Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS a Deal on the EEOC<p> A federal court last month ruled that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had violated federal law when it decreed that businesses couldn&rsquo;t take account of criminal history in hiring. Judge Sam Cummings found the agency had violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to provide the public with notice and the opportunity to comment on its decision. It also was a self-defeating policy, in terms of preventing discrimination. &ldquo;In the absence of better information,&rdquo; Civil Rights Commission member Peter Kirsanow noted, &ldquo;employers use race as a proxy for criminal history.&rdquo;</p> <div> <p> But why didn&rsquo;t the EEOC withdraw this misguided Obama-era rule on its own? Because Obama-era commissioners still run the show. The EEOC is a bipartisan commission led by five presidentially appointed members. Two seats are vacant, giving Democrats a 2-1 majority. President Trump has nominated two outstanding candidates to fill the vacancies and give the commission a 3-2 Republican majority.</p> <p> Chairman-designate Janet Dhillon is a lawyer and corporate executive&mdash;the sort of woman who would be celebrated as a feminist trailblazer if she were a progressive Democrat. In fact, she&rsquo;s a conservative stalwart. The other nominee, Daniel Gade, is a retired Army Ranger who lost his leg in combat in Iraq. He holds a doctorate in public policy and administration and has taught at West Point.</p> <p> These nominees should be shoo-ins. But as a condition for allowing their confirmation without lengthy debate, Democrats have insisted that Mr. Trump nominate Chai Feldblum for a third term, after her current term expires in July.</p> <div id="realtor"> Some Senate Republicans have understandably balked at confirming the very progressive Ms. Feldblum to another term. But this means that, rather than having a Republican majority on the EEOC commission, Ms. Feldblum and the other Democratic commissioner, Charlotte Burrows, are running the show. When Ms. Feldblum&rsquo;s term expires in July, she could continue to serve as a holdover for months, until a replacement is confirmed or the Senate adjourns.</div> <p> The Republicans who oppose making a deal are holding back what should be an era of aggressive reform at an important government agency. Employers large and small could be affected on matters ranging from religious liberty to data-collection requirements.</p> <p> With an uncertain majority after November, it&rsquo;s more important than ever that Senate Republicans appoint as many qualified conservative nominees as possible. The EEOC would be a good place to start.</p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasWed, 21 Mar 2018 09:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPence praises Trump CIA pick<p> Vice President Pence on Tuesday praised Gina Haspel,&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="261287" href="">President Trump</a></span>&rsquo;s pick to be CIA director, calling her the right person to fill the &quot;vital role.&quot;</p> <p> &ldquo;I&#39;m very excited about it because I know Gina real well and I couldn&#39;t be more proud of her,&rdquo; Pence said in remarks at the <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Women&#39;s History Month Celebration hosted by the Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></strong></span></span>.</p> <p> &ldquo;Gina Haspel is stepping up to lead our nation in this vital role.&rdquo;</p> <p> Trump said Tuesday he intends to nominate Haspel to the top spot at the nation&#39;s spy agency after he ousted Secretary of State&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="344964" href="">Rex Tillerson</a></span>&nbsp;and tapped current CIA Director&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="188003" href="">Mike Pompeo</a></span>&nbsp;to take his post.</p> <p> If confirmed, Haspel will be the first woman to lead the CIA. But Haspel, who has been at the agency since 1985, is also facing scrutiny&nbsp;over her involvement in waterboarding and other torture techniques used on detainees at a secret CIA prison in Thailand in 2002.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The Independent Women&#39;s Forum, a conservative nonprofit group that focuses on women&#39;s economic issues, had awarded the vice president with the &ldquo;Working for Women&rdquo; award in 2017.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Pence cited women in leadership roles in the West Wing and throughout the administration. And he also commended women who are &ldquo;heroes each and every day&rdquo; in businesses and homes across the nation.</p> <p> &ldquo;It&#39;s the women of America who in every real sense throughout our history have lifted our communities, have lifted our families, have lifted our nation,&rdquo; Pence said.</p> <p> Pence also touted the GOP tax-reform bill and the 300,000 jobs created in February. He said the thriving economy would especially benefit women.</p> <p> &ldquo;Nearly 40 percent of entrepreneurs in America today are women,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And for them, and for all job creators, the actions that President Trump has been taking with strong partners in Congress are making growing a business easier than ever before.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;We&#39;re going to continue to work to expand opportunities for every American and for women across this country,&rdquo; Pence vowed.</p> <p> Also at the event was Sen.&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="347869" href="">Joni Ernst</a></span>&nbsp;(R-Iowa), who introduced Pence.</p> <p> She said the two had many similarities, citing their support for strong families and their Harley-Davidson motorcycles.</p> <p> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m thinking if we get out of here on time and get the Secret Service out, we might actually grab a couple of those motorcycles and take them out for a spin,&rdquo; she joked.</p> L. LukasWed, 14 Mar 2018 15:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAt Women's History Month event, Mike Pence celebrates Gina Haspel's nomination<p> Vice President Mike Pence celebrated President Trump&#39;s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency at Women&#39;s History Month event on Tuesday evening, hours after the commander in chief announced current CIA director Mike Pompeo was headed to the State Department.</p> <p> Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of<span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></strong></span></span> supporters gathered for the organization&#39;s lively Women&#39;s History Month reception in downtown Washington, Pence said, &quot;I hope you all noticed just this morning President Trump announced his plans to nominate the first woman to serve as ... director of the Central Intelligence Agency.&quot;</p> <p> The vice president offered a full-throated endorsement of the president&#39;s newly announced pick for the post, deputy CIA director Gina Haspel, seemingly going off script to note, &quot;I know Gina real well and I couldn&#39;t be more proud of her.&quot;</p> <p> &quot;I&#39;m real excited about it,&quot; Pence said. Haspel drew immediate opposition from Democrats on Tuesday for her implementation of the Bush-era enhanced interrogation technique program and alleged destruction of video footage relating to it.</p> <p> Throughout his remarks at the gathering of conservative faithfuls, Pence emphasized Trump&#39;s focus on women&#39;s causes, insisting attendees &quot;have a friend in the White House,&quot; and reaffirming the administration&#39;s belief that &quot;all issues are women&#39;s issues.&quot;</p> <p> &quot;Women in America are making history every single day,&quot; he insisted.</p> <p> Pence focused heavily on the economy&#39;s impact on women, noting that &quot;women are graduating from college and getting advanced degrees in record numbers,&quot; and arguing women are &quot;driving our economy through entrepreneurship and innovation as never before.&quot;</p> <p> &quot;The growing economy is great news for every American, but it&#39;s especially great news for women in the workforce in this country,&quot; he declared, adding that &quot;nearly 40 percent of entrepreneurs in America today are women.&quot;</p> <p> Throughout his remarks, the vice president listed off a number of Republican women serving in the administration and in Congress, from United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley to Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who introduced him at the event. Pence&#39;s mention of White House adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump drew especially loud applause from the crowd. He also made sure to laud historical figures including both Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony.</p> <p> On policy matters, Pence told the crowd the Trump administration is &quot;going to deliver paid family leave.&quot;</p> <p> Speaking as &quot;the proud dad of two extraordinarily strong and independent young women&quot; who were &quot;raised by a professional woman themselves,&quot; the vice president concluded on an optimistic note. &quot;I truly do believe that for all the contributions that America&#39;s women have made &mdash; a long and storied history in this country &mdash; the women of this country have only just begun,&quot; said Pence.</p> L. LukasWed, 14 Mar 2018 11:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWelcoming a Real Education Marketplace<p> Parents worrying about the costs of college are always looking for evidence that the&nbsp;<a href="">higher-education bubble</a>&nbsp;may finally burst. This&nbsp;<em><a href="">Wall Street Journal</a></em>&nbsp;article highlights trends that provide some hope toward that end. College tuition is still unlikely to drop meaningfully anytime soon, but it appears that the higher-education marketplace is becoming more competitive, and unproductive providers are beginning to suffer:</p> <blockquote> <p> According to an analysis of 20 years of freshman-enrollment data at 1,040 of the 1,052 schools listed in&nbsp;<a href=";ef_id=WRDX_AAAAHijrELx:20180220222010:s">The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranking</a>, U.S. not-for-profit colleges and universities are segregating into winners and losers &mdash; with winners growing and expanding and losers seeing the first signs of a death spiral.</p> <p> The Journal ranking, which includes most major public and private colleges with more than 1,000 students, focused on how well a college prepares students for life after graduation. The analysis found that the closer to the bottom of the ranking a school was, the more likely its enrollment was shrinking.</p> </blockquote> <p> Undoubtedly, some members of Congress and other government officials at the federal and state level will be under pressure to intercede on behalf of colleges that are struggling financially. They should resist. In fact, policymakers and the public should welcome the decline and even elimination of higher-education institutions that aren&rsquo;t performing. Creative destruction is never pretty &mdash; it&rsquo;s sad to see any business have to scale back or shut its doors &mdash; but this is the best way for customers to see an improvement in value.</p> <aside> <div style="margin-left:auto;"> <p> The shake out in the traditional college and university sector will accelerate as new education paradigms continue to come online and meet the needs of students, at all ages, who are looking for an education that will make them more employable. That often doesn&rsquo;t requiring investing $100,000 in a traditional four-year degree.&nbsp;<a href="">Computer-code schools</a>&nbsp;and boot camps are working directly with employers to train people for jobs that are currently unfilled. Other for-profit higher-learning institutions offer similar skills-based training using a variety of instructional methods that better serve nontraditional students.</p> </div> </aside> <p> This is great news to parents and to anyone concerned about how the workforce will fare with our rapidly changing economy. The marketplace has the potential to address these needs &mdash; if we let it work.</p> L. LukasMon, 5 Mar 2018 09:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPaid-Leave Proposal Isn’t a New Entitlement<p> Your editorial &ldquo;<a href="">A New GOP Entitlement</a>&rdquo; (Feb. 28) makes a persuasive case against the government expanding our already financially precarious entitlement programs. However, it mistakenly conflates reforming an existing entitlement program to better serve people with an expansion of the welfare state.</p> <div> <p> The approach being considered by Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee wouldn&rsquo;t entitle anyone to any new benefit. Rather it would give workers a new option: To access a portion of their Social Security benefits following the birth or an adoption of a child in exchange for delaying their retirement benefits to compensate for those costs. This would help those who currently lack paid leave and face financial hardship (and often end up turning to other forms of public assistance), while minimizing disruption to existing paid-leave laws and encouraging people to use leave benefits judiciously. Requiring this trade-off is central to the concept, and if stripped away from the proposal&mdash;as the editorial speculates it would be&mdash;it would lose all of its current supporters.</p> <p> Rather than being a new entitlement, this approach is the best way to prevent the creation of one, which has been the favored path being taken by many states and localities. This proposal would fill a legitimate need, while creating the welcome precedent that benefits can require trade-offs and be paid back by beneficiaries. Our safety net would become more modern and efficient&mdash;but not bigger. That&rsquo;s something conservatives can embrace.</p> <p> Carrie Lukas</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasMon, 5 Mar 2018 08:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLawmakers Agree On Paid Family Leave, But Not The Details • NPR L. LukasTue, 27 Feb 2018 20:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLawmakers Agree On Paid Family Leave, But Not The Details<p> Paid time off to care for a new child or a sick family member used to be a part of the Democratic Party platform. Now, Republicans are making paid family leave a legislative policy.</p> <p> &quot;Let&#39;s support working families by supporting paid family leave,&quot; President Trump urged Congress in his State of the Union address last month.</p> <p> Most workers are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act, which allows up to 12 weeks of leave per year to care for family members. But that leave is unpaid. And only&nbsp;<a href="">14 percent of workers</a>&nbsp;have paid leave through their employers.</p> <p> Both parties agree they want to see national legislation addressing the issue. It&#39;s no longer a question of if, they say, but a debate over what&#39;s covered and how to pay for it.</p> <p> Five states and the District of Columbia have paid family leave laws. One of those is Washington state, which adopted one of the country&#39;s most generous paid leave policies.</p> <p> Joe Fain, a Washington state senator, says the legislature and business community there acted after cities adopted measures to expand leave.