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July 17 2019

Dems Want Another Chunk of Your Paycheck

Townhall
featuring Kristin A. Shapiro

Democrats see your paycheck as fair game for their endless social improvement projects. Every Democrat vying for the White House backs federal legislation that would guarantee workers nearly three months of paid family medical leave every year to care for newborns and the sick. Sounds wonderful. Who doesn't want to work nine months a year and get paid for 12? The issue is, Who pays? These pols want to force you to pay with a hefty federal payroll tax.

That's bad news for single guys who are unlikely to take leave but will have to pay the tax anyway. Ditto for older people who've already raised their kids and don't want their paycheck shrunk to fund someone else's parenting. It's also a raw deal for employees who already get paid leave from their job; they'd also have their paychecks shaved for something they don't need.

To see the unfairness, take a look at laws being passed in several states controlled by Democrats. In the last six weeks, Oregon and Connecticut enacted laws entitling workers to 12 weeks paid leave per year -- not just when a baby is born but also to care for grandparents, siblings and even close friends with no blood relation, all funded by taking a bite out of every worker's paycheck.

New York and several other states already passed similar laws. New York's law, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2016, recklessly empowers the state to tax paychecks at whatever rate is needed to keep the program afloat.

 
Not that Republicans are against caring for family. In Congress, support for family leave is bipartisan. The big divide is on who foots the bill.

Most Democrats support the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, which preposterously claims a minuscule 0.2% payroll tax will be enough to fund paid leave. Don't believe this fairy tale math. It presumes no more people will take leave once it's paid for than those who take it now.

A realistic estimate by labor economist Ben Gitis of the American Action Forum shows the tax would have to be as high as 2.9%. Ouch. Imagine paying nearly 3% of your gross income for a family leave plan you're unlikely to ever use.

Of course, we all know co-workers who will abuse it big time, always having a sick friend so they can get a 12-week paid vacation. The best way to discourage this is to require people taking leave to have skin in the game.

A plan sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., does just that. Workers who want paid leave can borrow against their own future Social Security benefits instead of making us pay. A young mother could take two months of paid leave in exchange for delaying her retirement benefits for a month decades later. The math works because benefits collected early in her working career are likely to be smaller than retirement benefits collected after her peak earning years.

This sound idea originated with the Independent Women's Forum.

Predictably, Democrats are bashing it because it doesn't accomplish their real agenda, wealth redistribution. They want a scheme that taxes high earners to pay for everyone else. For example, New York's payroll tax is uncapped, even though medical leave pay is capped at what the average worker in the state earns.

Democrats are also using paid leave to woo women voters. But be aware: According to Pew Research, countries that guarantee the most paid leave have the widest gender pay gaps. Employers compensate by promoting fewer women.

Democrats say no one should have to choose between getting a paycheck and taking care of loved ones. Don't be misled. The real choice is whether you can keep your paycheck to benefit your own family or have to surrender it to pay for liberal pipe dreams like "free college" and "free" family leave.


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Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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