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 RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Why 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="https://thefederalist.com/2018/02/02/running-parent-leave-social-security-smartest-live-option/" 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="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/upshot/even-in-family-friendly-scandinavia-mothers-are-paid-less.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">lower earnings</a>, smaller Social Security&nbsp;<a href="http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/how-much-does-motherhood-cost-women-in-social-security-benefits/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">benefits</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/business/retirement/money-worries-for-retired-women.html" 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="https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/benefits/2014/ownership/civilian/table32a.htm" 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="http://pdf.iwf.org/180207_PressCall_PaidLeave.pdf" 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="https://www.ssa.gov/oact/trsum/" 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="https://www.cbpp.org/kathleen-romig" 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="https://www.ssa.gov/planners/credits.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="">the formula</a>&nbsp;used to qualify for Social Security disability&nbsp;benefits,&nbsp;<a href="http://iwf.org/publications/2805496/Policy-Focus:-A-Budget-Neutral-Approach-to-Parental-Leave" 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="http://www.aei.org/scholar/andrew-g-biggs/" 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="https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/337" 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="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/reports/2013/12/12/81037/the-family-act-facts-and-frequently-asked-questions/" 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="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/06/upshot/what-a-bipartisan-paid-leave-plan-might-look-like.html" 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> http://iwf.org/media/2805904/Carrie 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="https://www.natlawreview.com/article/ivanka-and-rubio-partner-paid-family-leave-proposal">here</a></p> http://iwf.org/media/2805871/Carrie 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="https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/04/rubio-ivanka-trump-family-leave-385050" 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="http://iwf.org/publications/2805496/Policy-Focus:-A-Budget-Neutral-Approach-to-Parental-Leave" 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="http://www.businessinsider.com/ivanka-trump-marco-rubio-paid-family-leave-plan-2018-2" 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="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/23/key-takeaways-on-americans-views-of-and-experiences-with-family-and-medical-leave/" 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="https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/budget-fy2019.pdf">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="https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/337/text" 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> http://iwf.org/media/2805870/Carrie 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="http://thehill.com/regulation/labor/372933-republicans-weigh-social-security-paid-leave-plan" 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="https://www.cebglobal.com/talentdaily/the-20-largest-us-employers-now-all-offer-paid-parental-leave/">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="https://www.cebglobal.com/talentdaily/think-tanks-release-bipartisan-proposal-for-us-family-leave-policy/">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="https://www.cebglobal.com/talentdaily/business-group-urges-congress-to-legislate-paid-family-leave-standard/">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="https://www.cebglobal.com/talentdaily/business-backed-bill-proposes-national-paid-time-off-policy-for-us/">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> http://iwf.org/media/2805814/Carrie 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="http://thehill.com/people/mike-lee">Mike Lee</a></span>&nbsp;(Utah),&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="188218" href="http://thehill.com/people/marco-rubio">Marco Rubio</a></span>&nbsp;(Fla.) and&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="347869" href="http://thehill.com/people/joni-ernst">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="http://thehill.com/people/rosa-delauro">Rosa DeLauro</a></span>&nbsp;(Conn.) and&nbsp;<span data-behavior="rolloverpeople"><a data-nid="188072" href="http://thehill.com/people/bobby-scott">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="http://thehill.com/people/kirsten-gillibrand">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> http://iwf.org/media/2805794/Carrie 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="https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/04/rubio-ivanka-trump-family-leave-385050">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="http://pdf.iwf.org/budget-neutral_approach_parental_leave_PF18.pdf"><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="http://pdf.iwf.org/budget-neutral_approach_parental_leave_PF18.pdf"><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="http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/work-family/paid-leave/family-act-fact-sheet.pdf"><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="https://www.oecd.org/els/soc/PF2_1_Parental_leave_systems.pdf">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="http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_242617.pdf">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="http://www.nber.org/papers/w19741.pdf">greater labor force participation among women</a>, improved&nbsp;<a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/679627">child</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.icmpe.org/test1/docs/15-061_text.pdf">maternal</a>&nbsp;well-being, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=DELSA/ELSA/WD/SEM(2012)11&amp;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="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-paid-family-leave-plan-would-punish-those-who-choose-to-have-kids/2018/02/07/dc612c0c-0b85-11e8-95a5-c396801049ef_story.html?utm_term=.972d5b14a25c">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> http://iwf.org/media/2805786/Carrie 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="http://thehill.com/people/paul-ryan">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="http://thehill.com/people/donald-trump">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="http://www.iwf.org/publications/2805496/Policy-Focus:-A-Budget-Neutral-Approach-to-Parental-Leave" 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="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/03/23/an-inside-look-at-family-and-medical-leave-in-america-the-experiences-of-those-who-took-leave-and-those-who-needed-or-wanted-to-but-couldnt/" 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="http://www.aei.org/events/the-aei-brookings-project-on-paid-family-leave-report-release-and-discussion/" 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> http://iwf.org/news/2805774/Carrie L. LukasWed, 7 Feb 2018 07:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy Running Parent Leave Through Social Security Is The Smartest Live Option<p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Some conservative and libertarian writers have expressed their concerns about a proposal to allow people to access a share of their Social Security benefits after the birth or adoption of a child, in return for delaying their retirement benefits to fully offset those costs.</p> <p> Notably, this paid leave proposal would be structured to be at least revenue-neutral for Social Security, or it could even be designed to improve Social Security&rsquo;s financial conditions by requiring people to give up retirement benefits of greater value than the parental leave benefits they use. The main criticisms from the Right are that the proposal would expand our nanny state, undermine needed reforms to the already financially insolvent Social Security system, and generally be an inappropriate and illegitimate expansion of the federal government</p> <p> These are important and legitimate concerns. Yet there are reasons for optimism that this approach would work in the opposite direction, encouraging the consolidation and more efficient use of the social safety net programs that exist, rather than leading to their expansion.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="631" scrolling="no" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Findependentwomensforum%2Fvideos%2F10156226621664175%2F&amp;show_text=1&amp;width=476" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="476"></iframe>Americans Aren&rsquo;t Going to Give Up the Welfare State</p> <p> When considering this proposal, it&rsquo;s important to consider some political realities. In The Federalist,&nbsp;<a href="http://thefederalist.com/author/rtracinski/">Robert Tracinski</a>&nbsp;describes a potential beneficiary of this benefit, noting &ldquo;Assuming there is a father who is able and willing to help support her,&rdquo; a husband should be involved.&rdquo; Yet, like it or not, about&nbsp;<a href="https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/75_Births_to_Unmarried_Women.pdf">40 percent</a>&nbsp;of U.S. births occur out of wedlock. Certainly we ought to consider how to reverse this trend and increase the share of children born with the support of two married parents, but we also need to recognize the present circumstances.</p> <p> Moreover, while conservatives and libertarians ought to always be considering how we can restore government to its proper limits, improving the status quo requires recognizing that&mdash;for the foreseeable future at least&mdash;there will be a federal safety net to help people in need. Of course, overwhelmingly conservatives do recognize that, and often design reform proposals mean to reduce economic distortions created by welfare to minimize the need for its use and to better allow civil society and the free market to thrive, rather than solely push for their elimination, which is a nonstarter in Congress.</p> <p> This is certainly true for Social Security. Everyone recognizes that Social Security is a pay-as-you-go transfer system, and no one has an actual legal &ldquo;right&rdquo; to money he or she paid in. Congress could at any time pass a law to abolish Social Security, and payments would simply stop.