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How to offer paid leave without imposing a new tax

Paid leave has emerged into the policy spotlight for 2018, both in Congress and within the Trump administration. The ...

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 8:47 AM
Updated: Apr 10, 2018 8:47 AM

Paid leave has emerged into the policy spotlight for 2018, both in Congress and within the Trump administration. The question is how to provide such a benefit without burdening employers, raising taxes or creating a new entitlement.

Thus far, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida; Mike Lee, R-Utah; and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, are contemplating an innovative proposal to reform Social Security by allowing employees access to paid leave benefits after the birth or adoption of a new child, in exchange for a short delay in retirement benefits to compensate for this cost.

The words "reform Social Security" may set off alarm bells for some, and opponents of this proposal are sure to stoke fear among seniors by falsely suggesting this plan would cut their retirement benefits and put the entire Social Security system in jeopardy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The proposal is designed to preserve the Social Security Trust Fund and would have precisely zero impact on anyone who is retired or near retirement. The only people who would be affected would be those who elect to take parental leave in exchange for delaying their retirement benefits. Participation would be entirely voluntary.

The concept is simple: People working and paying into Social Security today would have the option of receiving a parental leave benefit -- much like a Social Security disability benefit -- after the birth or adoption of a child. Those who take leave benefits would then have to wait a few additional months to be eligible for Social Security to offset the cost.

Actuaries are still evaluating exactly how long retirement benefits would have to be deferred, but it's likely to be about an equal trade. For one week of paid parental leave people would delay their Social Security benefits by one week. That means someone who takes 12 weeks of parental benefits in 2018 would have to wait until about three months after his or her 67th birthday to receive full Social Security benefits, rather than being eligible at age 67.

Many young people in today's workforce, who can expect to live well into their 80s and 90s, will welcome the option of working a few extra months in exchange for paid family leave. It is at this time in their lives when young families really need help during the joyful -- but also stressful and financially difficult -- time of welcoming a new child.

But what does that mean for retirees and the Social Security program's overall health? The proposal would have no impact at all on current Social Security enrollees and could actually help in the long term. Currently, nearly half of low-income women who lack access to paid family leave go on public assistance after having a baby, meaning they do not pay into Social Security. Allowing these women to tap into their Social Security at such a critical moment in their lives will result in less reliance on other social programs, saving taxpayers money. Others in the workforce who have paid leave benefits are also less likely to quit their jobs after having a baby, meaning they are more likely to return to work and resume paying into Social Security.

At least four states have paid leave programs and many others are considering that option. Democrats and some conservative groups, like the American Enterprise Institute, are advancing proposals to create an entirely new entitlement program with a new payroll tax of its own. This is a wrongheaded approach.

Having a new tax on top of the payroll tax already levied to pay for Social Security and Medicare will lower people's take-home pay today and make it more difficult for taxpayers to shoulder these burdens in the future. It would be far wiser to more efficiently use the programs we already have in place, and focus on keeping them financially solvent, rather than creating another entitlement program competing for resources.

Seniors want what is best for future generations and should welcome modernizing the Social Security program to help their children and grandchildren. And by promoting continued participation in the workforce, it means Social Security's retirement program will remain protected.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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Columbus
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Little bits and pieces of low pressure move back into our area over the next several days. This will bring back into our weather forecast some more chances for some isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms.
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