During President Trump’s most fabulous super presidential speech to Congress last week, he specified his administration’s desire to “ensure new parents that they have paid family leave.” You could have colored us pink and called us tickled. This was a wonderful notion floated by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and nominee Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. What a major step for Trump! Our little orange pumpkin could be growing up… albeit slowly.
Actually, no. No, he’s not. As good as it sounds, the details of the proposal proves otherwise. Trump’s words at the pulpit were simply a play on words to make us all nod our heads, smile, and follow along. The ACLU reported:
‘But as with all policy proposals, the devil is in the details. If Trump’s proposal continues to reflect what he floated during the presidential campaign — reportedly prompted by his daughter, Ivanka —then it is not in fact for family leave. Rather it’s for maternity leave, for married birth mothers only, making this proposal as inadequate as it is discriminatory.’
So what did Ivanka, Trump’s daughter, propose during the campaign? During the campaign, Trump pushed for guaranteed six weeks of paid maternity leave to mothers. He stated:
‘We need working mothers to be fairly compensated for their work, and to have access to affordable, quality child care for their kids.’
The ACLU noted that very few employers offer paid maternity leave noting “13 percent of private sector employees, and only 6 percent of low-wage workers, have access to any paid family leave through their employers.”
So where are the flaws in the Trump policy, which is so desperately needed by those who want to start families and care for sick family members? The fact that it only provides PARTIAL pay for six weeks’ leave is a start. Like life, things come up. A delivery has a complication either for the child or for the mother. If a child is born prematurely, the care and time required can far exceed six weeks. Furthermore, the plan only proposes paid time leave for maternity. The ACLU noted:
‘It also fails to address serious health conditions for one’s self or for loved ones other than newborns, such as aging parents, young children, or spouses and partners – caregiving work that also falls disproportionately on women.’
Basically, if you want to stay out of bankruptcy, no one is allowed to get sick and require long-term care. Seriously.
Furthermore, it leaves out men when it comes to the birthing and bonding process.
‘Second, it perpetuates sex stereotypes. While workers who have given birth need sufficient time to physically recover, limiting paid leave to mothers perpetuates the notion that only women can or should care for children.’
The ACLU further noted that Trump once bragged he had never changed a diaper and that he described child rearing as “I’ll supply the funds and she’ll take care of the kids.”
The third issue that pops up with Trump’s proposed policy is the fact that benefits would be restricted to MARRIED mothers on top of everyone else. No, it does not take into consideration “dads, non-birth moms in same-sex partnerships, two-dad families, and adoptive parents.” You might as well just add white, Christian, married biological females in the description.
However, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has recently proposed legislation that would allow partially paid leave for caring for a newborn, caring for a sick relative, or for yourself. Furthermore, all businesses regardless of size would be required to do so and everyone (despite how they may identify or gender) would be covered under the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act).
Trump’s acknowledgement of the need for federally mandated paid family leave is a step; however, when looking at the details of his proposal, it’s a step forward that almost seems to take a step back in its acknowledge of only married women. It throws women back into the 1950s when they were considered the sole caretakers of the children. Not to mention it still lacks the acknowledgement that complications do happen, other family members get sick, and men are wholly capable of taking care of sick people too. Trump wouldn’t know that though. He never changed a diaper, and I doubt he ever wiped a snotty nose or cared for a sick wife. I’m going to assume he never held his child’s hand while they had their throat swabbed for strep throat. He just provided the funds for it, right?
Featured image via Getty Images / Mark Wilson.