Sen. Rubio’s Paid Family Leave Plan Tied to Social Security

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By Genevieve Douglas

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) announced Aug. 1 a proposal for both the Senate and House to create a federal paid family leave program using Social Security contribution deductions.

Rubio said he will introduce the Economic Security for New Parents Act in the Senate this week, while Wagner’s version in the House will be introduced in September, according to a statement on Rubio’s website that links to an op-ed authored by the lawmakers. The bill would give new parents the option to pull a portion of their future Social Security benefits to finance paid parental leave. In exchange for delaying their retirement by three to six months, participants would receive a benefit roughly equal to the amount they’re giving up later, according to Rubio and Wagner.

The plan to use Social Security benefits as a vehicle for national paid family leave was first discussed by Sens. Rubio, Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in February, and Rubio again announced plans to introduce legislation July 5.

Some conservative groups have balked at the proposal’s projected cost to Social Security funds. Calculations from the American Action Forum show that the original proposal from the Independent Women’s Forum—on which Rubio’s plan is likely based—would cost $10.5 billion in 2019 and $227.6 billion from 2019 to 2034. About $226.2 billion (99.4 percent) of the program’s cost would be a net cost to the Social Security Trust Funds before the Trust Funds’ exhaustion, and this would result in moving forward the projected 2034 exhaustion date by about six months, the AAF said.

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