Democrat 2020 candidate Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke at MoveOn.org’s “Big Ideas” forum in San Francisco Saturday and called for the implementation of a “Family Bill of Rights.”
The Democrat senator from New York pushed a national paid family leave program, painting an ominous picture of American families choosing between a paycheck and caring for a loved one in dire need.
“So let me tell you the problem,” Gillibrand said. “Every worker in America– every single one– is going to have a moment in life when they have a crippling decision to make.”
“Do they bring home a paycheck or do they care for a loved one who needs their help urgently?” she asked.
She described the lack of an answer as a “drag” on the economy.
“I can tell you that this is a real problem that affects everyone. It’s also a major drag on the economy,” she said. “Because [of] the absence of paid leave, it costs us $20 billion a year.”
She floated her solution, which involves a national paid leave bill “that actually works.”
“It doesn’t cost a lot of money. It’s an earned benefit just like Social Security,” Gillibrand said. “It costs about $2 a week for the average worker. That’s the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and your employer matches it.”
She said her plan would give individuals the ability to take up to three months off when needed.
Gillibrand said her solution “makes so much sense” and rhetorically asked the crowd what stands in the way. She answered her own question by subtly accusing male dominated legislatures of failing to represent the population well. She accused them of dismissing it as a purely “women’s issue.”
Despite her dismissive remarks, she attempted to bring both sides of the aisle together by noting Trump’s purported support for such a bill.
“The good news is we’re far closer than we ever were before,” Gillibrand explained.
“Even Republicans support it. Even President Trump states in his State of the Union. His ideas about how to get there are not very good, but at least he thinks we need national paid leave,” she added.
Gillibrand said we shouldn’t stop there and called for everyone to embrace her “entire” platform ideas, including “The Family Bill of Rights.” She described it as a “fundamental” piece of legislation that helps “all parents.”
According to Gillibrand, it would ensure safe pregnancy, access to be a parent, access to fertility treatments, baby bundles, national paid leave, universal pre-k, and affordable daycare.
“Common sense. Simple solutions,” Gillibrand said.
During the Q&A session following her speech, Gillibrand took her remarks a step further and described national paid family leave as a “racial justice issue.”
“This very much is a racial justice issue, because the truth is a lot of our lowest wage earners are women and women of color,” she said, later noting her support for Democrat Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s bill, which focuses on “studying” reparations.
Watch the entire event from MoveOn: