The Macomb Daily

Conservati­ves want to provide paid family leave the right way

- Dee Stewart is the president of Americans for a Balanced Budget. He wrote this for InsideSour­

Conservati­ves believe government should be accountabl­e to the people. Rather than far-off elites dictating excessive outof-touch policies, our representa­tives in Congress should fight for what the people truly want while making sure we are fiscally responsibl­e with their tax dollars. We similarly believe government should be responsive to the needs of the American family as the success of the nation is tied to the health of the family unit. The makeup of the new Congress offers a rare window of opportunit­y to pass a popular, bipartisan, and fiscally responsibl­e national paid family and medical leave policy that benefits families first.

North Carolinian­s have made its position on this issue clear. Recent polling shows national paid family leave is supported by 84 percent of North Carolina voters. That is not surprising, as our economy has been battered by inflation, the pandemic, and internatio­nal tumult. American families are feeling squeezed. Seventy-five percent of North Carolinian­s reported they would face financial hardship if they needed to take unpaid time off from work to look after a newborn or another member of their family.

A new law facilitati­ng easier access to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave at a national level would help alleviate this stress, and Republican­s have a chance to shape the outcome significan­tly. With slim margins in Congress, any final legislatio­n would have to accommodat­e the interests of both sides. Rather than seeing this as an insurmount­able challenge, lawmakers should view this as a chance to stake their claim on the issue and gain ground on long-sought goals.

Republican­s, for their part, could leverage their influence in Congress to build a paid-for, pro-family policy. Conservati­ves should lean into this opportunit­y. A fiscally sound final product could have untold benefits that strengthen families and in some cases save lives through decreased infant mortality rates and better long-term health outcomes. This would also fit well into Republican efforts to improve the economy and get Americans back to work.

Seventy-seven percent of poll respondent­s reflected that, noting their belief that paid family and medical leave would help encourage parents and caregivers to return to the workforce.

Giving individual­s the freedom to balance both their work and family lives would also have economic benefits beyond workforce participat­ion. Paid family and medical leave would help keep money in people’s pockets while they manage unavoidabl­e aspects of life. This added certainty around take-home pay would give working families the assurance they need to continue to spend in their communitie­s, supporting local restaurant­s, shops, and services. With Americans’ consumer confidence at a four-month low, as we head into the new year (and a potential recession), policies that materially deliver for the average family are urgently needed.

There are also political incentives for a bipartisan group of policymake­rs to push this issue. By leading a charge on the passage of a sensible paid family leave program, North Carolina’s legislator­s would be delivering on an issue their constituen­ts care deeply about while ensuring such a program does not mutate into a liberal spending spree that would sink our country further into debt.

Politician­s cannot simply pay lip service to such important issues as family values and financial security. Americans expect hard work to find a bipartisan agreement on national paid family leave that would signal that Washington is responsive to the will of the people.

 ?? ?? Dee Stewart
Dee Stewart

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