</p> <p> Yet we also all know that&rsquo;s not going to happen. Congress represents Americans, and they won&rsquo;t accept eliminating a program they&rsquo;ve paid into throughout their working lives, expecting retirement benefits. When Social Security reform is discussed, the starting point is always on preserving benefits for those on or near retirement. Proposed reductions to future benefits are typically phased in and designed to more greatly affect those with higher incomes, while preserving Social Security&rsquo;s fundamental purpose of preventing poverty in old age. In short, Americans are not going to accept the wholesale elimination of Social Security&mdash;at least not any time soon.</p> <p> The Alternative for a Woman on the Margins Is Welfare</p> <p> The Social Security parental leave proposal should be considered in this context. A single working woman who lacks paid leave and gives birth has several options. Ideally, she will have saved money so she can afford to take time off to recover and care for her baby before resuming work. Yet she also knows that she could receive unemployment insurance and other forms of public assistance, depending on her state of residency. Indeed,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/03/23/an-inside-look-at-family-and-medical-leave-in-america-the-experiences-of-those-who-took-leave-and-those-who-needed-or-wanted-to-but-couldnt/"><em>nearly half</em></a>&nbsp;of low-income women who lack access to paid leave resort to public assistance after giving birth.</p> <p> By contrast, paid leave could encourage those women to stay employed, return to work, and not use other forms of public assistance. Importantly, unlike other public assistance programs, this Social Security parental leave program isn&rsquo;t a &ldquo;freebie&rdquo; or a handout. People would know that accessing benefits now would mean they will have to wait for benefits later.</p> <p> The public will also be aware of this social safety net approach and consider how it could apply in other instances. People support public assistance generally because they want a safety net to prevent hardship. But they also don&rsquo;t want public assistance to be exploited and used as a long-term crutch. This approach could encourage an important mental shift with lasting implications for government&rsquo;s safety nets more broadly.</p> <p> This could include how Americans think about Social Security, which has long been considered the untouchable third rail of politics. Americans may begin to recognize that it&rsquo;s rather strange that we require all workers to pay 12 percent of their income throughout their working lives, when they tend to have lower incomes and higher other expenses, then receive a massive government payout beginning at age 66, when many Americans are perfectly capable of and happy to continue working, and tend to be better off financially than ever before.</p> <p> Adjustments to the retirement age might not seem so unthinkable when put in the context of these trade-offs, nor would more ambitious proposals to give workers more control over how their retirement funds are invested or used. Indeed, encouraging people to think about Social Security&rsquo;s assets as if those benefits are their property for use now or at retirement could even encourage people to want to move more in that direction and transform the current pay-as-you-go system into one that pre-funds future benefits and with assets that belong to individuals</p> <p> That may sound farfetched. But it&rsquo;s no more farfetched than the idea that, after decades of promoting the idea of partial privatization, at long last, public opinion will undergo a sea change to embrace personal accounts or other substantial Social Security reforms.</p> <p> The Ratchet Is Already Cranking</p> <p> One last reality check: Currently six states have mandatory paid leave laws. Twenty-three additional states are considering paid leave proposals. As more of these pass, national businesses will increasingly push the federal government for relief from this patchwork of policies.</p> <p> Last year, the American Enterprise Institute, along with the Brookings Institution, published a report 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> Conservatives and libertarians should carefully consider what the options are on this issue. No option is perfect, and all involve trade-offs. Those supporting the Social Security paid leave approach do so with the belief that this could be our best, most realistic option and could have long-term advantages in reshaping how the public thinks about government and public safety nets. If there are better alternatives that have a change of succeeding, we&rsquo;d love to hear them.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2805730/Carrie L. LukasFri, 2 Feb 2018 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRationalize the safety net with this simple paid family leave reform<p> <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/despite-what-trump-said-in-the-state-of-the-union-family-leave-paid-for-by-government-is-a-terrible-idea/article/2647668" target="_blank">Daniel Payne</a>&nbsp;is concerned that allowing people to access a share of their Social Security benefits after the birth or adoption of a child, in return for delaying their retirement benefits to fully offset those costs, would open the door to an expansion of the federal welfare state.