To ensure a better future for generations to come, we must align our economic policies to support strong communities, strong families, and dignified work. That is why we are making an investment in our families – in our nation’s future – and introducing a national paid family leave policy.
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The New Parents Act will empower new parents by giving them the financial security and flexibility they need to start a family. Unlike other approaches, our plan does not raise taxes on working families – the very people we are trying to help – nor does it place burdensome mandates on small businesses.
With just over one in 10 workers receiving paid family leave from their employers, many new parents struggle with the financial security of starting a family. Sadly, too many new parents, especially those with low incomes, are forced to take on new debt or rely on welfare programs just to pay for their basic living costs after having a child.
The problem of financial insecurity in childbirth doesn’t just affect new families’ pocketbooks. Reduced birth weight and negative cognitive outcomes for children, as well as increased family instability are progressively more concentrated among middle- and working-class families. These problems not only threaten the ability of younger Americans to start families, but they also weaken the very institution of healthy families itself.
Our proposal would let new parents voluntarily pull forward a portion of their Social Security benefits for one, two, or three months of paid parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child. In exchange, parents can either choose to delay their retirement by about six months per child, or receive a reduced Social Security benefit of equal size during their first five years of retirement.
Like Social Security, our proposal would be most generous to working-class families. Nearly all parents below the median household income of roughly $60,000 will be able to take time off and still collect at least two-thirds of their monthly income. Many parents, especially those with low incomes, will be able to finance three months of leave with the benefit at wage replacement rates at or near their current incomes.
Importantly, our proposal offers maximum flexibility so families can determine what type of leave works best for them. Unlike other paid parental leave proposals, under our proposal, the benefit would be transferable between parents in the household and available to working and stay-at-home moms and dads alike.
Consider two parents, one an electrician and the other a teacher, both earning the national median wage for their jobs of about $40,000 per year. Under our plan, if one parent took two weeks off from work at 100 percent of their income, then the other parent could afford to take two months off at over 120 percent of their income, or three months off at 80 percent of their income.
We have worked carefully to ensure that this plan would not affect current or future earned retirement benefits of workers not taking the option it provides, and that the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund is maintained.
As Congress debates the best path forward on paid family leave, we hope our colleagues will consider the benefits our pro-family, pro-worker proposal would have for millions of working-class moms and dads. Raising a child and being home for the first critical months of a newborn’s life is the most important job anyone will ever have, and it is time that we have a national policy that reflects that reality.
Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, introduced the legislation – called the New Parents Act – in the Senate, while Ann Wagner, R-Mo., and Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, introduced a version of the bill in the House.