On the Issues: family leave gains steam in both parties

Credit: India Price/ Credit: India Price/

Most countries in the world mandate paid family leave for new parents so they have time to spend with their babies before returning to a life at the office. America, however, has a strong business culture that often avoids mandates that can constrict the freedom of entrepreneurs. America is moving away from such a strict mindset, though, and paid family leave is slowly but surely becoming a popular bipartisan issue. Candidates are split on how and if the federal government should mandate paid family leave.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson

Carson is largely opposed to government mandates, so it is likely that he is against mandated family leave. However, this is purely speculation and Carson does not seem to have mentioned the issue.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Cruz has spoken very highly about the value of paid family leave. However, Cruz thinks that federal mandates are generally a bad idea and believes that paid family leave is not unique.

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Kasich has said that paid family leave will hurt equal pay and opportunity for women because it will cause employers to be skeptical about how productive women will be compared to men who would not go on paid family leave (it’s unclear how he feels about parental leave for all parents, however). Kasich believes it is a better strategy to create flexibility for new mothers to work at home and online so they can spend time with their newborn infants. He believes this reduces the workload enough to allow parenting to be the foremost obligation in a person’s life, without hurting their ability to get equal access to jobs and fair wages.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Rubio believes mandates are counterproductive, however, he would institute a massive tax credit for offering paid family leave. The credit would cover 25 percent of leave for up to 12 weeks and $4,000 per employee. He believes stricter mandates will hurt equal employment opportunities for women, while a tax credit will help to provide family leave without imposing major costs on business. Rubio’s tax credit fits with a theme of his campaign where he uses tax relief as a carrot rather than outright spending on programs.

Recipient of a small loan of a million dollars Donald Trump

Trump has said that people are people are discussing paid leave, but ought to use caution because the American economy has to be competitive. Trump has not been more specific about his ideas on paid family leave.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Clinton has a three part plan for paid leave. The first part of her plan is to guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid leave for both family and medical reasons. This gives new parents adequate time to spend with their children before returning to work. The second part is to ensure at least two thirds wage replacement, preventing this from being a major loss for businesses. The third part is a promise to tax the wealthy instead of the middle class and has little to do with family leave.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Sanders has pushed legislation on the Senate floor to raise the payroll tax by $1.61 to guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave for all citizens. His plan would cover leave and does not seem to have caps for wage replacement.

The payroll tax increase would fund wage replacement for new parents.