(TERRE HAUTE) TRIBUNE-STAR
Ivanka Trump has done working families a service.
Thanks to Ms. Trump, the plight of working families — which involves child care and paid family leave — is finally being lifted to the rank of discussion it deserves.
Ms. Trump, first daughter and adviser to President Donald Trump, recently attended a meeting on Capitol Hill with GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Deb Fischer and other Republican lawmakers.
After the meeting, Ms. Trump tweeted: “Just left a productive meeting on the Hill to discuss issues affecting American working families, including childcare & paid family leave!”
As for child care support, the most definitive action from the Trump administration to date is included in a one-page handout the White House released in April. In it, the president calls for tax relief for families with child care expenses. No other details have been released.
A plan for paid family leave, however, is outlined in President Trump’s proposed budget, which provides six weeks of paid leave to new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents, and would be paid for by using the unemployment insurance system as a base.
The plan allows states flexibility in design and financing of the program. However, it also relies on reforms of the insurance system and states being able to maintain reserves in their Unemployment Trust Fund accounts, which makes Democrats and Republicans alike nervous.
Sen. Rubio, who called the June 20 meeting a “first step” in the discussion, released a plan of his own in 2015 during his presidential campaign. It offers tax credits for businesses that voluntarily offer at least four weeks of paid family leave.
Democrats say proposals such as Sen. Fischer’s Strong Families Act, that also give tax credits to companies offering paid leave, don’t go far enough in their protections.
However you see it, and despite Trump’s budget cuts to programs in which many working families benefit, the fact is a Republican administration is bringing the issue to the forefront for discussion.
This itself is a milestone. Yet we can’t pretend the issues aren’t surrounded by problems and partisanship. The day after the meeting, the House Democratic Women’s Working Group gathered to discuss paid family leave.
Two meetings in two days. Neither — as far as we know — included members of the opposite party.
Although there is value in like-minded groups gathering to form opinions and chart a course of action, the discussion must become inclusive.
The significance of the conversation should not be overlooked. It truly is a major “first step” in a process that includes strengthening American families.
It’s imperative for the leaders of this country to acknowledge child care costs are crippling households and that paid family leave cannot be ignored any longer.
With bipartisan discussion — and hopefully compromise — on the horizon, it becomes even more clear these aren’t just women’s issues. They are also men’s issues. They are Republican issues and Democrat issues. The discussion benefits all.
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