- The political movement that wants to bill itself the "parents' party" still has a tendency to tie itself to old attitudes about the role of government rather than respond to what parents actually want. Tweet This
- The best way to deliver for families is to offer a universal, modest benefit for all parents, regardless of work status. Tweet This
Last month, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) summed up the conventional wisdom among too many Republicans when it comes to family policy. "People decide to have families and become parents, that's something they need to consider when they make that choice," Johnson told a local TV station. "I've never really felt it was society's responsibility to take care of other people's children."
Sen. Johnson's blunt yet revealing comments reflected a certain strain of economic conservatism that emphasizes individual responsibility to the exclusion of mutual responsibility. The political movement that wants to bill itself the "parents' party" still has a tendency to tie itself to old attitudes about the role of government rather than respond to what parents actually want.
In a new research brief, published by the Institute for Family Studies and the Ethics and Public Policy Center, I talked to parents and dug into polling around the issue of paid leave. My conclusion is that the best way to deliver for families is to offer a universal, modest benefit for all parents, regardless of work status. For families, the biggest benefit of a universal approach to parental benefits would be its simplicity. Among the parents I talked to, a common complaint about our current employer-based approach to paid leave was the feeling of getting trapped in bureaucracy. "It was just so confusing," said one Texas mom, whose first child was born while she was a contract worker. "[You] just don't know what your options are, who to talk to [or] what you need to do.... It's frustrating."
Polling data back up the anecdotes I heard. Analyzing data made available by the Pew Research Center, I found that most liberals and moderates believe the government should play a role in guaranteeing access to paid leave. Conservatives, unsurprisingly, tended to favor letting employers decide for themselves—with one key exception.
Continue reading at Newsweek . . .