</p> <p> &quot;There were a number of businesses that were looking at proposals out of the city of Seattle that really weren&#39;t affordable for businesses to be able to pay,&quot; he says. &quot;And I think there was a desire by some to say, &#39;Hey, let&#39;s get together, let&#39;s create a framework for a statewide plan.&#39; &quot;</p> <p> Fain, a Republican, took paid leave when his son was born, and became an advocate for the benefit. Just as city laws pushed Washington state to act, he says states like his are pressuring federal lawmakers.</p> <div id="res585793129" style="clear:both;"> <p data-carebot-scroll="" data-child-src="" data-embed-loaded="" data-pym-loader="" id="responsive-embed-paternity-leave-20180214"> Congressional Republicans back a couple of proposals. Most recently, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, working with White House adviser Ivanka Trump, says he&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="">drafting a plan</a>&nbsp;that would allow workers to draw on Social Security funds to cover leave for the birth or adoption of a child. In exchange, workers would delay collecting payments at retirement.</p> </div> <p> A House Republican bill, sponsored by Mimi Walters of California, would allow employers to offer a&nbsp;<a href="">minimum number of paid days</a>&nbsp;&mdash; usable for sick or family leave &mdash; in exchange for exemption from state leave laws.</p> <p> Ellen Bravo, executive director of&nbsp;<a href="">Family Values@Work</a>, a national coalition of advocates for paid family leave, says in the past decade voters have been embracing paid family leave across party lines.</p> <p> &quot;We&#39;re glad to see the conversation get sparked, but we&#39;re also committed to a policy that works, that isn&#39;t a step in the wrong direction,&quot; Bravo says.</p> <p> She says the Republican proposals offered so far fall short: They don&#39;t cover enough or require employers to offer paid leave.</p> <p> Instead, Bravo supports the&nbsp;<a href="">FAMILY Act</a>, a proposal backed by Democrats to increase payroll taxes to pay for leave for birth, adoption, and family and medical leave of up to 12 weeks.</p> <p> Marilyn Watkins of Seattle says policies need to cover a broad range of life events. Her mother died three years ago, &quot;and my sister and I were able to drop everything and spend the last weeks of her life caring for her,&quot; Watkins says. &quot;That was really important for our family.&quot;</p> <p> Watkins is policy director for the&nbsp;<a href="">Economic Opportunity Institute</a>&nbsp;and had paid leave, but she says she knows plenty of workers who don&#39;t.</p> <p> &quot;The only way to make these programs universal, the only way to be sure that the waitress or the retail clerk has access to these programs, that every child gets the benefit of having a parent at home, that every elder has loving family surrounding them in their last days &mdash; the only way to do that is through social insurance,&quot; Watkins says.</p> <p> But for some conservative groups and business interests, a universal federal paid leave requirement, or an increase in payroll taxes to pay for it, are unwelcome.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Mandates such as requiring employers to contribute toward paid family leave raise the cost of hiring, which in turn will hurt employment prospects, says Carrie Lukas, president of the&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, which advocates for free-market policy.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Last month, Lukas&#39; group suggested&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">tapping into Social Security early</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&mdash; inspiring the proposal from Sen. Rubio. She opposes creating a new entitlement program, and refutes critics of the proposal who say it would delay retirement, especially for low-wage women.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I don&#39;t think it&#39;s a tremendous hardship to delay receiving retirement benefits from [age] 67 to 67 1/2, if you decide to use a bunch of parental benefits,&quot; Lukas says.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Employers want to avoid a patchwork of state and local leave laws that make compliance difficult, says Lisa Horn, congressional affairs director for the&nbsp;<a href="">Society for Human Resource Management</a>.</p> <p> &quot;Sometimes they can find themselves trying to comply with one law, maybe the state law, and running afoul of the local law,&quot; she says.</p> L. LukasTue, 27 Feb 2018 13:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWith Trump's blessing, Congress opens the door to paid family leave<p> The goal to pass a national paid family leave law has turned a corner in the halls of Congress, with conservatives showing more openness to taking action after President Trump declared support for the benefit.</p> <p> Advocates who have long pushed for paid family leave say that the level of interest by lawmakers has been unprecedented, although how to go about it remains divisive.</p> <p> &quot;A number of Republicans are looking at this issue and are grappling at the best way to do it,&quot; said Vicki Shabo, vice president for workplace policies and strategies at the National Partnership for Women and Families. &quot;That&#39;s new and encouraging.&quot;</p> <p> Trump showed his support for a family leave policy during his State of the Union address in January, and Ivanka Trump, the president&#39;s daughter who works as one of his advisers, has taken on the cause by meeting with various senators. The White House is still deciding on which avenue it will take, though the president&#39;s budget recommended six weeks of paid family leave by allowing states to use unemployment insurance.</p> <p> &quot;We put our proposal in the budget as a flag in the ground to start a conversation, and we have spent a lot of time listening, learning and exploring a variety of issues,&quot; a White House official said.</p> <p> Under the 1993 Family Medical Leave Act, employers with 50 workers or more must allow 12 weeks of leave every year so they care for a new child or an ill parent, but in most cases, the leave isn&#39;t paid. The U.S. stands in contrast to other industrialized nations that have set a mandatory or subsidized leave policy.</p> <p> Conservative Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, and Joni Ernst of Iowa have discussed paid family leave with Ivanka Trump. They recently have been examining a proposal that would allow new parents to draw from their Social Security benefits early. <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The&nbsp;</span></span><a href="" target="_blank"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">proposal</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;from the conservative Independent Women&#39;s Forum would make the provision available to each spouse for up to 12 weeks, for a total of 24 weeks, for each child who has been born or adopted. In return, parents would defer their retirement benefits for the amount of time necessary to offset the cost of their parental benefits.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> The Independent Women&#39;s Forum is still studying the issue, but has hypothesized that the time delayed in retirement would be less than 12 weeks because individuals&rsquo; earnings typically increase substantially from their 20s to their early 60s, meaning the parental benefits would cost less than retirement benefits.</p> <p> A bill outlining the plan hasn&#39;t been drafted, but a document detailing how it would work has gained the attention of senators who want an option that would neither raise taxes nor impose a mandate on employers.</p> <p> &quot;We all understand it&#39;s something that&#39;s long overdue, and we just need to figure out a serious pathway forward,&quot; Ernst told the&nbsp;<em>Washington Examiner</em>. &quot;We understand it&#39;s tough.