by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Last week, Florida senator Marco Rubio introduced the Economic Security for New Parents Act, a paid-parental-leave plan. A companion bill is expected from Missouri congresswoman Ann Wagner when the House returns to session in September. And while the two bills differ in some subtle ways, they share a key innovation: Both allow those with a newborn infant or newly adopted child to transfer Social Security retirement benefits from the future to the present.
In the Rubio bill, parents who take the minimum leave of two months would delay their retirement by about three months. (The Social Security Administration would determine the precise length of the delay each year in a way that ensures budget neutrality.) Of course, this has many progressives in a tizzy, with some arguing that it amounts to a “penalty” for having kids and others seeing the seeds of a cynical plan to cannibalize Social Security from within.
These takes aren’t just wrong — they’re exactly backwards. Indeed, in some ways the most stunning thing about the Rubio-Wagner plan is how it reinforces the social-insurance function of Social Security, marking a clear deviation from previous Republican privatization efforts.