One in five Americans is on Medicaid, and Medicare and Social Security will require huge future tax increases. Yet some in the ostensible party of limited government think this is the perfect time to add a new entitlement for paid family leave. Who wrote that book about Republican Party suicide again?
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and his sidekick Mike Lee of Utah are teaming up with Ivanka Trump to design a plan for federal paid leave. President Trump has endorsed the concept, and his budget includes an outline involving unemployment insurance.
The plan would supposedly pay for itself because workers would merely change the time in their lives when they collect Social Security benefits. No mandate on employers, no payroll tax increase. Presto, a free political lunch.
The first problem is that this would shift the burden of providing the benefit from the private economy to government. Academic evidence shows that family leave keeps employees in their jobs and can make them happier or more productive, which is one reason many companies pay for it. But why pay when the government offers 12 weeks?
Proponents say this won’t happen because the Social Security payout will only furnish about 45 percent of the average worker’s wages, but that still changes business incentives.
Some companies might add more money or more weeks, but they’ll stop paying for that 45 percent of the first 12.
Behind family-values platitudes is a question of whether government should pay for every benefit worth having in American life. Mr. Rubio and others think Republicans must compete with Democrats on government handouts, only less generous and targeted to people they like. With their latest budget deal, the GOP is staring at annual deficits of $1 trillion a year. Republicans should be reforming entitlements, not expanding them.
The Wall Street Journal