&quot;</p> <p> She has been looking at the Social Security proposal, saying that as a conservative, she believes in supporting ways to nurture families.</p> <p> &quot;It&#39;s time for Congress to get to work on this issue,&quot; Ernst said. &quot;It does impact so many people&#39;s lives.&quot;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women&#39;s Forum, notes that until now, her organization has been working to make a case against paid family leave, fearing many approaches would do more harm than good. Now, she said she is excited by the Social Security approach. The proposal would be aimed at people who do not currently receive paid leave.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;We don&#39;t want to do to our compensation system what Obamacare did to our health insurance system,&quot; Lukas said. &quot;Some people were hurting, but Obamacare changed the insurance contracts for every single American. We need to focus on those falling through the cracks.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Some states, including California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island offer paid family leave through payroll taxes paid for by employees, and New York joined their ranks this year.</p> <p> That policy is the option a large swath of Democratic members of Congress back at the national level, through a bill introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., called the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or Family Act. The bill would allow leave for circumstances other than a new child, including if a family member gets sick or if someone needs to take time off to undergo treatment for an illness. During that time, people would be guaranteed 66 percent of their regular earnings or up to $4,000 a month. The proposal is similar to short-term disability coverage some employers offer.</p> <p> Gillibrand has been critical of the conservative proposal, calling it &quot;shortsighted&quot; and saying that people do not receive enough Social Security benefits.</p> <p> &quot;We need to pass a paid leave program that is comprehensive, affordable, gender-neutral, and covers all of life&rsquo;s unexpected medical events,&quot; she said in a statement. &quot;This bill fails that test.&quot;</p> <p> Other critics say that low-income workers, larger families, older adults, and women would be hit the hardest by the Social Security proposal.</p> <p> &quot;It&#39;s encouraging to me that the dialogue has moved to a bipartisan dialogue, but the details matter tremendously,&quot; said Shabo, whose organization supports the Family Act. She pointed out that most people who use 12 weeks of leave tend to do it out of personal illness or needing to take care of a family member who is sick or disabled. She noted that was likely to continue as the baby boomers age and need more caregivers.</p> <p> &quot;There is no reason not to have both a strong Social Security system and a strong, comprehensive, inclusive, and sustainable paid family leave and medical program,&quot; she said, adding: &quot;I think it needs to be addressed in the right way, because we don&#39;t often revisit social or economic policy in this country.&quot;</p> <p> Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is still in the nascent stages of drafting a proposal, has looked at the Social Security idea and responded to some of the criticisms on Twitter, saying that his goal won&#39;t be a &quot;perfect plan&quot; but &quot;60 votes for law better than status quo.&quot;</p> <p> One of Rubio&#39;s aides noted that he was the first GOP presidential candidate to run on a paid family leave plan and lobbied to have the child tax credit increased in the GOP tax law.</p> <p> &quot;What&#39;s noteworthy here is that we&#39;re beginning to see Republicans rally behind an issue that is typically associated with the Left. The momentum is encouraging,&quot; the aide said.</p> <p> As with opinions in Congress, the concept is broadly supported by the public but diverges when it comes to the specifics. According to a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Pew Research Center survey</a>&nbsp;released roughly a year ago, roughly 90 percent of the public says people should be able to take leave from work for family or medical reasons. The public is split, however, on whether the federal government should require employers to pay their employees when they take leave. Forty-five percent say they would favor the government providing tax credits to employers that offer leave, and 39 percent favor workers putting aside contributions in a pretax account.</p> <p> The White House has acknowledged that coming to a consensus on the issue will be difficult.</p> <p> &quot;We know how hard it&rsquo;s going to be to get this done,&quot; a White House official said. &quot;If it were easy, it would be done already, but we are committed to getting it done. We are pleased by the robust conversation we have gotten around the issue.&quot;</p> L. LukasTue, 27 Feb 2018 11:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy a Republican Plan for Paid Leave Has Stirred Concern About Social Security<p style="margin-left:auto;"> Paid leave for new parents, long a Democratic cause, has become a Republican one, too. But policymakers don&rsquo;t agree on what a leave plan should look like. Now some Republicans have a new idea: Let people collect Social Security benefits early to pay for time off after they have a baby.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> Unlike some other proposals, this would require no new taxes.&nbsp;There&rsquo;s a catch, though: Parents would&nbsp;have their Social Security benefits delayed when they retire to offset the costs.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> Social Security has long been viewed as an untouchable part of the social safety net. By letting people tap it for parental leave, it would begin to feel more like an individual account &mdash; an idea conservatives have been trying to advance for&nbsp;decades.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The new parental leave plan comes from a right-leaning group called the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, and its president, Carrie Lukas, who said Social Security was based on an antiquated idea of working life. &ldquo;Women are a bigger part of the work force now, and they need support at different times of their lives rather than just starting at 67,&rdquo; she said.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">More broadly,&nbsp;Ms. Lukas&nbsp;</span></span><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">has said</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;that she hoped the proposal would &ldquo;encourage an important mental shift&rdquo; in the way people think about Social Security. If individuals view it as &ldquo;property,&rdquo; she reasons, it could lead to the embrace of personal accounts.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> That reasoning is why some experts view the proposal as a backdoor way to try to curb the scale and cost of Social Security. They also said it could put women in a more precarious position in retirement, adding yet another financial penalty to the list that women pay when they become mothers. Women have&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">lower earnings</a>, smaller Social Security&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">benefits</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">less financial security</a>&nbsp;in retirement because they&nbsp;spend a disproportionate amount of&nbsp;time away from work to raise children, research shows. Drawing down their Social Security benefits early could compound the problem.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> &ldquo;Here you have a situation where women live longer, but they tend to live both sicker and poorer because of the caregiving they do,&rdquo; said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women &amp; Families, a nonprofit that champions women&rsquo;s economic security. &ldquo;With this proposal, we would be asking them to borrow against the already inadequate support they receive from Social Security.&rdquo;</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, a supporter of the idea, said it would provide women with more financial security by encouraging them to stay in the work force after they have children. &ldquo;I think about those women that will leave the work force because that&rsquo;s their only option, and this provides them a way to take some time off, spend time devoted to their family and then return,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> The new proposal is one of several being considered by Ivanka Trump and others in the White House to expand paid leave beyond the 13 percent of workers who have&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">access to it</a>&nbsp;through their employers.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> They are studying if the Social Security Administration can be used to administer paid leave, according to people briefed on their discussions. It could allow people to collect payments early, as in the plan Ms. Ernst spoke of, or it could administer a new fund, perhaps financed by payroll taxes, an idea some Democrats have proposed. The administration&rsquo;s goal is to get bipartisan support on what has historically not been a Republican issue.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> Three Republican senators &mdash; Ms. Ernst, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah &mdash; announced this month that they supported the Social Security proposal, though they were still researching it and had not yet started writing a bill.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> In a&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">conference call</a>, the senators praised the fact that the plan would not force businesses to provide leave, would not start a new government program and would not raise taxes.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> But Mr. Lee also raised concerns about the underfunding of Social Security, and whether this would accelerate its decline. That is the most&nbsp;controversial aspect of the proposal, experts said, because it would apply more stress to a program that is already under pressure.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> Starting in 2034, Social Security will be able to pay only 75 percent of scheduled benefits, according to the latest&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">trustees report</a>, unless taxes are raised or benefits are&nbsp;trimmed.&nbsp;And while the chances of passing any legislation in an election year are dim,&nbsp;the proposal introduces a new strain of thinking about what Social Security can be used for. Another legislator, Representative Thomas Garrett, a Republican from Virginia, recently introduced a bill that would let individuals draw Social Security benefits early to pay off a portion of their student loans.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> Millions of retirees rely on modest checks from the program, which was created from a bill signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. Treating Social Security as something that can be borrowed against suggests that it can be treated as an individual account rather than a social insurance program. That could open the door to privatizing the accounts, some experts said, an idea that was floated during George W. Bush&rsquo;s administration.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> &ldquo;This is a significant philosophy shift that doesn&rsquo;t look at it like an insurance program where we are all in it together, but an individual asset you can tap to pay for your individual needs,&rdquo; said&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">Kathleen Romig</a>, senior policy analyst at the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and&nbsp;Policy Priorities.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> The proposal would also begin to reshape Social Security into something more akin to 401(k) accounts: Account holders can borrow against their 401(k), or even drain it in a financial emergency (albeit with a penalty), leaving them with less savings for retirement.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> Social Security, in contrast, cannot be touched and is often viewed as the last standing leg in the three-legged stool of retirement, when personal savings are not enough and pensions are increasingly rare.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> To be eligible for the proposed program, a new parent would need to have a minimum amount of earnings in the years before claiming the benefit, similar to&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">the formula</a>&nbsp;used to qualify for Social Security disability&nbsp;benefits,&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">according to the proposal</a>&nbsp;from the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> The size of the benefit would be calculated borrowing a formula from Social Security. A 26-year-old woman earning $31,000, for example, might receive roughly $1,175 a month in Social Security parental benefits, which replaces about 45 percent of her income, for up to 12 weeks.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> The cost would come later, in the form of a reduced retirement benefit. Exactly how the reduction would be calculated is not yet entirely clear, said&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">Andrew Biggs</a>, a former principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration who helped devise the proposal and who is now at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. But roughly speaking, he said, a 12-week leave would most likely translate to a benefit cut of 1.5 percent.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> The proposal says that a parent&rsquo;s Social Security check would be delayed, not cut, to offset the amount gained during the paid leave.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> Ms. Lukas said that delaying Social Security&nbsp;would not be a problem&nbsp;for most people: &ldquo;Sixty-seven is really late middle age, and many people are really happy to continue working.&rdquo;</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> Yet many workers do not have a choice. And while life expectancies have increased, better-paid and more educated people tend to live longer than those who earn less.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> As of now, the proposal covers new parents but not workers who are recovering from an illness or need to care for other family members. It also does not provide job security for people who take leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act does both those things, but the leave is unpaid, and only about half of workers qualify for it.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> The&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">Family Act</a>, a bill sponsored in the Senate by Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, would create a new fund within the Social Security Administration.&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">Employers and employees</a>&nbsp;would each contribute 0.2 percent of their wages for 12 weeks of paid parental, family or medical leave.</p> <p style="margin-left:auto;"> Republicans generally&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">object to</a>&nbsp;proposals that would raise taxes, but any paid leave plan would need to be paid for. The question now facing policymakers is whether to&nbsp;turn to Social Security payments, the last guaranteed safety net for many retirees, to do so.