Ivanka Trump and Marco Rubio Team Up in Controversial Effort

February 06, 2018Feb 06, 2018

Only a couple of years ago, the majority of Republicans were staunchly opposed to paid family leave. From their point of view, paid family leave represented yet another federal mandate on employers and another costly federal effort. 

Still, the Hill reports that many Republicans are skeptical of Trump's recent proposal to spend about $19 billion over the next 10 years on paid paternal leave. Trump's proposal would provide parents six weeks of paid paternal leave as part of unemployment benefits. The idea was first championed first daughter Ivanka Trump. 

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, for instance, raised concerns about having more federal mandates on employers. 

“I’ve always had concerns about more federal mandates on employers,” Lindsey Graham said. “I can think of a million things that are good for employees, that are important in people’s lives. The question for me is how many jobs do you lose?”

Graham then quickly added that providing assistance to people who have recently had a baby is a worthy endeavor, but that such an effort needs to take into consideration the economic impact it might have on hiring. 

Politico reports that Marco Rubio, a Roman Catholic, and Ivanka Trump recently teamed up to strategize a means to win over a skeptical Republican base on the issue of paid family leave. They hope to capitalize on Trump's endorsement of the idea in his State of the Union address. 

The Trump-Rubio plan neither raises taxes nor puts a mandate on employers. They hope that the bill will represent a great compromise between the two parties. On the one hand, it champions an issue that has historically only been supported by Democrats. On the other hand, it helps to overcome two of the most significant Republican hurdles: the fear of raising taxes and a reluctance to impose more crippling mandates on employers. 

"We still have to work on members of my own party,” Rubio said to Politico. “I think there will be significant initial resistance to it because it’s just not an issue that’s been identified with the Republican Party.”

Marco Rubio and Ivanka Trump envision an approach to paid family leave that has recently gained appeal in Republican circles. This idea involves permitting people to draw Social Security benefits when they want to take time off for a new baby or other family-related matter.

At initial glance, Democrats worry that this is compromising a comfortable retirement in order to pay for taking time off for a new baby. But given Republican resistance to the idea of paid family leave at all, regardless of what form it takes and how it is paid for, it is a proposal that Democrats should welcome with open arms, at least as a significant step in the right direction, especially since it is authored by a prominent Republican Senator and supported by a Republican president and his daughter.

Politico writes that a person who would begin receiving full benefits when he or she turns 67 years old but wants to take six weeks of paid family leave wouldn't draw Social Security benefits until six weeks after his or her 67th birthday.

Rubio continues, “That’s a new idea for Republicans who still identify it as something that comes out of the left. Forcing companies to provide it is perhaps an idea that finds its genesis on the left, but the notion that pregnancy should not be a bankruptcy-eliciting event is one that I think all Americans should be supportive of."

Many pro-life and pro-family Senators are on board with this proposal, including Senator Mike Lee from Utah. Lee is also a close ally of Rubio, with whom he lobbied for expanding the child tax credit, also an effort backed by Ivanka. In this regard, Rubio has advocated what he calls a "pro-family" policy platform that promotes a softer side to conservatism — one that advocates for both limited government and policies that promote strong families.

Currently, the United States doesn't have paid family leave, which would aid parents in caring for a newborn or adopted child. The Trump administration in the past has requested six weeks of paid family leave. As of now, the United States is the only industrialized country that doesn't have mandatory family leave policy. 

According to Politico, Rubio argues that the overall tax plan will benefit people with lower incomes. This is because they're far less likely to work for companies that proactively offer paid family leave. Rubio also disagrees with those of a purely free market view that businesses will eventually provide paid family leave. 

"There's no evidence that's the case anywhere," responds Rubio to those who promote such a view. "Particularly down into the $20,000, $30,000, $35,000 range." 

"For people that I know and interact with, going two weeks without a paycheck is catastrophic," said Rubio. "Imagine going two months or three months. They gotta give you time under the law, but you don't get paid. It's just not a sustainable thing."

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