</p> <p> That&#39;s a legitimate consideration. Yet there is also reason for optimism that the approach outlined in this&nbsp;<a href="http://iwf.org/publications/2805496/Policy-Focus:-A-Budget-Neutral-Approach-to-Parental-Leave" target="_blank">Independent Women&#39;s Forum policy brief</a>&nbsp;could encourage people to consider how to more efficiently and effectively use the government programs that we already have, rather than creating or expanding new ones.</p> <p> The principle behind the Social Security parental-leave approach is that people ought to have the option of accessing Social Security benefits during their working lives, rather than being stuck with the one-size-fits-all payment schedule that begins at the government-designated retirement age of 67. Just as Social Security allows both early and deferred retirement benefits, which are compensated for with an adjustment in the size of benefits, policymakers should recognize that some people have a far greater need for support at other times &mdash; such as after giving birth.</p> <p> This would help people (particularly cash-strapped millennials) who really need it, prevent them from taking other forms of public assistance, but also require that people make a trade-off to receive this support, encouraging a sense of responsibility. This approach could slow the drive at the state and local level to create paid leave entitlement programs and encourage people to recognize that we don&#39;t need more public assistance programs, but rather to use the ones we have more wisely. Instead of growing the welfare state, this could be a step toward consolidating and rationalizing our social safety net.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is president of Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum. The new, budget-neutral<a href="http://iwf.org/publications/2805496/Policy-Focus:-A-Budget-Neutral-Approach-to-Parental-Leave" target="_blank">Social Security Paid Leave policy</a>&nbsp;is authored by Kristin Shapiro in conjunction with IWF.</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2805723/Carrie L. LukasThu, 1 Feb 2018 11:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum#MeToo movement means changes for Valentine's Day romance<p> NEW YORK (Reuters) - The #MeToo movement is putting a chill on romance this Valentine&rsquo;s Day, and a deep freeze on what for years has been a route to marriage: the office love affair, according to relationship experts.</p> <p> The number of Americans admitting to being in an office romance has fallen, and some feminist activists call that change as well as zero tolerance for unacceptable behavior in the workplace long overdue. The movement is sparking the kind of direct communication essential for love, they say.</p> <p> &ldquo;#MeToo will make relationships between men and women more romantic,&rdquo; said women&rsquo;s rights activist Jaclyn Friedman.</p> <p> &ldquo;If we all become more thoughtful about the care with which we treat our partners, it can only help build trust and intimacy,&rdquo; said Friedman, a writer whose books include &ldquo;Yes Means Yes!&rdquo;</p> <p> The #MeToo movement has exposed men accused of sexual assault and harassment in fields including entertainment, politics and business. Dozens of prominent men have quit or been fired from high-profile posts, and police have opened investigations into some accusations of sex assault.</p> <p> The movement is changing dating dynamics in important ways, said Liz Wolfe, managing editor of Young Voices, which distributes opinion pieces written by people younger than 30.</p> <p> &ldquo;One good aspect of the #MeToo movement might be an increased emphasis on communication when it comes to sex and romance,&rdquo; Wolfe said.</p> <p> #MeToo has dampened one traditional route to dating: Office romances. The percentage of U.S. workers saying they were in one fell to a 10-year-low of 36 percent, according to a Nov. 28-Dec. 20 online Harris Poll of 809 private sector employees sponsored by recruitment site CareerBuilder.</p> <p> That was down from 41 percent a year earlier, a statistically significant drop in a poll with a 3.45 percent margin of error.</p> <p> &ldquo;The #MeToo movement is splashing cold water on whatever embers of romance are struggling to survive between men and women,&rdquo; said Dr. Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist and author of &ldquo;Bad Boys: Why We Love Them.&rdquo;</p> <p> Co-workers who start dating stand a good chance of staying together: 31 percent of office romantic relationships lead to marriage, the survey showed.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Given the allegations of sexual assault by prominent men, workers would be wise to proceed slowly on workplace flirtations and ensure that their approaches are open and consented to, said Carrie Lukas, author of &ldquo;The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism.&rdquo;</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;">&ldquo;Safe romantic gestures - candy, cards, compliments and flowers - might be construed as aggressive and harassment,&rdquo; said Lukas.</span></strong></span></span></p> http://iwf.org/media/2805712/Carrie L. LukasThu, 1 Feb 2018 09:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumState of Our Union event calls for women to unite against Trump agenda<p> The resistance to President Donald Trump made its objections loud and clear on the night of his first State of the Union address.</p> <p> A few blocks away, at the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.press.org/">National Press Club</a>, activists gathered for another form of protest&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;to hold an alternative State of the Union to make a statement about gender inequality in America and the power women hold when they stand together collectively.