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What Do Americans Think About Paid Family Leave? (Re-air)

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
July 26, 2021 12:07 pm

What Do Americans Think About Paid Family Leave? (Re-air)

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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July 26, 2021 12:07 pm

This week on Family Policy Matters, we’re bringing you a re-air of a show from February 2020 with Henry Olsen, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Olsen discusses a survey of American voters on paid family leave, and shares the surprising findings that support for paid family leave spans the partisan divide and is highly important to key voter groups.

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Policy matters and engaging in weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Rosen presidency family and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that she will flow better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation. Now here's our host family policy matters tracing event brings thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters, paid family leave the concept for hearing more of these days Americans are looking for ways to balance family and professional life, especially with new babies or family medical conditions that require care when Henry Olson joins us today to discuss this issue. He is senior fellow at the ethics and Public policy Center in Washington DC and a Washington Post columnist. He recently unveiled the findings of a new survey of American voters on paid family leave and we'll send welcome to family policy matters.

First of all, what prompted you to drill down in this issue. Why is the topic you feel is important and needed more study something that is increasingly becoming important public policy proposal by both Pres. Trump and by Democrats. It's something that hasn't been terribly studied a lot but major posters, so there was a gap to fill. Thanks for the ethics and Public policy Center commissioned a study to learn more about American voters opinions unpaid family leave policies. So what did you find what we found generally good American would like to have paid family leave. They would prefer it be offered by employers than by the government definitely would like to be able to have the ability to take time off to care for sick relative or to more commonly care for a newborn man. They don't want huge amounts of time or some European countries that offer six months or year but basically they settle around the three month period is something that they would like somewhere around 12 weeks that they could take up to without having to lose either their job or significant comes out. This cost political lines as well. Right. That's right.

Republicans and Democrats and Independents all support this idea.

One of the surprising aspects of this is that even when you mention the government as being the sponsor or the provider of the paid family leave, you get lots of Republican majority Republicans who supported only a minority would oppose where Republicans might differ from Democrats is that they would prefer that the cost of the government be little but even there you have substantial numbers of publicans would be completely fine with an increase in government expenditures. So in general who do most people think should pay for this. Well, in general, most people would prefer that the employer would pay rather than embed it come from the government exclusively.

They would also prefer that there not be a raise taxes for this course that circumscribes the employer would pay for it would have to come from somewhere, somebody's gonna have to get less so that the people get paid family leave get more and that's not something we asked about with respect to the government there ways that you could try and make it a net neutral impact on the federal budget, but that again comes with winners and losers, and there's not a clear majority in favor of any option significant things did you find in your survey things. It's particularly interesting is how important this is to some key voter groups that Hispanics are particularly favorable to with independent women are kind of off the charts in favor of it and both parties are trying to find a way to court the nonpartisan swing voter woman and this seems to be one policy that would be an important one to have in their arsenals is significant that we seem to be in general agreement on this issue.

I really can't seem to agree on much these days.

It is significant that there is support across the parking boundary for this because her prickly thought that the mass of Republican voters are opposed to any sort of interference of you, whether it's something that a private employer dollars or more, especially on the government. We find that that's not true. So it shows. I think that there are some common values course the devil becomes in the details and tomorrow there is a specific proposal with more discord. There might be. But again, even there. There was large agreement across large segments of the parties something is worth doing, even if my cost little more money.

Okay so you talk about the devil is in the details.

What are some of the things that you're finding that people disagree on that one of the things that's problematic for people in the surveyor's proposal to use Social Security or some proposals that allow you to effectively borrow against your future Social Security but you can get certain amount of leave time. Now if you agree to delay your ability to get the time when you can get Social Security payments in the future.

That was not something that is roughly split when you dig down you find it very interesting is that it was older people who either are close to, or receiving Social Security now largely oppose that people in childbearing age is largely favored which suggest that the issue isn't so much that ability to borrow, but rather in assuring older Americans that you can do this and there's benefits would still be safe, but that was the proposal that along with increasing taxes also did not get a huge support so people don't want to pay higher taxes for this and there's a lot of question about whether you should be able to borrow them Social Security in order to finance this and those are the things that we tested that have the most significant disagreement. I guess he didn't survey this but are you getting any sense. For if business organizations are opposing this in favor that are come down on either side yet you know a lot of businesses offering the benefit already. Whether it is as part of a short-term disability policy were pregnancy and the aftermath is characterized as a short-term disability or independently, but the vast majority of employers are not in particularly the vast majority of small employers. Employers have not really waiting too much. Typically, they prefer somebody else pay for the cost of those benefits. Which means, almost certainly prefer that it come from the government rather than be mandated on them ourselves.

But this is not yet something that the business community has really prioritized or the different parts of the business community. Small versus large movement especially has come to you supposed paid family leave is compatible with the conservative philosophy of small government.

