The Corner

Economy & Business

Reform and Flexibility in Rubio’s Paid-Parental-Leave Bill

Marco Rubio has a paid-parental-leave bill that would allow parents to collect Social Security benefits following the arrival of a new child. In exchange, new parents who take the early benefits would delay receiving Social Security payments by several months when they reach normal retirement age, decades later.

This is a bad idea for several reasons. Our focus should be on reducing projected Social Security spending, not redirecting it. Social Security is underfunded, so allowing people to borrow from future benefits is deeply problematic. This is especially true given the senator’s insistence that the policy wouldn’t increase taxes or federal spending.

And this policy would burden employers by increasing the number of workers who take long periods of time off work following the arrival of a new child. This burden would likely make it harder for less-educated women of child-bearing age to find a job.

This is a textbook instance of the law of unintended consequences — a well-meaning policy would end up hurting the very people it is intended to help.

Supporters of Senator Rubio’s bill have begun to argue that it reforms Social Security by introducing flexibility into the program. In my latest Bloomberg column, I argue that reform and flexibility are appealing. But if that’s the goal, I have two suggestions.

First, don’t rely on the promise that benefits today will be paid back by delayed receipt of retirement benefits decades from now. Instead, any Social Security reform should reduce federal spending. There are reasonable cost-saving measures that would put Social Security on more stable footing and that would reduce the budget deficit. They should be enacted.

Second, in addition to deficit reduction, these cuts would create space to expand the child tax credit, perhaps by offering a larger credit in the year in which a household welcomes a new child. This offers much more flexibility to new parents than a federal paid-leave payment. Parents could use the expanded credit to finance time away from work, of course — or on any of the new expenses they will face.

You can read my full argument over at Bloomberg.

Most Popular

Film & TV

A Film for All Christians

‘The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts,” wrote George Eliot in Middlemarch, “and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” The passage provides the title ... Read More
Film & TV

A Film for All Christians

‘The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts,” wrote George Eliot in Middlemarch, “and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” The passage provides the title ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The FBI’s Corrupt Cops

White-collar criminals should hope for one thing this Christmas: that they get to live under the Horowitz rules. Michael Horowitz has testified that he found no evidence of political bias on the part of the decision makers who, under the Obama administration, relied on hilariously implausible “evidence” ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The FBI’s Corrupt Cops

White-collar criminals should hope for one thing this Christmas: that they get to live under the Horowitz rules. Michael Horowitz has testified that he found no evidence of political bias on the part of the decision makers who, under the Obama administration, relied on hilariously implausible “evidence” ... Read More
Elections

An Election Too Important to Be Left to Voters

The Democrats believe that the 2020 election is too important to be left to the voters. It’s obvious that President Donald Trump withheld defense aid to Ukraine to pressure its president to commit to the investigations that he wanted, an improper use of his power that should rightly be the focus of ... Read More
Elections

An Election Too Important to Be Left to Voters

The Democrats believe that the 2020 election is too important to be left to the voters. It’s obvious that President Donald Trump withheld defense aid to Ukraine to pressure its president to commit to the investigations that he wanted, an improper use of his power that should rightly be the focus of ... Read More