No, Trump's Maternity Plan Won't Win Over Women

by Jon Hecht

Good afternoon! Donald Trump changed his position on a major issue again. This time it's about paid family leave! Dovetailing on the "Trump-Pence Women's Empowerment Tour," there is a new plan from Trump to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave to working mothers. According to The Washington Post, Trump worked out the plan with the help of his daughter, Ivanka, who spoke at the Republican National Convention in July about Trump's commitment to working mothers.

At the time, Ivanka's remarks were met with confusion. Not only had Trump never mentioned any commitment to policies for working mothers before, he had actually made comments last October to Fox Business News' Stuart Varney seemingly rejecting the idea of paid family leave, saying "We have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it," and, "I'm not a big fan."

But now Trump has come out in favor of it, and the reason isn't hard to find: Trump is doing terribly among women, especially working women. A recent Ipsos/Reuters poll found Hillary Clinton beating Trump by seven points among women, which widens to 16 points among women working full time. Clinton is leading by 27 percent among women with college degrees, a somewhat shocking result for a group that has historically supported the Republican party by large margins — Trump is on pace to be the first recent Republican nominee to lose college educated whites.


So Trump responds by focusing on an issue that Clinton has repeatedly highlighted in her appeal to voters. And in a manner that shouldn't be shocking for someone who until just a few months ago said that he didn't want the policy, the version of paid family leave that Trump has proposed is far smaller than Clinton's. His proposal of six weeks of paid leave is noticeably less than the 12 weeks the Clinton campaign has advocated for. Though full details are still coming, it seems that Trump's plan applies specifically to maternity leave and not to a general parental leave policy — which would presumably continue the disparity in male/female caregiving balance, a key cause of the gender pay gap.

Trump's proposal also differs from Clinton's in how benefits will work:

Clinton's proposal, in comparison to Trump's put in place a specific government benefit for working parents, with a minimum of two-thirds of normal income paid during parental leave. Trump's piggybacks on an already existing benefit — one that usually pays just 50-60 percent of income.

And whereas Clinton has backed up her proposal with a plan to pay for it by taxing wealthy Americans, Trump claims he won't need that, that he can pay for it by cutting some fraud in the existing unemployment benefits system. This adds to a long list of not-clearly-paid-for Trump proposals:

So to recap, less than two months before the election, Trump unveiled a brand new policy that doesn't do as much as his opponent's, with no real way to pay for it. And this is after he recently said this policy was a bad idea. Something tells me he's not especially committed to it...