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasTue, 20 Feb 2018 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumEmployment Law This Week: Parental Leave Proposal<h3> &nbsp;</h3> <p> We invite you to view&nbsp;<em>Employment Law This Week</em>&nbsp;- a weekly rundown of the latest news in the field. We look at the latest trends, important court decisions, and new developments that could impact your work.</p> <p> This week&rsquo;s stories include ...</p> <h3> New Parental Leave Plan Draws from Social Security</h3> <p> Want paid parental leave? Tap into your Social Security. Senator Marco Rubio and other congressional Republicans are drafting a bill <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">based on a proposal from the conservative Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</span></strong></span></span>. Under IWF&rsquo;s plan, new parents could take 12 weeks of paid leave in exchange for a 6-week delay in retirement age for Social Security benefits. Proponents of the plan note that this would not cost employers or the federal government. Opponents see it as a major cut to Social Security and argue that it would disproportionately harm women.</p> <p> For more, click&nbsp;<a href="">here</a></p> L. LukasMon, 19 Feb 2018 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIvanka and Rubio Partner On Paid Family Leave Proposal<p> Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and first daughter Ivanka Trump have&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">teamed</a>&nbsp;up to develop a paid parental leave program in the United States.&nbsp; While the plan is in its infancy, Senator Rubio reportedly envisions a plan <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">similar to a&nbsp;</span></span><a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">proposal from the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">,</span></span></strong></span> calling for a parental leave program funded by new parents&rsquo; future Social Security benefits.&nbsp; Under that proposal, parents could receive up to 12 weeks of benefits to take paid leave at any time in the first year of their new child&rsquo;s life in exchange for what the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum hopes would be six weeks of Social Security benefits in the future.</p> <p> The Rubio-Ivanka proposal is not without&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">criticism</a>. &nbsp;Some conservative commentators say the plan would unfairly burden Social Security&rsquo;s limited resources.&nbsp; Further, because the Rubio-Ivanka plan would be available regardless of the size of a new parent&rsquo;s employer, the leave would not be protected under the FMLA if the parent&rsquo;s employer does not have 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius.&nbsp; Liberal critics believe that the proposal will negatively affect women, who generally receive less Social Security benefits than men for reasons of gender-related pay inequity.</p> <p> While paid family leave is a concept with&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">bipartisan support</a>, proponents disagree about how to fund such a program.&nbsp; The president&rsquo;s recent&nbsp;<a href="">budget plan</a>, which calls for six weeks of family leave paid for by unemployment insurance, appears to be at odds with the Ivanka-Rubio idea.&nbsp;&nbsp; The Democrat-sponsored&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act</a>&nbsp;(the FAMILY Act) would provide up to 12 weeks of income through a payroll tax on employers and employees.&nbsp; Employers should continue to monitor discussions and developments in this rapidly changing area.</p> L. LukasFri, 16 Feb 2018 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGOP Senators Mull Proposal to Let US Workers Draw Paid Parental Leave from Social Security <p> Senate Republicans including&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople">Mike Lee</span>&nbsp;(Utah),&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople">Marco Rubio</span>&nbsp;(Florida), and&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople">Joni Ernst</span>&nbsp;(Iowa) are talking up a new proposal from the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, a conservative economic policy shop, to establish a mechanism for US parents to access paid leave without creating additional costs for their employers by deferring their Social Security benefits in retirement,&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener nofollow" target="_blank"><em>the Hill</em>&nbsp;reports</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">According to IWF&rsquo;s six-page proposal, parents could take up to 12 weeks and receive on average 45 percent of their pay in a Social Security parental benefit that&rsquo;s calculated using the same formula as Social Security disability benefits. The IWF estimates the average wage worker would receive $1,175 per month.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="background-color:#ffffff;">Lee said lawmakers are trying to figure out how to structure benefits so they are delivered to families when they need them, how the federal law should interact with state paid leave laws and how to keep the law from hastening the Social Security Trust Fund&rsquo;s 2034 insolvency date.</span></span></p> </blockquote> <p> Several House Democrats released <span style="font-size:12px;">sta</span>tements criticizing the proposal, calling it &ldquo;woefully insufficient&rdquo; and arguing that working Americans should not have to forgo Social Security benefits to spend time with their newborn children. Democratic Rep.&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople">Rosa DeLauro also insisted that &ldquo;any paid leave plan that reflects the needs of working people and families must address the need to deal with a personal or family member&rsquo;s serious illness.&rdquo;</span></p> <p> The US is the only industrialized nation and one of only three countries in the world not to mandate paid time off for new parents, though the Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees mothers the right to unpaid leave during pregnancy and after childbirth. Many US employers,&nbsp;<a href="">including the 20 largest private employers</a>, offer some amount of paid parental leave, but millions of Americans lack access to this benefit.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The IWF plan is the latest of several policy proposals to fix the problem of unequal access to paid parental leave and other forms of paid time off in the US while assuaging conservative anxieties about increasing costs to employers or the federal government.</span></strong></span></span> Last June,&nbsp;<a href="">the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal Brookings Institution issued a bipartisan proposal</a>&nbsp;for a national parental leave policy that would entitle both mothers and fathers to eight weeks&rsquo; leave paid at 70 percent of their wages for eight weeks after the birth or adoption of a child, with guaranteed job protection, paid for by a payroll tax on employees and cuts in other areas of federal spending.</p> <p> Other federal policy initiatives have sought to protect employers from the proliferation of laws and regulations at the state and local level. Last April,&nbsp;<a href="">the HR Policy Association proposed a law that would protect multi-state employers</a>&nbsp;from these local mandates as long as their paid family and medical leave offerings meet a minimum federal standard, but without a blanket mandate that businesses meet that standard. With regard to paid leave in general,&nbsp;<a href="">House Republicans put forward a bill in November</a>, supported by SHRM and other major business groups, that would encourage companies provide two to three weeks of paid time off by exempting them from stricter state and local mandates as long as they comply with the federal policy.