DAVE & DUJANOVIC

The Cradle Act: Mike Lee’s plan to ensure paid family leave for all new parents

Mar 13, 2019, 2:42 PM | Updated: Mar 15, 2019, 11:25 am
birth rate Utah pregnancy maternity parental leave cradle act...
Getty Images

The United States is one of only three countries on earth that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave. Papua New Guinea and Lesotho share our unique distinction, but in every other place on this planet, new mothers are guaranteed at least some time off with pay.

It’s easier to point out a problem, though, than it is to fix it. Paying employees to not go to work is expensive. The costs of guaranteeing paid family leave under one previously proposed program, according to the American Action Forum, would have totaled $12.7 billion nationwide in 2017 alone.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, however, believe that they have the solution. They call it the Cradle Act, and it would let new parents pay for their own family leave by pulling it out of their Social Security.

The Cradle Act

Lee and Ernst outlined their plan in a Washington Post article yesterday.

Under their plan, any new parent – whether they give birth to their own biological child or adopt – would be allowed two or three months of paid leave.

Instead of paying for those benefits by raising taxes or increasing the U.S. debt, the parents would pay for the leave themselves by pushing back their Social Security benefits by two, four, or six months.

New parents would have to notify the Social Security Administration that they plan to take leave before the baby’s birth or adoption and would start getting payments within two weeks of applying for their baby’s Social Security number.

Their benefits would be based on their primary insurance amount (PIA), essentially making the paid family leave a sort of temporary early retirement. Using the PIA formula, Lee and Ernst say, would help ensure that lower-income families still have enough to live on.

The cost, in short, wouldn’t fall on the government; in fact, Lee and Ernst believe that these types of maternity leaves would actually strengthen the Social Security system.

The other side

On the surface, it seems like a perfect, bipartisan plan to a major problem. The Cradle Act balances the budget, strengthens the economy, and ensures a social welfare program to new parents all at the same time.

But KSL Newsradio’s Ethan Millard isn’t convinced that this is the great idea Lee and Ernst say it is. He called into the Dave & Dujanovic show to voice his frustration and explain what he believes most people are missing.

“This is not a good deal,” Millard says. “They say this is a pro-family thing, but I think this is an anti-family thing.”

His complaint, in part, is that he doesn’t accept that America can’t afford maternity leave.

“This is the richest economy we’ve ever had,” Millard says. “Why can’t we afford anything?”

The mere act of having children, he argues, makes up for the cost of paid family leave on its own just through their participation as consumers in our economy.

“Why do have to get lectures from Sen. Lee that: ‘Oh, if you want children, you’re going to have to pay for it?'” Milarr says. “Oh, really, we’re not paying for it already? Of course we are. Having children is continuing to pay for it.”

The Cradle Act, Millard believes, takes the economic benefit of having children away from the parents and redistributes it, all while chipping away at the Social Security benefits.

“[Social Security] is the most important anti-poverty program we have,” he says. “To raid it so we can do something so fundamental as having children… That’s crazy to me.”

Lee, Millard says, is “leading [us] down the primrose path” by using complicated equations to disguise his plan as a social service that actually steals from American’s retirements.

Instead, Millard says that America just needs to provide parents with paid leave as a new benefit.

“New child, new benefit,” he says. “That’s how it’s gotta be.”

More to the story

You can hear Ethan Millard’s whole take on the Cradle Act and how Utah responded on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

affordable care act

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

shoplifting...
Samantha Herrera

Increased shoplifting puts pressure on retailers and raises prices

Shoplifting is hitting retailers hard this season. Though retailers lose millions in stolen merchandise, offenders usually go without much punishment.
14 hours ago
spent...
Elizabeth Weiler

Financial infidelity: What does the Utah data look like?

The average Utahn would 'reconsider their relationship' if their partner spent $5k without consulting them first, reveals research from coupon birds.
2 days ago
...
Jeff Zeleny, Eva McKend and Gregory Krieg, CNN

Georgia voters once again have the last word during election season

During a campaign rally for Warnock in Atlanta last week, former President Barack Obama stressed the immediate impact of Democrats potentially winning a 51st Senate seat.
2 days ago
The mayor of Provo, Utah, discusses how popular the city's four-day workweek has been, why it's pop...
Simone Seikaly

A 4-day workweek is working for Provo government

Provo Mayor Michelle Kafusi said she isn't surprised at the positive results reported after a global 4 day workweek pilot program.
2 days ago
Great Salt Lake State Park and Marina...
Mark Jones

How much will it take to save the Great Salt Lake?

A bipartisan bill was passed in the U.S. Senate aimed at giving funding toward the study of The Great Salt Lake and other saline lakes in the west.
3 days ago
kindergarten gap year...
Tom Haraldsen

Checking in on the status of full-day kindergarten in Utah

Policy analyst with Voices for Utah Children reveals whether full-day kindergarten could be in the cards for next year.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
The Cradle Act: Mike Lee’s plan to ensure paid family leave for all new parents