Sunday, December 9, 2018

Conservatives Can't Have It Both Ways


Challenge to debate paid family leave
I hereby challenge anyone, conservative or liberal, to debate paid family leave in a public forum. 
This challenge goes out to the Independent Women's Forum, the American Enterprise Institute, or anyone else who is in favor of paid family leave. 
Anywhere, any time. 
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I have no allergies. Strike that: I have one. I am allergic to perbertility.

Perbertility is the combination of stupidity and arrogance. I do not often come across examples of it, which makes every case of perbertility stand out even more. 

The paid-family leave issue has brought such a case to the spotlight: the Independent Women's Forum. 

Sad to say, this allegedly conservative think tank is campaigning hard to create a paid-leave entitlement program. Their idea is to allow people to get benefits from Social Security when they are home with newborn babies, then "pay back" to the system by deferring retirement benefits. 

In other words,

  • You take benefits out in your 20s, and
  • You delay benefits in your 60s. 

There are monumental problems with this system, which I have explained in numerous articles. Paid family leave as the IWF wants it will balloon the budget deficit and speed up the bankruptcy of Social Security. It does not matter how much the IWF tries to say that won't happen: the fiscal mechanics of their idea makes sure that repayments into the system won't begin until 15-20 years after the system has gone bankrupt

Ideologically, the IWF paid-leave program is egalitarianism on the right and as such, just a bribe to the American people so they will accept higher Social Security taxes

The IWF has an entire "center" devoted to advancing this crazy idea. Nowhere does that "center" explain how their system is not going to accelerate the federal government's path to a fiscal crisis. Nor do they explain how their concoction is going to save, rather than crash, Social Security. This glaring analytical omission is mind-boggling for two reasons, the first being that this new entitlement program is second only to Obamacare in its fiscal Orwellianism and advancement of big government.

The second reason is the IWF's - and I do not say this lightly - dishonest attitude toward the paid-leave proposal in Colorado. There, Democrats are now determined to use their win in the November election to grow the welfare state by adding new entitlement programs. Paid family leave is one of those programs. From KDVR in Denver:
The idea of paid family leave was a major pillar of the Democratic agenda that won convincingly in Colorado on election night. Governor-elect Jared Polis supports it, as do most Democrats in the newly elected General Assembly. Current federal law mandates you can keep your job if you need to take time off from work to care for yourself or a loved one if they are sick or just gave birth. It does not, however, mandate you should be paid.
This is not the reason why the Democrats are pushing paid leave. They have wanted it for a long time, purely for ideological reasons. There is only one way to stop it, and that is to take the ideological and economic fight against the idea. That means - be prepared to be shocked - that you explain why your alternative is better. 

But don't waste your breath telling that to the well-funded conservative institutions like the IWF that spend their resources advancing this idea. To them, giving the left most of what they want is a victory.

Here is what KDVR says about the actual legislation:  
Colorado workers would pay a "fee" to the state to create a family leave insurance program. The contribution would be less than 1 percent of an individual's yearly salary. When a family member is sick or a new baby is born, employees could then request benefits from the state. The benefits would be different for each Coloradan depending on income and only represent a fraction of what you would earn back at work full time. The 2018 legislation capped benefits at 12 weeks. 
First of all, this is not an insurance program. It is a benefit, an entitlement. The KDVR presentation rolls it up backwards. Here is what this is really about:

a) Every Coloradan gets two entitlements: to be home to care for a sick family member, and to be home with a newborn child;
b) To pay for this entitlement program, working Coloradans will pay a new tax, called a "fee". 

There is a much better solution to this problem, one that government could easily create if it wanted to. Let me get back to that in a separate article. For now, we go back to KDVR and Colorado's new fiscal disaster in the making:
Democrats are looking at crafting paid family leave as a "fee" and not a "tax." That is significant. In Colorado, under TABOR laws, any tax needs voter approval. Fees do not. "I think they are structuring the family leave bill as a fee," State Senator Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) said. Moreno is the chair of the state's Joint Budget Committee. 
Mr. Moreno is right. All he is doing is using Colorado's ill-crafted TABOR law as its designers intended. In addition to exempting fees, TABOR also falls short on the spending side where it applies only to the General Fund. Predictably, as soon as TABOR went into effect the Colorado legislature started shifting spending from the General Fund to Other Funds. 

This is also why TABOR will not keep the lid on paid family leave spending: just run it through Other Funds.

And then KDVR gets to the Independent Women's Forum, whose long campaign in favor of paid family leave now delivers what they asked for:
Conservatives have objected to the idea in the past. It remains unclear if that will change in 2019. "Anytime you increase taxes, there is a downside," said Hadley Heath Manning, a policy analyst with Independent Women Forum, a conservative think tank. Heath Manning says both sides of the aisle want workers to spend more time with their family, but risks are associated with creating new entitlements. 
So why, then, has Hadley Heath Manning's employer spent the past two years fervently campaigning on Capitol Hill in Washington to create this very new entitlement???
She said her organization and others have endorsed a proposal by Senator Marco Rubio to address this federally. Rubio's proposed legislation would allow people to tap into Social Security retirement benefits to create paid family leave.
It was actually the other way around. The IWF is the originator of the idea, but maybe they don't want to take credit for it in case it turns out their critics are right.

At any rate, Manning seems to believe that it is better to wreck Social Security, or give Democrats all the ammunition they need to raise the Social Security tax (or is it a fee?) than to work for alternatives that do not rely on expanding government. Even the idea of a state-run program is better, because it contains the inevitable fiscal disaster. 

It is time for America's conservatives to stand up for what they believe in. Is that too much to ask?

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