</p> <p> Not all women supported the counter protest of the state of the union.&nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum President Carrie Lukas said in a statement that women have plenty to applaud when it comes to Trump&#39;s agenda and his record. She lauded the low unemployment rate among women, the booming stock market,&nbsp;tax reform and Trump&#39;s support for paid family leave.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a shame that in an attempt to undermine President Trump&rsquo;s first-year accomplishments and send a distorted message to women everywhere, Democratic women used the occasion to make a partisan, political statement,&quot; she said.&nbsp;&quot;That&rsquo;s not what most American women are looking for in a State of the Union address. They wanted to hear about the progress we are making and plans for the future.&nbsp;That&rsquo;s what President Trump delivered.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> http://iwf.org/media/2805706/Carrie L. LukasTue, 30 Jan 2018 15:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Good News American Women Will Hear During State of the Union<p> Female Democratic Members are taking a page from the Golden Globes&nbsp;long history of protest&nbsp;fashion and wearing black to the State of the Union, in what they claim is an effort to raise awareness of the #MeToo movement and the continued problem of sexual harassment.&nbsp; Presumably it&#39;s no accident that they will also send a visual message during the President&#39;s address, suggesting that women are mourning the state of the union.</p> <p> That may be true for some steeped in partisan politics, but most American women likely have a different take.</p> <p> According to a&nbsp;<a href="https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2511" target="_blank">Quinnipiac University poll</a>&nbsp;released this month, 56 percent of American women are optimistic about the state of the economy. That&#39;s up from&nbsp;<a href="https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2415" target="_blank">45 percent</a>a year ago. Unemployment for women is just&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf" target="_blank">3.7 percent</a>, which is the lowest it&rsquo;s been since January 2001.&nbsp; Wages have finally started to tick up, rising by more than&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm" target="_blank">2.5 percent</a>&nbsp;over the last year.&nbsp;These trends should continue as tax reform returns trillions of dollars to working Americans and lightens the burden on American businesses, giving them the opportunity to expand and reinvest in the new year.</p> <p> <fbs-ad ad-id="article-0-inread" position="inread" progressive=""></fbs-ad>In fact, nearly every day, Americans are hearing companies announce that, thanks to the tax cut and their improved economic prospects, they are going to be able to do more for their employees. So far, over 250 companies have announced special bonuses, wage increases, new investments, increased benefits, and new job openings in response to the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.&nbsp; Starbucks recently revealed that they are extending paid leave benefits to hourly employees. This week, Home Depot awarded its hourly employees a tax reform cash bonus of up to $1,000. Apple announced a plan to build a new campus and create 20,000 new jobs. Walt Disney is handing out $1,000 bonuses to 125,000 workers.</p> <p> That&#39;s a lot of good news for the President to share at the State of the Union, news that should earn bipartisan applause. Out-of-touch, wealthy Democrats like&nbsp;<a href="http://iwf.org/blog/2805659/Debbie-Wasserman-Schultz,-Nancy-Pelosi-Pooh-pooh-%241,000-Bonuses-from-Tax-Reform" target="_blank">Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman may pooh-pooh</a>&nbsp;a thousand-dollar bonus as &ldquo;crumbs,&rdquo; but that&#39;s not how it feels to most Americans.&nbsp; A thousand dollars at the start of a new year can do a lot to pay off holiday credit cards, make repairs to the house, or take the kids on a long-awaited spring vacation.&nbsp; And Americans recognize that those new benefits and bonus payments mean that better times may be ahead.</p> <p> Economic prospects are looking up not only because of the historic tax cuts, but also because the Administration has been reexamining our regulatory environment, which has also needlessly held back economic growth&mdash;and restricted Americans&rsquo; prosperity&mdash;for decades.&nbsp; From repealing the Clean Power Plan to onerous labor reporting requirements, the Administration has been unwinding red tape that was layered on by the Obama Administration.&nbsp; That&#39;s something that the President should be proud to highlight during his speech, and that Americans will overwhelming recognize as a win for everyone, and for common sense.</p> <p> American women may notice that the President often speaks directly about efforts to boost women&#39;s economic prospects and address problems.&nbsp; Republican political leaders have typically shied away from talking about child care and paid leave policy, but President Trump has made it a priority.&nbsp; In fact, he is the first President to include a paid leave line item in his budget.