Exclusive–Bill Cassidy: Paid Family Leave Pro-Family, Pro-Business, Pro-American

Tess Finnegan poses with her family on December 12, 2017, in Washington, DC. The US economy is nearing full employment, with its jobless rate the lowest in almost 20 years, but women in the workforce don't fully benefit. Due to the lack of widely available and affordable child care and …
AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told Breitbart News Thursday in an exclusive interview that Republicans should embrace paid family leave because it helps the family and small businesses.

Sen. Cassidy, a doctor and one of the Senate’s foremost experts on health care, has led the way on paid family leave, a rising issue for Republicans. President Donald Trump announced during his State of the Union address that he will work to implement a paid family leave plan. White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump continues to work with Republicans across the spectrum on the issue.

Breitbart News has spoken with Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) about their paid family leave bill, the Cradle Act, which would allow Americans to use their Social Security benefits to access family leave without any additional cost to the taxpayer. The Social Security Administration (SSA) examined the financial impact of the legislation and found that the bill would have a “negligible effect” on the long-range health of Social Security.

Sen. Cassidy made headlines in April at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) when he announced he will work with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) on a bipartisan paid family proposal that could pass through Congress and that President Trump could support.

The Lousiana Republican said that he continues to work to make sure that his proposal would not incur any additional taxes or impose any additional burdens on businesses. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s  (D-NY) proposal would pay for paid family leave by increasing payroll taxes, which Cassidy slammed as hurting low-income Americans and increasing businesses’ cost of hiring.

Cassidy said he would target his proposal towards low-income “people that need it the most.”

Paid family leave has garnered support across the political spectrum.

Support for paid family leave crosses over partisan lines. A poll from the PL+US Fund organization found that Americans highly approved of paid family leave. A survey showed that 94 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of Republicans, and 83 percent of Independents support some form of paid family leave.

During the interview, Sen. Cassidy described paid family leave as a common-sense “kitchen-table” issue that resonates with the average American working family. The Lousiana senator said that Republicans should be the party of paid family leave because paid family leave represents the conservative values of helping the American family, businesses, and the country.

Cassidy told Breitbart News, “One, we’re pro-life, and this is very pro-life– in the sense that studies show that the outcomes as a child are much better if the child has the ability for it to bond with parents, particularly the mom, it the first weeks of his or her life. Secondly, we’re pro-family, and this is a kitchen-table issue: ‘Wait, do I have to quit my work to raise my child? No, I don’t have to, because I can actually take some time off and we can still make ends meet and go back to work.'”

“Next, we’re pro-business. Think of a small business as invested in training a parent, someone who’s invested a lot of time and training in having them become a better employee, hopefully setting the stage for them to assume greater responsibility, but then that person has to quit to care for their child and does not come back to the workforce. All the effort you made to train the employee is then lost. So it’s pro-employee that we create the ability for the parents to stay attached to the employer,” Sen. Cassidy continued. 

Cassidy mentioned that the paid family leave would reduce American dependence on other public assistance programs such as food stamps.

A Rutgers University study in 2012 confirmed this contention, which found that women who take paid leave remain 39 percent less likely to receive public assistance and 40 percent less likely to receive food stamps in the year following her child’s birth when compared to those who do not take any leave.

Debra Ness, the president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, said in 2012:

At a time when governments are struggling with deficits and working families are struggling to stay afloat, this new study shows that allowing workers to take paid time off to recover from illness or care for their families saves precious government and taxpayer resources, while giving families the stability they urgently need.

Cassidy explained that paid family leave could end up as a net-benefit for Social Security, saying, “We assume that there is a ten-year cost to this program, but there is a strong school of thought that in the out-years that there may not might be a cost for what you said that there will be less dependence on public programs. Secondly, as you strengthen the attachment to the workforce, that parent who instead of leaving the workforce remains attached, gets that promotion that she otherwise not have received because she retired, to cover that promotion she earns more money, because she earns more money, she pays more in payroll taxes, and in turn you do better financially for Social Security because you have the program. That needs to be worked out but that would be a great study.”

“Lastly, we are pro-American. Let’s go back to the employee. She has developed expertise, she might be poised to get a promotion, has a child, and then does not return to the workforce, or she returns two years later. All that opportunity to advance in life in the workplace has been lost and I do think we do need to make this work for everybody. And I do think that would make this work better for everyone in the economy,” Cassidy added.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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