Paid Leave

A Federal Paid Leave Program Would Be a Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem

The calls to implement such a plan are based on incorrect assumptions and a passive media.


If you're a politician peddling big new government programs for which there is little need but hefty price tags, you need a clever marketing strategy. At the least, your sales pitch could use a decent soundbite. Such marketing is what the Biden administration with its friends in Congress and the media are doing when insisting that the drop in women's labor force participation during the pandemic requires implementing a policy of federal paid family leave.

Don't buy it.

First, temporary problems should never be addressed with permanent government expansions. Women have dramatically fallen out of the labor force, and unemployment rates have skyrocketed because of a once-in-a-century pandemic followed by state and local governments locking down the economy. The reality, fortunately, is that this virus will soon be in the rearview mirror, and the economy is now quickly reopening. Once labor unions agree to let K-12 public schools reopen five days a week in the fall, all should be back to normal. As such, there's no reason to use a temporary hardship to saddle taxpayers with a permanently bad deal.

I understand why this advice is rarely followed. After all, "never letting a crisis go to waste" is a good strategy for those in power to exploit the distress of the American people to create programs that can't be pushed through during normal times.

Second, the call to implement new programs to address the fact that women are still hurting from the pandemic is based on incorrect assumptions and a passive media.

Heritage Foundation scholar Rachel Greszler looks at the data and finds that, while the pandemic and the accompanied lockdowns caused more women than men to lose jobs and drop out of the labor force initially, this is no longer the case. For instance, Greszler writes: "Initially, women's employment fell by 17.9 percent, and men's employment fell by 14.3 percent, from February 2020 to April 2020…In March 2021, women's employment was down 4.9 percent, and men's employment was down 5.0 percent, from what they had been in February 2020….but now women's employment losses are 500,000 fewer than men's."

She also finds that between "February and April 2020, the number of men participating in the labor force fell by 4.3 percent, while the number of women participating in the labor force fell by 5.5 percent." Yet, women essentially closed that gap by March 2021 as "the number of men in the labor force [was] down 2.3 percent (2.0 million) and the number of women [was] down 2.4 percent (1.9 million)." Here's the kicker: "Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, women's earning have increased by more than twice the rate of men's."

Apparently, no fact-checking is necessary anymore before burdening taxpayers with billions in new spending.

I should be used to such opportunistic policymaking since the favorite pre-pandemic talking point by those who wanted to implement a federal paid leave program was that the United States doesn't offer paid leave for workers. Yet, this claim is bunk. While the United States government doesn't have a federal paid leave program, government surveys show that some 65 percent of American workers nevertheless have access to some form of paid leave. In fact, the absence of a federal program means we are also a country with a vast and expanding network of companies that provide benefits like paid leave programs that are flexible, accommodating and often more generous than the plan some liberals and conservatives have in mind.

The irony is that this pandemic has forced employers and employees to try new workplace arrangements and use technology in ways that could lead to a major shake-up in the flexibility afforded to parents who must both work and take care of children. Implementing one-size-fits-all government policies now could stop this transformation as employers might feel better able to require employees to work on-site.

In fact, rather than return to the pre-COVID and limited work arrangements, the administration and state governments should promote more flexibility in the workplace by removing the regulatory barriers that make raising a family harder. Two such changes would be to eliminate occupational licensing for child care workers and to let employees be paid in the form of additional leave time for their overtime work.

There are many more nongovernmental ideas for helping workers, and even more to be discovered. Let's pursue them, rather than ram through a federal paid leave program.


NEXT: Congressional Democrats Waffle on Qualified Immunity

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  1. “and a passive media.”

    No, the media is quite active as the propaganda arm of the Democrat party.

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    2. The silence of the media on many topics is deafening.

      Simultaneous unemployment and labor shortage, crime in Atlanta, Biden’s mental lapses, etc, etc.

      Suddenly the media is OK with unexplained mysteries.

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  2. Eventually, everybody will have “leave.” Permanently. Forever. And I am sure some economist somewhere will try to convince us that this will actually make the economy grow faster, and create more wealth for everybody. Yeah. That’s the ticket. I’ll go with that.

