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Rubio: Helping Our Children Begins the Day They are Born by Giving Parents the Option of Paid Leave

Aug 2, 2018 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – On CBS This Morning, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today unveiled his Economic Security for New Parents Act, legislation that would offer working parents an option for paid family leave. Later today, Rubio will hold a press conference with U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) to introduce their bicameral legislation. A one pager of the bill is available here.

Yesterday, Rubio and Wagner penned an op-ed outlining their plan. Last month, Rubio’s office released a video highlighting his efforts to help working American families by expanding the Child Tax Credit and offering a conservative solution for paid family leave.

A rough transcript of the interview is below:

CBS HOST NORAH O’DONNELL: Senator Marco Rubio will introduce a bill today to help parents to get Paid Family Leave, it’s called the Economic Security for New Parents Act. The measure will give parents two months of paid leave by pulling from their future social security benefit. Workers would then delay taking social security for three to six months when they retire. The bill would be the first new option for families since the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. That law gives employees unpaid leave for twelve weeks to care for a family member. Senator Marco Rubio is with us for an interview from Capitol Hill. For an interview you’ll see first only here on CBS this morning. Senator, how many people would this affect?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, it depends on how many people want to take the option. Let me start by explaining the why, why are we doing this. There’s nothing we can do for our children that is better than allowing their parents to spend more time and be more involved in their lives, especially from the early days. I think it’s wrong that we’ve all seen this, people that work somewhere and they have a child and within two weeks of the cesarean section or three weeks of giving birth have to hurry up to work because they can’t afford to miss one paycheck. In fact it’s startling how many parents, particularly first-time mothers and people who just had a child in their family go on public assistance because they lose their job or they can’t draw a paycheck any longer. So what we’re doing is giving people an option. No one is required to do this but everyone will have the option of saying I’m going to take some of my benefits. These are your benefits, not anybody else’s and take a portion of that now. People can do that now with their 401(k)s. You should be able to do that with Social Security.

O’DONNELL: Senator, I was fascinated to learn that it’s estimated that just over 1 in 10 workers received paid family leave from their employers. That’s not a lot, and certainly people need paid family leave. Why though, do you want it to come from social security?

RUBIO: Well, I prefer it come from the private sector, but as you just said, only 1 out of 10 have it. I hope that number will grow over the years, and by the way, the irony is, the more money you make the likelier you are to have it, and the less money you make, the less likely you are to have it. So if you’re making $300,000 a year at an investment bank, you probably have paid family leave, but if you’re making $45,000 a year working for a small business, who probably can’t afford to provide it, you do not have it. As far as coming up from there, if somebody has a better idea, we’re open to it. If they have a better idea that doesn’t raise taxes, we’re all open for it. But I can tell you that this is a real problem. If we are serious in this country about helping our children, it begins from the day they are born by allowing their parents to be involved in the early days of their lives, especially. And that should not be a bankruptcy-inducing event. This is one option that we think is pretty creative, to allow people to take their money and instead of waiting thirty years to get some of it take some of it earlier when they really need it.

CBS HOST ALEX WAGNER: Senator, isn’t this really asking working class Americans to choose between retirement security and caring for a new child?

RUBIO: No. Ultimately right now they don’t even have a choice at all of how they’re going to pay for their bills at the front end. Many people right now, if you have a child, your job is required to give you twelve weeks of paid leave but they don’t have to pay you. So you’re basically without any pay for four to eight weeks, most people can’t afford that.  We have many people going on public assistance. So this is just an option, no one is forced to do this. Some people will decide they don’t want to do it, that it doesn’t make sense for them, but it’s an option that’ll be available for people. As it stands today, if we do nothing, you’ll continue to see as you said 9 out of 10 workers will basically not draw any income during that period of time. And it’s a real economic strain right now.