</p> L. LukasMon, 12 Feb 2018 13:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRepublicans weigh Social Security paid leave plan<p> A few Senate Republicans are weighing a voluntary paid leave proposal that would allow parents to collect Social Security benefits early if they agree to defer their retirement benefits later in life to offset the costs.</p> <p> GOP Sens.&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="188274" href="">Mike Lee</a></span>&nbsp;(Utah),&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="188218" href="">Marco Rubio</a></span>&nbsp;(Fla.) and&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="347869" href="">Joni Ernst</a></span>&nbsp;(Iowa) expressed support for the idea, provided by the conservative Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum (IWF), calling it &ldquo;novel&rdquo; and &ldquo;creative.&rdquo; But the lawmakers noted that a formal piece of legislation still needs to be crafted.</p> <p> &ldquo;As you might imagine, turning good ideas into good legislation takes time,&rdquo; Lee said in a call with reporters Wednesday. &ldquo;Getting this right means asking the right questions and then figuring out how to answer them.&rdquo;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">According to IWF&rsquo;s six-page proposal, parents could take up to 12 weeks and receive on average 45 percent of their pay in a Social Security parental benefit that&rsquo;s calculated using the same formula as Social Security disability benefits.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The IWF estimates the average wage worker would receive $1,175 per month.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Lee said lawmakers are trying to figure out how to structure benefits so they are delivered to families when they need them, how the federal law should interact with state paid leave laws and how to keep the law from hastening the Social Security Trust Fund&#39;s 2034 insolvency date.</p> <p> In a statement, read by his legislative director, Rubio said a paid parental leave proposal that increases family flexibility in a fiscally responsible way like the IWF&rsquo;s proposal &ldquo;would not only represent conservatism meeting the challenges of the 21st century, it would remain true to Social Security&#39;s fundamental principle of providing assistance to dependents in our care.&rdquo;</p> <p> Paid family leave proposals have been swirling on Capitol Hill for years, but the U.S. remains the only industrialized nation without a federal paid leave policy.</p> <p> Democratic Reps.&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="186530" href="">Rosa DeLauro</a></span>&nbsp;(Conn.) and&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="188072" href="">Bobby Scott</a></span>&nbsp;(Va.) were quick the criticize the proposal.</p> <p> In statements, DeLauro called the plan &ldquo;woefully insufficient,&rdquo; while Scott expressed fears about shortchanging Social Security benefits for seniors.</p> <p> &ldquo;Workers should not have to permanently cut their Social Security retirement benefits in order to spend time with a newborn child, and any paid leave plan that reflects the needs of working people and families must address the need to deal with a personal or family member&rsquo;s serious illness,&rdquo; DeLauro said.</p> <p> &ldquo;Legislation that reflects the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum plan to raid Social Security to pay for parental leave benefits would jeopardize workers&rsquo; future retirement security and would hurt women, low-wage workers and workers of color the most,&rdquo; she added.</p> <p> DeLauro has introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, a companion bill to Sen.&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="188246" href="">Kirsten Gillibrand</a></span>&rsquo;s (D-N.Y.) legislation in the Senate. The bill calls for a 0.2 percent employee payroll tax and a 0.2 percent employer tax to fund 12 weeks of paid leave during&nbsp;which workers would earn 66 percent of their monthly wages.</p> <p> According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, which supports this proposal, the average worker would pay less than $1.50 per week in new taxes.</p> L. LukasThu, 8 Feb 2018 14:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSenators are split on whether America deserves the wealthy world’s stingiest maternity leave policy, or just the fourth-stingiest<p> Some Senate Republicans,&nbsp;<a href="">Marco Rubio chief among them</a>, are warming up to an&nbsp;innovative paid maternity leave proposal<span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">first put forth by the Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, a conservative group.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">While legislation has yet to be ironed out,&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">the plan as outlined by the IWF</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;would &ldquo;offer new parents the opportunity to collect early Social Security benefits after the arrival of their child in exchange for their agreeing to defer the collection of their Social Security retirement benefits.&rdquo;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The IWF estimates the plan would&nbsp;replace 45 percent of the average parent&#39;s income for a period of up to 12 weeks. In exchange, that parent&nbsp;would have to defer retirement by roughly six weeks to offset the cost.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The IWF proposal is different from the approach favored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who has&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">proposed an across-the-board 0.4 percent payroll tax</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;that would fund 12 weeks of paid family leave at an income replacement rate of 66 percent.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> While both plans are an improvement over&nbsp;current law, which mandates no paid maternity leave, either one would still leave the United States a stingy outlier among the world&#39;s wealthy nations when it comes to paid family leave.</p> <p> The other wealthy nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, for instance, mandate leave durations between 12 and 166 weeks, and payment rates between 26 and 100 percent of a mother&#39;s pre-leave income.</p> <p> To make complete country-level comparisons and see how the Senate proposals would fit in, we can&nbsp;<a href="">express maternity leave policies in terms of full-income equivalents, in weeks</a>. If a country mandates 10 weeks of leave at 50 percent income replacement, for instance, that would work out to a full-income equivalent of five weeks.</p> <p> The&nbsp;<a href="">international standard established by the International Labor Organization</a>&nbsp;recommends 14 weeks of maternity leave with an income replacement rate of at least 66 percent, which works out to a full-income equivalent of 9.2 weeks. Nearly all countries in the OECD offer considerably more than that: Eastern European countries offer the equivalent of a year or more at full pay, while the Nordic democracies offer six months or more.</p> <p> Most other nations offer at least 12 weeks of full-income equivalent leave. Gillibrand&#39;s proposal works out to eight weeks of full-income equivalent leave, still below the 9.2 week threshold but better than the policies in place in Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia. The IWF proposal works out to 5.4 weeks, which would still place the United States at the very bottom of the list.