</p> <p> The President reiterated his commitment to taking action on paid leave benefits at a recent White House event. Some Americans are concerned that this could grow government and undermine tax reform by requiring a new payroll tax, but the good news is that helping more workers access paid leave wouldn&rsquo;t necessarily require a costly new entitlement program or more tax revenue: The Independent Women&#39;s Forum is promoting a&nbsp;<a href="http://iwf.org/publications/2805496/Policy-Focus:-A-Budget-Neutral-Approach-to-Parental-Leave" target="_blank">budget-neutral plan</a>&nbsp;for reforming the Social Security system so that working parents could elect to take up to 12 weeks each of benefits today, following the birth of a child, in exchange for postponing their retirement benefits by just six weeks.&nbsp; Such an approach would provide many people with greater financial security, but wouldn&#39;t discourage companies from offering benefits on their own or developing other flexible solutions.&nbsp; This kind of modern and innovative thinking should have bipartisan appeal.</p> <p> Many American women are getting tired of endless political posturing and empty gestures. They will be tuning in to hear about the Administration&#39;s plans for continued economic growth, enhancement in our national security, and other needed reforms, not to see what color anyone chooses to wear.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2805693/Carrie L. LukasTue, 30 Jan 2018 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIndependent Women's Forum Offers Budget-Neutral Approach to Parental Leave in the US<p> Paid parental leave for new parents has gained widespread support in recent years. One major impediment to providing paid parental leave in the United States has been both direct and indirect costs associated with the policy. However, the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.atlasnetwork.org/partners/global-directory/independent-womens-forum">Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</a>&nbsp;(IWF) recently articulated an innovative approach to providing paid parental leave while also not accruing additional costs.</p> <p> &ldquo;States and localities are increasingly creating paid leave ordinances and policy leaders have been calling for a national program to ensure that all workers have access to paid leave benefits,&rdquo;&nbsp;said Carrie Lukas, president of IWF. &ldquo;Independent Women&#39;s Forum has been arguing for more than a decade that a one-size-fits-all federal program to provide paid leave could backfire on workers, creating new costs and making our work force less flexible.&rdquo;</p> <p> IWF has proposed that the federal government allow new parents the opportunity to collect early Social Security benefits after the birth of their child in exchange for an associated deferral of their Social Security retirement benefits in a recent paper, called&nbsp;<a href="http://iwf.org/publications/2805496/Policy-Focus:-A-Budget-Neutral-Approach-to-Parental-Leave">&ldquo;Policy Focus: A Budget-Neutral Approach to Parental Leave.&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;The length of the deferral period would be calculated to be long enough to offset the cost of providing Social Security parental benefits. Preliminary estimates find that 12 weeks of parental benefits would need a deferral of Social Security retirement benefits by only six weeks, although further study is needed.</p> <p> &ldquo;IWF is proud to have just published the&nbsp;first paper outlining an innovative approach to giving working greater access to paid leave benefits without growing government or stifling innovation,&rdquo; Lukas continued. &ldquo;Unlike paid leave proposals before it, the&nbsp;<a href="http://iwf.org/publications/2805496/Policy-Focus:-A-Budget-Neutral-Approach-to-Parental-Leave">Social Security Parental Benefits</a>&nbsp;solution would expand access to paid parental leave to all workers in the United States without raising taxes, increasing the deficit, or hurting workers&rsquo; economic opportunities.&rdquo;</p> <p> IWF&rsquo;s paper and its policy proposal have gotten coverage in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-simple-plan-for-parental-leave-1516836442"><em>The Wall Street Journal</em>&nbsp;last week</a>.</p> <p> &ldquo;Importantly this proposal could enable new parents who want and need paid leave to receive up to 12 weeks of benefits through the Social Security program in exchange for delaying their retirement benefits to make up for those costs,&rdquo; Lukas continued. &ldquo;This wouldn&rsquo;t impact workers who like their current compensation arrangement and their employers&rsquo; benefit programs, but could be a lifeline for those who really need it.&rdquo;</p> <p> <a href="http://pdf.iwf.org/budget-neutral_approach_parental_leave_PF18.pdf">Read &ldquo;Policy Focus: A Budget-Neutral Approach to Parental Leave&rdquo;</a></p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> http://iwf.org/media/2805701/Carrie L. LukasMon, 29 Jan 2018 07:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe movement to politicize women<p> Last weekend, millions of women took part in the protests that were organized across the country to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Women&#39;s March and President Trump&#39;s inauguration. This was an explicitly partisan event: It was dubbed Power to the Polls and focused on electing Democrats, particularly a swell of women, in the upcoming mid-term elections.