Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wagner, Rubio Push Parental Leave Plans That Would Allow Parents to Tap Social Security Early

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wagner, Rubio Push Parental Leave Plans That Would Allow Parents to Tap Social Security Early

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner said Thursday she hopes to get Democratic co-sponsors on legislation she is pushing to allow parents of newborns to take Social Security benefits early as paid family leave.

Wagner, R-Ballwin, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., held a news conference here to tout separate bills they plan to introduce that would take slightly different approaches, but are centered around one philosophy: Social Security benefits should be available for new parents in exchange for either a delay in retirement benefits or slightly lower benefits at retirement long enough to make up the money taken earlier for paid family leave.

Rubio is building his bill around the former, Wagner the latter. But both said their goals were to provide relief, at no further cost to taxpayers or new mandates on employers, for the 85 percent of American workers who currently do not receive paid family leave from their employers without raising taxes or creating a new bureaucracy.

The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world without paid parental leave.

President Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, have made it a priority, and both Rubio and Wagner said Thursday that was an important factor in their efforts to get legislation passed.

"The White House is very much interested in the legislation that we have going forward," Wagner said.

The proposal has sparked opposition from the right, with the libertarian Cato Institute calling it a well-intentioned plan that puts government more, not less, involved in family decisions.

And it comes in a year in which tax cuts given to American corporations and individuals by the GOP-controlled Congress have done little to reduce the percentage of Americans without paid parental leave.

One study this year said that only 13 percent of the corporate tax cuts were actually going to workers in bonuses, higher wages and other benefits, with $171 billion going into stock buybacks by companies, a process which economists have said is one reason for a record-high stock market. …

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