Republicans, some of them at least, have finally come into the current century and stopped proposing that mothers stay home to raise children and care for ailing family members as the solution to the need for paid family leave. But the plan proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio, that people take an early draw down of their Social Security benefits to fund a period of family leave, is a terrible idea. Republicans are eager, always, to bend the system in favor of the rich, whom they call “job creators”. When it comes to families of lesser means, the mantra of “personal responsibility” takes over. People are pretty much on their own.
My late husband and I had a financial planning firm in Rochester, NY, for 20 years. Over that time we saw firsthand how many Americans, even those with good jobs, have no savings and very little by way of assets to support them in retirement. There are lots of statistics around to add to that observation, like these from an article on CNN Money: 40% of Americans don’t have $400 to cover and emergency expense without needing to borrow. And 25% have no retirement savings at all.
For many Americans, especially women who entered the work force later and earned less than their male counterparts, Social Security forms the bulk of retirement income. We’re also living longer, which means that whatever savings we might have need to stretch even farther. If Republicans remain in power in Congress, the “security” of Social Security and Medicare is likely to be reduced even more. Taking Social Security at a young age to fund family leave, even a small part of future benefits, is a perilous idea.
Most developed countries recognize the need for paid family leave and provide it. The U.S. is an outlier in resisting, or in saying, as Republicans do, “it’s all on you.”