Does Trump's paid maternal leave plan represent a turning point?
I often write for BenefitsPro.com, and in the past I've contributed stories about paid family leave policies, so I was very glad to see this discussion of Donald Trump's proposal in this area. The article itself is pretty critical of the Trump proposal, but I have a slightly different take. I don't agree with the "It's better than nothing" school of thought, but one doesn't have to embrace "better than nothing," to recognize that this is better than what the GOP has offered in the past. Republican policy-makers have generally been hesitant to take up positions that aren't supported by the business community. But the business community is a pretty diverse bunch--there are plenty of employers who would support a national family leave policy. Others already provide benefits in this area but would prefer not to have them mandated by the government. That's an understandable position to take--but it has had the effect of leaving a lot of families out in the cold, if their employers elect not to provide family leave benefits.
So now we have a GOP presidential candidate putting forward a national plan for paid maternal leave. Yes, it only applies to some women. Yes, it relies on tax breaks, which may not be of much use to lower-income workers who are already paying little in the way of federal taxes. Yes, the funding of the plan is extremely murky. But just by making the proposal, Trump has moved the country forward. We now have both GOP and Democratic candidates for president debating not whether, but *how*, to best address a problem that so many workers struggle with. I think it's a big step forward--and I'm not exactly a Donald Trump cheerleader.
If national politicians show this kind of leadership, the business community may well decide that change is inevitable, and get on board with a solution. I believe much of the business community recognizes that working families need some kind of help with this issue. If they see our lawmakers recognizing the need as well, they are much more likely to work with elected officials on crafting a plan that is more acceptable to everyone. And as that happens, we will do much better than "better than nothing." (Here's a recent shot of Minnehaha Falls--our wet summer has kept the water level pretty high lately.)