During her father’s first interview after his Election Night victory, “60 Minutes” reporter Lesley Stahl said to Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka: “People think that you’re going to be part of the administration, Ivanka.”
“I’m — no,” Ivanka Trump responded. “I’m going to be a daughter. But I’ve — I’ve said throughout the campaign that I am very passionate about certain issues. And that I want to fight for them… Wage equality, childcare. These are things that are very important for me. I’m very passionate about education. Really promoting more opportunities for women. So you know, there’re a lot of things that I feel deeply, strongly about. But not in a formal administrative capacity.”
During her speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Americans got a glimpse of what Ivanka has in mind when it comes to both priorities. During her speech, Ivanka discussed both, saying:
“Women represent 46 percent of the total U.S. labor force, and 40 percent of American households have female primary breadwinners. In 2014, women made 83 cents for every dollar made by a man. Single women without children earn 94 cents for each dollar earned by a man, whereas married mothers made only 77 cents. As researchers have noted, gender is no longer the factor creating the greatest wage discrepancy in this country, motherhood is.
“As President, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all.”
For most conservatives listening, the speech was unlike anything we’ve heard on an RNC stage; and not in a good way. In National Review, Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) provided some much needed perspective for the auditioning First Daughter, whose talking points sounded more like a Hillary surrogate’s than a Republicans’. She wrote,
“Ivanka succeeded in showing the audience that Republicans care about these issues, rather than just allowing the Left and Hillary Clinton to dominate discussions about women in the workplace… There are dozens of conservative policy reforms that can help women, including providing more protection for equal pay, without encouraging frivolous litigation or needlessly growing government. Similarly on childcare, Ivanka correctly noted that childcare expenses are a major burden for too many working women and more needs to be done to help parents, particularly those with lower incomes, for whom childcare expenses can eat up the bulk of after-tax earnings.”
Coming out of the gate during the first 100 days of his administration, there are any number of policy goals on the to-do list for Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress. For many on the Right, we’ve struggled for a long time to recapture the narrative from liberals that it’s possible to care about families and women, and care for them, without adding additional government, bureaucracy and red tape. If Ivanka and her father are serious about enacting reforms that would help women and families, they could turn to a proposal from IWF on Personal Care Accounts (PCAs) for inspiration.
The concept is similar to health savings accounts. Instead of adding to government-funded mandates in the form of universal paid leave, suppose employees and employers could add tax-free to savings accounts which could then be used for when employees need to take family leave of any kind — if a parent is sick, if a baby is born, or if a child is adopted. Any leftover money could then be rolled over into a retirement account; encouraging more savings for individuals who might have hit their maximum contribution limits on retirement accounts.
Those in the upper and middle class could immediately see relief from the financial crunch that having a family crisis or addition can bring. But what about those at the bottom of the tax bracket? IWF encourages private charities to fill the gap, eliminating the expense of bureaucracy and middlemen that would have otherwise interfered had government taken this role instead.
But would private individuals be able to fill this gap? Lukas thinks so. “A $5,000 PCA for the poorer half of those mothers would require about $7 billion,” she wrote. “That’s a big number, but not so incredible when you consider that charitable giving in the United States exceeded $350 billion in 2014.”
Although no single proposal or initiative can solve the crisis for many American families regarding the financial pressures of balancing home life and work life; IWF’s proposal would be an important first step towards allowing Americans to be stewards of their own financial security instead of relying on more government intervention.
If the Trump administration is looking to highlight its commitment to America’s women and families, a role traditionally owned by liberals, while still remaining committed to the free-market, alleviating some of this pressure via PCAs would be an important first step.