Hillary Clinton made some news recently with a major announcement. OK, not
THAT announcement – but one that should be noted nonetheless. She stated
that paid family leave should be implemented, eventually, in the United
States. Some pundits immediately jumped on this statement as having the
potential to be major, positive, campaign plank, should she decide to run
for President in 2016.
I hope she strongly considers it.
Despite the typical dogma about the issue, the evidence tells a more nuanced
story. In a recent, and excellent, overview of the issues, the New
Republic’s Jonathan Cohn describes how family-friendly policies actually
have “clear, quantifiable costs” and they realize “clear, quantifiable
benefits.” To my eye, the key here is that those benefits go far beyond the
obvious regarding the quality of the child’s upbringing. When it comes to
the parent’s own work, the evidence appears to indicate better retention and
higher productivity. And it’s not just the liberals who say so. Cohn reports
that, “if you talk to actual business leaders, you hear a different, much
more nuanced story. The trend among Fortune 500 companies has been towards offering longer leaves, with more compensation.”
Note the qualifier “actual,” as therein lies the heart of Mrs. Clinton’s
conclusion: she estimates that paid family leave is not politically feasible
Of course, she’s right, while we live in an era where people like Sen. Thad
Cochran (R-MS) and soon-to-be-former Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) pass for
“moderate” Republicans. If only the GOP were still controlled by “actual”
business leaders, instead of ideologically extreme anti-government types,
this kind of policy might have a chance today. But, if Hillary Clinton makes
that other announcement, we might very well see this debate taken to the
Congress after 2016.
If so, folks like us who labor on behalf of working people across this
country will be ready.
About the author. Ben Grant is an attorney at the workers’ rights law firm, McTeague Higbee. He can be reached at 207-725-5581 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.