Donald Trump has released his paid parental leave plan, which, like most things Trump, is insulting to women and woefully inadequate.
The Trump plan offers 6 weeks’ paid leave for new parents. You could argue that this is better than nothing, which is how much paid leave American parents are guaranteed at the moment, but it’s clear that he just kind of threw this plan together in between tweeting gems like:
Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do –everybody does. ObamaCare is dead! But our healthcare will soon be great
Well, he’s right about the first part. Because, let’s be honest:
Six weeks of leave is a joke.
Six weeks is barely enough time to recover from shoving a baby out of your hoo-ha in the standard fashion. You’ll need longer if you’ve had a caesarean section or complications.
At six weeks postpartum, you’re so exhausted you’re barely functioning. Your boobs are leaking. You’ve barely had a chance to get acquainted with the very small person that you’re now responsible for. And they need you. They may not even have discovered their hands yet, FFS. This plan gives exactly zero fucks about what the baby’s needs are.
And here’s the other big problem:
The program would be funded by the already underfunded unemployment insurance system.
Trump’s team has yet to release how much money parents would actually receive, but unemployment payments tend to be quite small – about 50% of a person’s paycheck. That’s not going to be enough to cover a mother’s expenses while she’s off on leave. And her medical bills from giving birth are likely to be high, because, you know, no Obamacare. So she’s probably going to be worse off financially than she would have been if Trump had just kept his comically small hands out of all these government programs in the first place.
This whole funding-parental-leave-with-unemployment-money idea isn’t new. Apparently Clinton tried this back in the 90s and it eventually got shut down because it violated federal law. Unemployment benefits require people to be available to work – and people on parental leave aren’t available to work. The Trump administration would have to overturn that ruling before they could even get this plan going – and then they’d still have to tackle the fact that each state’s unemployment system is totally different.
Good luck with that.
In the end, what it really comes down to is this:
New parents deserve better. A lot better.
We need time off heal to our bodies and adjust to our babies, and we shouldn’t go broke while we’re doing it.
Lots of countries get this. Sweden. Denmark. Norway. Lithuania.
Yeah, that’s right. Lithuania. Who would have thought, right? But new mums in Lithuania get 18 weeks of fully paid leave, dads get four weeks, and then they get an additional 156 weeks to share. For the shared portion, the parents can either have it paid out at 100% until the child turns one, or 70% until the child is one, and then 40% until the child is two. The rest of the weeks are unpaid.
The world would be a better place if we were all a little bit more Lithuanian.
Top image © Michael Vadon