Let’s not waste bipartisan support for paid family leave in Congress

A growing body of research drawing on state-level paid family and medical leave policies shows that these programs can be both effective and affordable. This is true not only for paid parental leave but also for leave covering one’s own serious illness and leave to care for an ailing loved one.

As Equitable Growth’s executive director and chief economist, Heather Boushey, writes in a new column posted by The Hill, the evidence suggests that paid family leave to care for a seriously ill loved one should be a federal policy priority that both parties can agree on and, indeed, both parties have expressed support for such an initiative.

Boushey has been serving as a member of an ideologically diverse group convened by the American Enterprise Institute and The Brookings Institution with the goal of identifying a set of policy principles on paid family and medical leave. She writes that the group, unfortunately, was not able to reach a consensus despite the demographic and labor force trends that point to a growing need and evidence that such programs at the state level work and are affordable. Moreover, the public is strongly supportive of such a plan.

She concludes:

“Bipartisanship is a terrible thing to waste. We have a moment to seize. Let’s not let the need for unattainably perfect evidence impede the progress that’s possible for all working families.

“As the United States crafts a paid leave plan, we must not leave anyone behind. More evidence can help us perfect a plan, but surely we should all be able to agree that there’s enough to get started.”

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