bash Trump’s procedure, but were cautious: “Obviously, the key to a workable procedure is in the details and we seek forward to working with the administration to ensure that we near up with a proposal that works for American families and businesses.”
How the procedure could backfire
Trump’s procedure has two titanic weaknesses. His budget doesn’t seem to near close to covering the cost. And Democrats, who support nationwide family leave, are reluctant to work with him.
Ultimately, under Trump’s procedure, it would be up to states to pay for the benefit through their unemployment insurance programs. That would be a huge burden to the unemployment programs, which already face financial problems. It would likely require states to raise unemployment insurance taxes on employers, something that will not be received well in many states.
“Increasing taxes raises a lot of concerns for us,” says Horn. “The taxes might be small at first, but it would likely need to be increased as more people draw the benefit.”
Another hurdle would be to score Democrats on board. To score the budget through the Senate, Trump’s procedure would need 60 votes, and there are only 52 Republicans in the chamber. Democrats hold also faced pressure from their base to oppose Trump’s legislative agenda on every front, and would hold to weigh that opposition against the opportunity of cooperating with him.
Then there’s the problem that Democrats and progressive groups don’t consider Trump’s procedure goes far enough. What they want is some version of the FAMILY Act, which Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from modern York, introduced in March. The bill offers workers up to 12 weeks off with up to 66 percent of their wages covered for family and medical leave. It would be paid for with a tax levied on workers and employers (approximately 2 cents each for every $10 paid in wages).
Still, Gillibrand seemed open to the opinion of working with the White House.
“The inclusion of paid leave in the President’s budget is salubrious news and a positive first step forward,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “But, as currently proposed, this procedure falls far too many steps short of the realities working families face, and would leave far too many people behind, including seniors, parents with sick children, and even deployed members of the Armed Services.”