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">IWF President Carrie Lukas points out that&nbsp;under the IWF plan, maternity leave pay would be&nbsp;calculated using the existing Social Security disability benefit formula, which means that lower-income mothers would receive a greater rate of income replacement than high income ones. People &ldquo;who need more support and who are less likely to be able to save on their own would have more of their income replaced,&rdquo; she said via email.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Both approaches&nbsp;represent an improvement over current law, which doesn&#39;t provide anything. And liberals and conservatives alike appear to agree in principle on the need for paid leave and the benefits it&nbsp;would bring:&nbsp;<a href="">greater labor force participation among women</a>, improved&nbsp;<a href="">child</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="">maternal</a>&nbsp;well-being, and&nbsp;<a href=";docLanguage=En">greater paternal involvement in child-rearing</a>.</p> <p> The sticking point is over how to pay for it. <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Conservatives like the IWF proposal&nbsp;because it&#39;s self-funding and doesn&#39;t involve any new taxes or expansions of the federal government.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> But&nbsp;<a href="">critics point out</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;the Republican proposal essentially penalizes larger families: the more children you have, the more time you have to take off, the longer you end up deferring retirement.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The IWF&#39;s Lukas, who has five children herself, rejects the notion that this would be unfair. &ldquo;People with big families face all kinds of extra costs for having extra kids,&rdquo; she said via email. &ldquo;Keep in mind that this would be optional: Anyone who thinks that the trade-off is too much &mdash; if they don&#39;t want to postpone retirement benefits by extra months &mdash; then they don&#39;t have to.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Liberals are also&nbsp;wary of the wisdom of turning the Social Security Trust Fund into a piggy bank.</p> <p> &ldquo;Any plan that robs the Social Security trust fund will hurt low-income workers, seniors,&nbsp;and women the most,&rdquo; said Gillibrand in a statement released Wednesday. &ldquo;No worker should have to borrow against their own Social Security benefits, which are already too low, to get paid family leave when they need it to take care of a new baby, a sick family member, or themselves.&rdquo;</p> L. LukasWed, 7 Feb 2018 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumA fiscally responsible paid leave policy even Paul Ryan could love<p> House Speaker&nbsp;<a href="">Paul Ryan</a>&nbsp;(R-Wis.) has been a consistent advocate for entitlement reform and limiting the size and scope of government. It&#39;s no wonder, then, that he didn&#39;t appear enthused when&nbsp;<a href="">President Trump</a>mentioned a federal paid leave policy during the State of the Union.</p> <p> Fiscal hawks like Ryan undoubtedly assume that a federal paid leave policy would grow government, either by creating a new entitlement program that would require new tax revenue or requiring employers to provide workers with paid family leave benefits. Given that Congress&#39;s focus has been on rolling back regulations, lowering taxes, and spurring job creation, it&#39;s understandable they don&#39;t want to start moving in the opposite direction.</p> <p> But there&#39;s good news: There is a way to expand access to paid leave without growing government or burdening business. As explained in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">this paper written by Kristin Shapiro and published by Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</a>, Congress could reform the Social Security program to allow workers to take parental leave benefits following the birth or adoption of a child, in exchange for delaying their Social Security retirement benefits in the future.</p> <p> The benefits of this approach are numerous: It&#39;s completely voluntary and works within the framework of existing programs and laws. It wouldn&#39;t discourage companies from providing paid leave benefits on their own or disrupt the situation of the millions of workers who are happy with their current benefit packages. People who don&#39;t want or need Social Security parental leave benefits would be unaffected by this reform. &nbsp;</p> <p> Yes, this reform would bring the government into yet another area of life. However, it would be an improvement and rationalization of our existing safety net. Some people do face real hardship after giving birth when they are unable to work and don&#39;t have paid time off. In fact,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">nearly half</a>&nbsp;of low-income women who lack access to paid leave end up using public assistance after giving birth.</p> <p> It is more sensible and fiscally prudent to give people access to benefits when they need them most, rather than forcing them to wait until an arbitrary future retirement date set by the government. Working an extra few months at 67 is unlikely to be a hardship for most Americans, while working the month or two following the birth of a child can be. People should have the freedom to choose when they need their benefit more.</p> <p> Speaker Ryan has always been concerned about the solvency of Social Security, and for good reason. He will note that &mdash; while this program wouldn&#39;t worsen Social Security&#39;s long-term financial imbalance &mdash; it won&#39;t solve its problems either, which ought to be a top priority for the country. &nbsp;</p> <p> Yet Speaker Ryan also knows better than anyone how politically difficult entitlement reform is. This reform could help by encouraging needed conversations about our entitlement programs and the trade-offs that we face. People may begin to recognize that it&rsquo;s strange that all workers are required to pay 12 percent of their income while working, when they are younger and tend to have lower incomes and higher other expenses, then receive a massive government payout beginning at age 66, when many are perfectly capable of working, and better off financially than ever before. Adjustments to the retirement age might not seem so unthinkable when put in the context of these trade-offs.</p> <p> Speaker Ryan is also a realist and should recognize that this is an issue that Republicans cannot avoid. Currently six states have mandatory paid leave laws. Twenty-three additional states are considering paid leave proposals. As more pass, national businesses will increasingly push for federal relief from this patchwork of policies.</p> <p> Last year, the American Enterprise Institute, along with the Brookings Institution, published a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;calling for an entirely new entitlement program with a new payroll tax. Paid leave programs are overwhelmingly popular with the public &mdash; including with Republicans. Doing nothing on the federal level on paid leave may be an option for now, but it&rsquo;s unlikely to succeed for long.</p> <p> Fiscal conservatives should consider what the options are. None is perfect, and all involve trade-offs. The Social Security paid leave approach seems the best, most realistic option for targeting help at people who really need it, while positively reshaping how the public thinks about government and public safety nets creating the potential for future positive reforms. That&#39;s something fiscal conservatives could applaud.</p> L. LukasWed, 7 Feb 2018 07:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum