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: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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We continue to monitor a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be in heavy rainfall two locations across the southeast over the course of the weekend, and flooding rainfall could be in tow as well. Things are looking better for Father’s Day itself, thankfully.
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