    1. I’m interested in your theories and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  3. It’s called buying votes, aka “bribing you with your own money”. Remember how they said if you voted for Jon Ossof and Rapheal Warnock that you’d get a $2,000 check? Yeah, it’s like that. It’s got nothing to do with unemployment or families needing help, it’s simply about solving the problem that the Democrats are afraid they might not be able to cheat as blatantly as they did the last time and need a back-up source of votes.

    1. Remember when Reason said nothing about the Georgia runoff elections until after they were over?

      That was textbook “passive media” in action.

    2. You got it, JK. No matter the statistics, there are still a million or more votes to be harvested, and while this bill will get bi-partisan support (“The GOP can’t be seen as being against women and children”), the voters who appreciate the new paid leave will support the Dems. Doesn’t Santa get all the credit for what his elves built?

  4. “A Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem” should be the tagline to Government: The Movie. Since the ratification of the Bill of Rights, almost everything the US government has done is a more or less permanent solution to a temporary problem.

    1. ^THIS +1000000000000000000000
      Except the word “solution” is a massive misnomer.

      Perhaps, “A Permanent CURSE to a Temporary Imagined Drama”.

      1. Government: The Movie: The Sequel?
        or maybe
        Government 2: Electric Boogaloo? Does that joke get me put on a watchlist? I didn’t say anything about woodchippers so I should be safe.

  5. You’re missing the point. It’s not about solving a temporary problem, it’s about making the temporary problem permanent.

  6. “While the United States government doesn’t have a federal paid leave program, government surveys show that some 65 percent of American workers nevertheless have access to some form of paid leave. ”

    And yet a slew of other countries have it where 100% of citizens get paid leave. And surprise surprise, they haven’t fallen in the ocean and rate far, far higher on the happiness index.

    But hey, that might require people like the Koch fucks to pay nominally more in taxes which is just absurd right? Keep licking those boots.

    1. But they all want to immigrate here for some mysterious reason.

    2. Agreed the amoral billionaires that fist you can pay for it.

    3. “And yet a slew of other countries have it where 100% of citizens get paid leave. And surprise surprise, they haven’t fallen in the ocean and rate far, far higher on the happiness index.”

      Ah, yes, the “happiness index”! When you don’t have data, offer bullshit; it’s the lefty shit’s way!

    4. Get ’em! They’re rich! You’re envy is showing.

    5. happiness index? another bullshit term to help politicians steal your money and get them reelected

    6. boot lickers? thats funny coming from a marxist cock sucker who can’t wait to stand on your neck to coerce you to pay their happiness index tax

  7. Face it, the calls to Implement such a plan are based on a deep desire to involve the State in matters that are absolutely none of its goddamned business.

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  11. In order to Build Back Better you must first destroy the existing structure. In America, that structure is the middle class.

    To do this, implement UBI to incentivize people to stay home, as this will destroy small businesses, the middle class, and thus lead to a welfare state.

    When society is on the dole, you then federalize industry through unions, and there you’ll find your good paying union jobs for ALL Americans. This means all Americans. No able worker left behind. Rest up, chickadees!

    In the end, we’re all slaves to the global supply chain. Our abilities will be decided by people other than ourselves along with our needs. Self-determination will be an idea of the past and we’ll own nothing. But, as I’m told, we’ll all be Happy! Thanks, Klaus!

  12. “Yet, this claim is bunk. While the United States government doesn’t have a federal paid leave program, government surveys show that some 65 percent of American workers nevertheless have access to some form of paid leave.”

    So you call a claim bunk and prove it’s true?

    All workers should have paid leave, and 35% not have any is a huge chunk. Not to mention “some form” is doing some heavy lifting there. A lot of it is grossly inadequate to what most other developed nations offer.

    And then you dishonestly imply there’s plans to bar companies from offering better than what the federal program does.

    I guess when you don’t have any good arguments…

  13. The stated objective of these policies is to make and keep men and women both full time participants in the workforce, while transferring the education and moral instruction of children into the hands of the state. “Family leave policies” are part of this, since early infancy is still handled privately.

    Democrats aren’t hiding these objectives. Biden even goes around quoting Mao on the status of women in society. It’s basic socialist policy.

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