</p> <p> There&#39;s nothing wrong with a political rally and Democratic women can be proud of their ability to generate so much enthusiasm and turnout.</p> <p> Yet it&#39;s also important for people to recognize these events for what they are. While the Left uses the name &ldquo;Women&#39;s March,&rdquo; it was never a march supporting or representing women, but rather about championing progressive causes and their champions (male or female).</p> <p> The Women&#39;s March is about electing Democrats. It&#39;s as simple as that.</p> <p> The &ldquo;Women&#39;s March&rdquo; certainly doesn&rsquo;t welcome the four-in-10 female voters who cast their ballots for Trump in the 2016 election. It explicitly excludes anyone who disagrees with the most progressive position on reproductive rights. They aren&#39;t in the business of defending women like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, or any of the other women on the right who are belittled by the mainstream media and celebrity culture, who otherwise like to preen about wanting women to get involved in public life and claim to oppose sexism. They shame them and defend only women who agree with their political agenda.</p> <p> And many women don&#39;t agree with that agenda. About 70 percent of women (and men) are happy that the most comprehensive tax reform in decades became law, leaving their families with more take-home pay and better job prospects. Many have been thrilled to see the rollback of unnecessary government regulation. Many women are concerned that our broken immigration system is harming the prospects of Americans, straining community resources, and leaving us vulnerable to attack, and hope that the president makes progress there too.</p> <p> Organizers of the &ldquo;Women&#39;s March&rdquo; ignore these women, but the media shouldn&#39;t. Too often, the Left gets away with the suggestion that they speak for &ldquo;women&rdquo; as a whole, as if women are a monolith and are accurately represented by the New York City and Hollywood glitterati that headline these events.</p> <p> That&#39;s insulting to women who are a diverse group, with wide-ranging opinions about policy and politics.</p> <p> Moreover, allowing the Left to claim to represent women threatens to undermine areas of bipartisan agreement. During this past year, people on the right and the left have applauded #MeToo women and men who have come forward to speak about sexual assault and harassment that has been prevalent in many industries and workplaces. There has been a bipartisan consensus that this shouldn&#39;t be tolerated. Republicans and Democrats alike have been forced to step down from the positions that they hold due to revelations of sexual misconduct. While these events have had political implications, such as impacting the special election in Alabama, they haven&#39;t been overtly partisan.</p> <p> Yet organizers of the Women&#39;s March seem interested in co-opting the cause as their own and using it to advance reforms that have nothing to do with sexual assault and harassment. It&#39;s worth debating the causes of women and men&#39;s differences in earnings, if regulations would help women earn more or backfire on them, and the best paid leave and childcare policies. But those issues and potential reforms are separate from workplace violence and sexual harassment.</p> <p> Yes, the Women&#39;s March is an impressive movement. Their views deserve respect. But women outside of the Women&#39;s March deserve respect and coverage too.</p> <p> Pretending that all women think alike or march under one political banner isn&#39;t progress; it&#39;s stereotyping.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2805622/Carrie L. LukasTue, 23 Jan 2018 15:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum#WomensMarch Celebrates Trump’s Inauguration Anniversary<p> Women across the country staged marches to celebrate the one- year anniversary of the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump. The economy&nbsp;<a href="https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/economic-optimism-tax-cut-bonuses-trump-credit/">is booming</a>, consumer confidence has rocketed out of the national malaise of the Obama years and is at&nbsp;<a href="https://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/trump-economy-gdp-growth-unemployment/">a 17 year high</a>. Unemployment numbers of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/01/17/trump_proud_that_more_women_in_the_workforce_than_ever_before_on_my_watch.html">women</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/05/black-unemployment-rate-falls-to-record-low.html">African Americans</a>&nbsp;are at a historic low, and the unemployment rate of the general workforce is likely to drop to its lowest&nbsp;<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/21/news/economy/unemployment-rate-jobs-goldman-sachs/index.html">since 1969</a>&nbsp;by 2019. Sounds like the past year deserves a celebration.</p> <p> Oh, wait. That&rsquo;s not what happened at all. The pink pussy hat brigade revived itself after months of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/12/20/post-election-donald-trump-anxiety-sent-people-to-their-therapists-and-now-theyre-reconsidering-their-jobs-and-relationships/">psychotherapy</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newsweek.com/americans-scream-helplessly-sky-donald-trump-election-anniversary-690889">screaming at the sky</a>, and ugly social media posts to take to the streets of American cities Saturday. In my city of Houston, a local news station sent out a tweet with quotes from the mayor (@SylvesterTurner) and the police chief (@ArtAcevedo) &ndash; both Democrats &ndash; with a plea for more women in elected office and don&rsquo;t forget &ldquo;we&rsquo;re in Texas&rdquo;.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WomensMarch2018?src=hash">&ldquo;#WomensMarch2018</a>&nbsp;Houston City Leaders rocked the crowd today at City Hall. &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s elect a whole lot of women to positions of power!&rdquo; &ndash;&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/SylvesterTurner">@SylvesterTurner</a>&nbsp;&ldquo;You cannot stop humanity from moving forward. And, let&rsquo;s not forget, we&rsquo;re in Texas. Don&rsquo;t forget our history.&rdquo; &ndash;&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ArtAcevedo">@ArtAcevedo&rdquo;</a></p> <p> Thanks for the mansplaining, guys. While I, too, would like to see more women in elected office, make no mistake. These two men are not imploring conservative women to run for office. The Women&rsquo;s March has made it perfectly clear that only women of liberal political philosophy are welcome. For instance, pro-life women are not welcomed. Did I miss the supportive quotes for the annual March for Life yesterday from these guys? The Women&rsquo;s March organization is&nbsp;<a href="http://iwf.org/news/2805593/Las-Vegas-women%E2%80%99s-march-more-about-promoting-progressive-politics">a progressive women&rsquo;s organization.</a>&nbsp;<span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">(Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum)</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> The women who went to the Women&rsquo;s March in D.C. last year were concerned about what the new president would mean for the country. Many were understandably disappointed that Hillary Clinton had failed to become the first female president. They were disturbed by recordings of the president&rsquo;s crude remarks on the infamous &ldquo;Billy Bush tape,&rdquo; as well as his tweets and other statements about women. They didn&rsquo;t know what policies the president would enact and had been encouraged by activists and many media figures to expect the worst.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Yet a year later, while the president continues to make rash tweets and pick personal fights that seem juvenile, the worst fears of those who took part in that initial Women&rsquo;s March haven&rsquo;t been realized.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> There hasn&rsquo;t been a roll back of women&rsquo;s rights, and the government&rsquo;s checks and balances remain firmly in place. The president has made meaningful progress in rescinding executive orders issued by Barrack Obama, which had massively expanded government&rsquo;s power without legislative approval and created a thicket of red tape that slowed the economy. As a result of this and the important tax reform package passed last year, the economy, at long last, is improving, more people are working and wages appear set to finally start to climb.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> That&rsquo;s good news for everyone, especially women who now are primary or sole breadwinners for more than 40 percent of U.S. homes and manage household budgets.</p> <p> What rights have women lost? There are none. This president doesn&rsquo;t even threaten to try to do away with Roe v Wade. With the economy growing and thriving, all people, including women benefit. Women business owners benefit from&nbsp;<a href="https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2018/0105/Trump-s-deregulation-drive-is-epic-in-scale-and-scope.-And-yet">aggressive de-regulation</a>. Just as political strategist James Carville once said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the economy, stupid.&rdquo; Americans vote their pocketbooks and that probably has the left quite concerned. I&rsquo;m old enough to remember being told if Trump won the election, the stock market would crash and we&rsquo;d all be living on the streets.</p> <p> As is his style, Trump took to Twitter to send a perfect message to the marchers:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &ldquo;Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!&rdquo;</p> <p> The main event was organized&nbsp;<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/thousands-streets-womens-march-anniversary-trumps-1st-year/story?id=52483721">in Nevada</a>.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Organizers chose Nevada to host the main event this year because it &ldquo;was rocked by the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, recent sexual assault allegations against elected officials and has become a battleground state that will shape the Senate in 2018,&rdquo; according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.powertothepolls.com/">Women&rsquo;s March website</a>.</p> <p> What? The Las Vegas shooting tragedy is Trump&rsquo;s fault? Of course not. They just weren&rsquo;t able to be honest and just use the real excuse on its own &ndash; Nevada is a swing state.</p> <p> March all you want, ladies. Just stop pretending it&rsquo;s a march for all women. Hillary Clinton won Nevada in November 2016 but not the presidency. For me, that&rsquo;s some real cause to celebrate every day.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2805609/Carrie L. LukasSat, 20 Jan 2018 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum