Trump Budget Includes $19 Billion For State-Sponsored Paid Parental Leave

US Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump holds two babies after his Town Hall address at the Gallogly Events Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 29, 2016. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget cuts funding for many federal programs but also adds at least one that will offer state-sponsored paid leave for new mothers and fathers at a projected cost to the federal government of $19 billion over 10 years.

“As this budget returns us to economic prosperity, it will also allow us to fund additional priorities, including infrastructure, student loan reform, and initiatives to help working families such as paid parental leave,” the Trump budget explanation says. “We will champion the hardworking taxpayers who have been ignored for too long.

“Once we end our economic stagnation and return to robust growth, so many of our aspirations will be within reach,” the budget states.

The portion of the budget that addresses the family leave program, titled “Support Families and Children” and subtitled “The Administration is committed to helping American families and children,” states that it will “provide paid parental leave.”

During his campaign, the President pledged to provide paid family leave to help new parents. The budget delivers on this promise with a fully paid-for proposal to provide six weeks of paid family leave to new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents, so all families can afford to take time to recover from childbirth and bond with a new child without worrying about paying their bills.

Using the unemployment Insurance system as a base, the proposal will allow states to establish paid parental leave programs in a way that is most appropriate for their workforce and economy. States would be required to provide six weeks of parental leave and the proposal gives States broad latitude to design and finance the program. The proposal is fully offset by a package of sensible reforms to the [unemployment] system—including reforms to reduce improper payments, help unemployed workers and jobs more quickly, and encourage States to maintain reserves in their unemployment Trust Fund accounts. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress on legislation to make paid parental leave a reality for families across the Nation.

The media is finding fault with this and other portions of Trump’s proposed budget, including Politico, which included the family leave program in its analysis of it under the heading “Spending More Than Promised.”

“Despite the emphasis on cost cutting, the White House is actually proposing to spend more on some of its major policy priorities, showing a willingness to sign off on direct spending for things like infrastructure investment and health care access for veterans,” Politico reported on Tuesday. “Over 10 years, the administration expects its plan for state-sponsored family leave to cost the federal government $19 billion.”

National Public Radio refers to the family leave program as “a new entitlement,” with “mandatory” compliance by states.

“And while the plan does call for cutting ‘improper payments’ from the unemployment program — which the budget says could allow some states to cut unemployment payroll taxes — it could also … require states to raise unemployment taxes,” NPR reported. “The potential for raising taxes on employers is something that would definitely give congressional Republicans some pause.”

The NPR story published on Tuesday quotes Marc Goldwein, senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

“This [proposal] seems very doable,” Goldwein said. “It’s just surprising to see them put forward a tax increase.”

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