How do we work that out as conservative. Well the choice that I think has to be made which is if you're comfortable with the current system more. Most workers particularly economically vulnerable workers do not have access to this than what you're saying is that we prefer liberty to a position that could strengthen family and improve newborns and we live in a world where we have a large government that's not going to go away anytime soon so I think the better way for conservatives to think about this, is whether or not supporting family and supporting family choices is an appropriate intervention in the context of the system that's going to have intervention when I think on that score, you find that most conservatives will government intervene. We want to intervene on the side of families rather than the inside of liberal programs were special interest okay so widespread or even nationwide family leave policy workable in your opinion and either examples of paid family leave policies that have worked in similar economic systems will pretty much an outlier United States. Most other if not every other country that is developed countries offer some type of government financed paid family leave policy even more conservative countries like Australia have government financed paid family leave policy that covers the first few weeks after birth. So we have lots of evidence to show that it works longer to leave the more expensive it is a matter of course, is problematic that you not only increase taxes in order to pay for that, but you also keep somebody out of the labor force longer and somebody takes a year off to be with her newborn. There your behind when they come back and work with new people and their businesses. Some of their skills made, particularly the technological world be less relevant and that could hurt rather than help. But all these systems are compatible with high levels of employment. High levels of well-being and high levels of economic development, so it's pretty clear that the system can work. The question is whether America once the trade-off somehow manage and what are the biggest challenges descent implementing this paid family leave policy. Most of the other countries that do this do not have some of the strictures that the poll suggests. Americans are particularly conservatives might want to choose that they do tend to add to government expenditure.

So if you're going to try to do it on neutral basis them. The question is what gets phased out in order to pay for this amount would be a very contentious battle. If that were what was going. I also think that one of the large obstacles is the slippery slope argument which is yes you can started 12 weeks, but inevitably it's going to expand as people try and bid for voter support that also is a real issue that there's clearly would be a risk that it could start at three months, but in 15 years. It could be six months or nine months. If that's the way the voters telling them that of course increase costs and increase some of those trade-offs.

So I think those are some challenges addressing how to deal with that deal with the cost deal with. If it's an employer mandate, which seems to be what favored court how to deal with offsetting some of that with respect to the cost, particularly for small businesses so those are some of the challenges is how to make sure that you get the right benefit that is targeted to the right people doesn't displace existing plans to be extent possible and also doesn't cost you mentioned the benefits that can you be a little more specific, or outline a few more. What are the public and social benefits of having paid family leave policy in place a lot of evidence that suggests that newborns particularly do well when they are you breast-fed or are in close proximity to their mother in particular. During the first few months of life, paid family leave makes it possible for mother to do that without sacrificing her job or income to the extent that many paid family leave policies also include fathers or to the extent that it's not possible for woman to spend three months. It also means that a parent can be present, which is also very helpful as opposed to supporting a newborn immediately into a structured personal child care system there is a lot of evidence that that sort of initial bonding is very helpful to trial. Subsequent development of natural paid family leave right course for those of us who are getting older and have friends who are trying to take care see their spouses that have dementia or appearance. This could also be very valuable.

I would think. On the other end of the spectrum as well. What we tend to focus on the newborns because that would be the most frequent use of it, but that's also something that there we could use mentioned to talk to all the people who will be concerned about cost or with respect to Social Security program whether the risk to Social Security for my perceiving is worth the cost effective. There's lots of people who would have to deal with elderly parents who need care or they need to take time off in order to manage their transfer to a structured care setting that's appropriate for them and this would be something that gives them the security of being able to do that to something that just makes family stronger as opposed to mere units that are of equal value was anything else of economic productions paid family leave sent into the current benefits are welfare program structures that we have neatly into it because so many of our welfare programs are need-based in the sense of me based on income their proposals that would make it more like a welfare program and less like an entitlement program and I'll be something that would need to be discussed and one thing that could be done if the government is going to increase expenditures subsidize the pickup of businesses to offer the sort of short-term disability policies that would provide a privately up again many large companies, particularly those serving professional workforces with large numbers of women do this one way to address this would be to do some of the subsidizing private insurance that would use public funds to target more effectively what just about out of time for this week. But before we go where listeners go to learn more about paid family leave and see the survey results that we talked about today are posted on the ethics and Public center website which is EPP see that Edward Paul called Charles.org and you can find of the survey results there as well as videotapes of two events that we've held that discuss the details and also provide some of the counterarguments from a conservative or libertarian perspective Henry Olson you so much for joining us today on family policy matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plaintiff to do it again next week to listen to the show online insulin more about NC families want to inform, encourage and inspire families across a lot of our website it NC family.work that's NC family.org. Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family


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