Donald Trump's Maternity Plan Is A Problem For Feminists & Anybody Else Hoping For Change
Women of America, rejoice! Your savior, Donald J. Trump, is here to rescue you from the indignity and hardship of motherhood. The Trump campaign announced Tuesday that the Republican presidential candidate will be outlining a child care plan at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania later that day. Specifically, Trump's maternity leave plan will include six weeks of paid leave for new mothers.
"Trump rolls out paid family leave plan,"says POLITICO. "Trump to call for six weeks paid maternity leave,"claims The Hill. The Huffington Post's story comes with the headline "Trump Just Radically Broke With Republicans On Maternity Leave," but notes in the sub-headline that "his proposal may actually lead to increased discrimination against women." As the article noted in its interview with Carmel Martin, vice president of policy at the Center for American Progress, "by limiting this benefit to mothers, Trump is inadvertently incentivizing employers to discriminate against women."
Here's what Trump's "paid maternity leave"plan actually is: six weeks of unemployment benefits. What it is not is full paid maternity leave, despite what all those headlines might have you think. (It's different in each state, but for instance, in New York and California, your unemployment benefit is about half of what your salary was, and lasts for half a year.)
By contrast, Hillary Clinton's plan calls for 12 weeks of paid leave, which would be "at least two-thirds of their current wages." Oh, and it would also apply to fathers and would cover people who need to care for sick family members. (For extra contrast, compare the United States to the rest of the Western world, where most countries offer at least some amount of full-pay leave and a generous amount of unpaid leave.)
Outstanding questions still to be answered regarding the policy include: What about same-sex couples? Or families who adopt? Not to mention the more existential questions, like, why only six weeks?
And of course, the real humdinger: how is he really going to pay for this benefit? Sure, his campaign said it will do so by eliminating unemployment insurance fraud, but Vox's Libby Nelson pointed out a problem with this: "There's about $3 billion in unemployment fraud in the US every year. Even if Trump could root it all out, it would probably take at least three times that much money to afford a bare-bones paid family leave program."
The real problem here isn't just that this new Trump policy is lukewarm and doesn't hold a candle to Clinton's — it's that it's as unrealistic to execute and involves as much magical thinking as any of Trump's other plans.