Where Ivanka Trump's Advocacy For Parental Leave Falls Short

July 5th 2017

Mike Rothschild

First daughter Ivanka Trump has taken her advocacy for parental leave to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal.


It's a signature issue for the first daughter, and she's managed to persuade her father to set aside $25 billion in federal funds for up to six weeks of paid parental leave in the White House draft budget.

Both Trump and the Journal agree on the need for paid time off for new parents, a benefit that every other industrialized nation in the world offers, other than the United States. But beyond that, the two parties have foundational differences in how paid family leave should be implemented, and more importantly, who should be paying it out.

In keeping with its generally conservative inclinations, the Journal wrote in its May 25th unsigned op-ed that by including Trump's proposal in his budget, Trump seeks "to start a bidding war for government family benefits." Noting that small entitlements rarely stay that way, the Journal calls the details of the plan "messy" and asserts that the market can do a better job than the government at providing leave for new parents. "A growing and dynamic economy will lead to more generous employee benefits than Mr. Trump’s proposed political redistribution," it concludes.

Trump doesn't disagree that private industry will play a role in a strong family leave program, but also wrote this week that she believes that "a national paid-leave benefit [is] the necessary floor from which private sector companies and state governments can build."

Citing the benefits of paid leave as "healthier children and parents in more tightly bonded families, greater financial stability, and stronger attachment to the labor force," Trump writes that her father's budget will also help solve the gender pay gap by reducing the disparity in time that men and women are away from work.

There are short-comings to both sides arguments.


In its op-ed, the Journal cites existing examples of paid family leave being provided by companies like Netflix, extolling them "as an example of how more American businesses should operate." While the number of companies offering paid leave has grown since 2014, as ATTN: reported in February, only 21 percent of large companies offer paid leave to both new mothers and fathers.

And, while the six weeks Trump is stumping for are six weeks more than the U.S. offers now, it would still be the stingiest benefit offered by any industrialized government. Slate also pointed out another quibble with the plan, that it would be available to high income earners who don't necessarily need the benefit. There's another hurdle facing Trump's plan: Republicans hate it, and will likely remove it from the final budget.

So where should supporters of government provided parental leave look for hope? Right now, it's the states that are stepping up.

Andrew Cuomo

Right now, only three states provided paid family leave: California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. But that's changing.

Just in the time between the Journal's op-ed and Trump's response, Washington State signed a paid family leave law, and New York issued final regulations for the law it passed in the spring.