It wasn’t until recently that I realized there were innovative solutions to paid leave that conservatives could support. Many have been skeptical of government solutions to helping working parents, but that’s because they failed to think outside the box.
Thanks to the work of places like Independent Women’s Forum (my employer), politicians now working on potential legislation and Ivanka Trump making this issue priority in the White House, there are now solutions available that can be bipartisanly supported.
We often hear calls for a European system where employers are mandated to provide at least 3 months of fully paid maternity leave (if not more), but the idea simply isn’t feasible for every business or organization. When you don’t rely on mandates, you can get creative — and that’s what IWF and others are doing.
It’s idea that’s been picked up in the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Mail and other outlets — and the Left should be clamoring around it. A solution we can all agree on? Say it ain’t so! Here’s a short description from our recent policy document:
One impediment to providing paid parental leave is the cost. However, there is a way for the federal government to provide paid parental leave to every worker in the United States at no additional cost: 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.
The deferral period would be calculated to be long enough to oﬀset the cost of providing Social Security parental beneﬁts. While this issue requires further study, preliminary estimates suggest that in order tooﬀset the cost of 12 weeks of parental beneﬁts, new parents electing this option would only need to defer their Social Security retirement beneﬁts by six weeks.
As soon as I saw this plan — along with another one that suggests offering parents 401k style savings accounts for paid leave — I wondered why every women’s magazine in the country wasn’t dying to write about it. So far, I’ve seen little mention of these options despite the fact that these magazines are certainly concerned with the issue of paid leave, as are millions of parents across the country.
Hopefully, President Trump’s mention of the importance of pursuing innovative paid leave policies at last night’s State of the Union will spur further discussion on this issue. Conservatives want to help working parents too, as we know children and family are an important fabric of our society.
Too often, I see hardline conservatives saying government shouldn’t be involved AT ALL or hear lines like “don’t have kids if you can’t afford them.” But this is the wrong approach. We should all value family and children — and do our best to create a society that offers the best options for families in realistic, cost-effective ways. Let’s offer choices to parents and create the environment we actually want to live in.