Obama: U.S. women deserve paid maternity leave

During Monday’s White House Summit on Working Families, President Barack Obama suggested that the United States finally get with the program and start giving women some paid time off for maternity leave. You know, like every other industrialized nation on the planet. Including some countries we think we’re better than!


“Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth — now that’s a pretty low bar. That, we should be able to take care of,” Obama stated, and yeah, you think we’d be able to work that one out. Especially because the women who can’t get that paid day off are likely the ones most in need of it. In terms of how the system would work, the President said “If France can figure it out, we can figure it out.”

He has not yet endorsed a payroll tax that would pay for maternity leave, possibly owing to the fact that he promised not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year. However, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn has introduced legislation that would pay for up to 12 weeks parental leave through a fund in the Social Security administration and paid for by employers and employees on 0.2% of wages, amounting to about two cents for every ten dollars. It’s probably the best way to manage this, but the President has yet to endorse it. DeLauro states that without a fund like this, 8 out of 10 women will not be able take a maternity leave.

I’d like to see it be more than 12 weeks, and, quite frankly, I’d like to see it be paid parental leave so that mothers and fathers can split up that time if they choose to do so. But at this point I’ll take whatever I can get.

Naturally, Marco Rubio, of that party that’s always going on about how much they love families and (unborn) babies is opposed to the idea, stating that on Wednesday he will outline his vision for “how modern conservative reforms can help bring the American Dream within reach for millions of single mothers, young Americans and working families,” stating “Telling federal agencies to do what they’re already supposed to do and endorsing partisan legislation that will never pass is not the sort of bold, innovative leadership we need.”

Because the bold, innovative leadership we need is someone who will do absolutely nothing other than perhaps simply stating “How about you all maybe just not have sex ever?”

However, I gotta tell you– paid maternity leave is not as partisan as Rubio and others would like to think it is. You know how many Americans support paid family leave? 86%–96% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans. That is the opposite of partisan. That is an overwhelming majority. Only 14% of the country is not behind this. The same percentage, by the way, that thinks President Obama might be the Antichrist. More people (18%) believe the sun revolves around the earth than believe we should not have paid maternity leave.

Pretty much everyone is on board with the idea that parents should be able to take a little bit of time off to spend with their new children without worrying about how they’re going to feed themselves. Pretty much everyone here thinks that we should probably not be outdone by freaking Turkey and Pakistan on this issue. Why is anyone acting like this is some kind of contentious issue?

Obama has had some chutzpah lately when it comes to women’s issues. Yesterday on Morning Joe, while talking to Mika Brzezinski about equal pay. when Brzezinsky told him about how she’d had lunch with a CEO who told her that women don’t get raises because instead of asking for them they just leave and go someplace else, Obama said that it was up to the CEOs and bosses to create working environments where women feel comfortable asking for them in the first place. Which is very true, and very cool of him to state that. I was impressed, and–quite frankly–the man does not usually impress me much.

I am hoping–possibly in vain–that given that he’s not running for re-election, that he will stop trying to appease the Right for once and just push DeLauro’s bill right on through. Seriously. He must know by now that there is not a damn thing he can do to make them like him and invite him to their birthday parties, so he might as well try to get some shit done for the people who actually elected him. Just saying.