The Corner

Politics & Policy

Family Leave

There has been some speculation this morning about what (if anything in particular) President Trump might have had in mind with his brief mention of family leave in the State of the Union address. 

I think the place to look is this brilliant recent proposal by Kristin Shapiro. Shapiro and AEI fellow (and former deputy commissioner of Social Security) Andrew Biggs laid out the basics in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month:

Our proposal is simple: Offer new parents the opportunity to collect early Social Security benefits for a period—say, 12 weeks—after the arrival of their child. To offset the cost, parents would agree to delay collecting Social Security retirement benefits, probably for only about six weeks.

Paid leave when a child is born in return for a slightly later retirement decades later. The finances work out, and it is free of many of the problems with other paid leave proposals. This idea opens a path for Republicans to offer a paid leave proposal without burdening employers (and therefore reducing employment) or, ultimately, increasing the deficit. 

As with many smart new policy ideas, the proposal’s main supporter among policymakers so far is Utah senator Mike Lee. But I think it will soon become the consensus Republican family leave idea, and it has already caught the eye of the administration. 

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.

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