Whatever becomes of Sen. Marco Rubio’s recently introduced paid family leave legislation, his hope is undeniably correct: the best policies come from a competition of ideas.
Rubio joins a growing list of Republican lawmakers who see a need for a national policy on paid benefits when parents receive a new child. That may come as an odd development given the proclivity for Democrats to call for similar programs, often citing the tired statistic that the U.S. is the only developed country in the world without some form of paid maternity leave.
That’s changing as Republicans, spurred by the passion of special adviser to the president Ivanka Trump, have churned out multiple proposals to help parents balance work, child care and personal health.
Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, unveiled their own legislation earlier this month that would allow parents to make early withdrawals from the Social Security fund to pay for up to three months of leave following the arrival of a new child. Parents then prolong retirement by double the time they took as leave.
Rubio’s plan functions similarly, although it would allow parents more flexibility to work while using the funds for child care. Utah’s Sen. Mitt Romney signed on to Rubio’s plan. And Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., reportedly has a separate plan he will release soon.
The developments are healthy, not only because supporting families in a rapidly shifting labor market is important, but because the more ideas flow, the closer the country comes to a policy tailor-made for America.
Too often, the best policy gets confused with the easiest policy to pass. One-sided legislation can sail through a congressional majority, but that doesn’t mean it’s good, or even close to helpful, for Americans.
On the other hand, good policy requires deliberation and a trove of ideas from which to pull. Lawmakers must understand this principle before key battles reach their climax in the near future.
Health care is the most salient of these. Earlier this week, President Donald Trump surprised even some in the White House by declaring an ongoing fight to strike down the Affordable Care Act, ensuring health care and what to do about the addled insurance market will remain a selling point for 2020 presidential candidates.
Following Rubio’s principle, the best solution for fixing the country’s health care system is to simply talk about it and entertain solutions from lawmakers as well as those outside of Washington.15 comments on this story
On such issues, here is one point of caution: The best proposals also stay grounded in the best logic. A marketplace of ideas can quickly turn into a frenzy of who can offer the most benefits, the greatest windfall or the grandest promises. Here, the adage is accurate — if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Nevertheless, to see Republican lawmakers take the unconventional move to join the paid parental leave discussion is a good sign that a helpful policy is on its way. Learning to talk — and listen — would be the right action for Congress right now.