More than 80 percent of Americans support paid family leave but, as of now, the Democrats’ Build Back Better agenda will not include it, according to both Politico and CNN. This breaks a major Joe Biden campaign promise and means the US will remain one of just six countries in the world—and the only rich country—that does not have a national paid leave policy.
Americans will be left to rely on their employers for these benefits, and their employers often opt out: Just 23% of private sector workers have paid family leave, or 11 percent of part-time workers and 27 percent of full-time workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The average paid maternity leave globally is 29 weeks, and the average paid paternity leave is 16 weeks, according to the New York Times. President Biden’s initial plan, 12 paid weeks for anyone who needs time to care for a new baby or an ailing family member, looked paltry by comparison.
But West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, the supposedly Democratic houseboat-living jackass who said in January that he supported up to $4 trillion in infrastructure spending, has recently refused to support an economic package larger than $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Rather than cut paid leave altogether, Democrats floated a “compromise” of just 4 weeks—nevermind that daycares don’t accept babies that young and people who had C-sections can’t drive until 6 weeks—but Manchin was still a no on Wednesday.
“To expand social programs when you have trust funds that aren’t solvent, they’re going insolvent. I can’t explain that. It doesn’t make sense to me” he told CNN. “I want to work with everyone as long as we can start paying for things. That’s all. I can’t put this burden on my grandchildren. I’ve got 10 grandchildren ... I just can’t do it.”
By trying to prevent one burden on his grandchildren, he is saddling them, and every other American, with another: the choice between paying their bills or caring for their families in times of need. (Notably, he’s also screwing over his grandchildren by demanding weakened climate change proposals.)
CNN’s headline reads: “Paid leave falls out of Democratic package in urgent scramble to secure Manchin’s support.” But it didn’t fall out, Joe Manchin pushed it out, and Joe Biden so far is letting him do it. For all the early comparisons to FDR, Joe Biden ain’t it.
It appears the fight may not be over as Senator Patty Murray of Washington told reporters: “We are not going to allow one or two men to tell women, millions of them in this country, that they can’t have paid leave.” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said she would take to the Senate floor tonight to pitch Manchin on her latest proposal. She said in a statement: “Until the bill is printed, I will continue working to include paid leave in the Build Back Better plan.” Good luck with that, girl.
The Supreme Court is set to decimate Roe v. Wade and allow states to restrict abortion even earlier in pregnancy, so we are in fact staring down the barrel of (more) state-mandated childbirth with no state-mandated leave to recover from that birth.