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Watch These Fox Hosts Trash Family Bereavement Leave While Claiming They’re 'Not Being Insensitive'

3yrs ago from The Week
New York state is trying to pass a bill guaranteeing paid leave to employees who've lost a relative, and these Fox Business Network hosts are positively peeved about it. On Tuesday, Mornings with Maria host Maria Bartiromo was joined by Varney & Co.'s Stuart Varney to discuss a New York state bill that would amend its paid family leave legislation to include bereavement of a family member. The law already allows time off to bond with a newly born or adopted child, or to care for a sick relative. This new addition passed both houses of New York's legislature and is headed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) desk. As Varney passionately explained, "you get three months — three months!" to deal with a family member's death under the bill. He forgot to put "up to" in front of "three months," and took particular issue with the fact that "family" includes in-laws. "There's no pets in there — yet," Varney added. Bartiromo and Varney went on to discuss how losing one employee could squeeze small businesses, especially because in 2018, businesses would have to pay employees 50 percent of their weekly wages while they're away. That could be up to $652.96 per week, per one estimate. But if a small business owner denies to offer the leave, "you could lose your job for your gross insensitivity," Varney sarcastically added. "I am not being insensitive, but it is freaking ridiculous!" Watch the whole exchange below. Kathryn Krawczyk .@Varneyco and @MariaBartiromo are *OUTRAGED* about a paid bereavement bill that's working its way through the New York legislature."That is crazy! 3 months! A mother-in-law?" Bartiromo says. "I am not being insensitive, but it is freakin' ridiculous!" Varney replies. pic.twitter.com/hfycGHUiUh — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 7, 2018
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Owner of California Chick-Fil-A Hikes Employees’ Wages to $18 an Hour

3yrs ago from The Blaze
The owner of a California Chick-fil-A restaurant has decided to hike employees' wages from $12.50 or $13 an hour to $17 or $18 an hour, KXTV-TV reported. Eric Mason, who owns the Sacramento Chick-fil-A, called the substantial increase a "living wage." "We're looking for people trying to raise families, improve their lifestyle," Mason told the news station. The state's minimum wage currently sits at $11 with $1 an hour increases through 2022, bringing it to $15. The new wages for its "hospitality professionals" go into effect June 4 at Mason's restaurant. All employees will also receive paid sick leave, and those in leadership roles will receive paid time off. What's the economic impact? It's not clear whether $18 will be the highest wage in the country for a fast-food worker, but it could set a new marker for such employees. "We’re seeing a lot of operators that are in that $12 to $15 range, especially in higher-priced …
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HS Agricultural Teacher Accused of Drowning Raccoons in Trash Bin While Students Watched, Assisted

3yrs ago from The Blaze
A Florida high school teacher was placed on paid leave Tuesday over allegations he drowned a pair of raccoons in a trash bin while students assisted and watched, WKMG reported. A student at Forest High School in Ocala told WFTV-TV some students were left with nightmares after Dewie Brewton's sixth-period agricultural science class Monday. The student told the station that Brewton asked students to not record the drownings, but some did. The raccoons had killed several chickens that students and staff members raise in a shed behind the school, the student told WFTV. The mother of a student who took photos and video of the incident told WKMG her son came home in tears over what happened to the animals. "It made me sick," the woman told the station. "It made me sick to my stomach. It's terrible. It still does make me sick to my stomach." What does video show? Photos and video show a …
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What Business Owners Need to Know About Improving Staff Morale

A recent study showed that American employers are spending one hundred and sixty billion dollars a year on paid sick-leave days. However, this unbelievable amount can be reduced by improving the day to day experience of the average worker. Instead of forcing your employees to spend their time in an unpleasant environment, tackling more work
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This Is What the Koch Brothers Want Children to Learn About Slavery

3yrs ago from Raw Story
Given that the billionaire Charles Koch has poured millions of dollars into eliminating the minimum wage and paid sick leave for workers, and that in 2015 he had the gall to compare his ultra-conservative mission to the anti-slavery movement, he’s probably the last person you’d want educating young people about slavery. Yet the history-teaching wing of the Koch brothers empire is seeking to promote an alternate narrative to slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. The political goal …
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TWU Campaigns for Rights for Gig Economy Workers

3yrs ago from Green Left Weekly
The Transport Workers’ Union joined the ACTU, Victorian Trades Hall and Unions NSW on January 31 to launch a campaign for the rights of food delivery riders. The campaign called for urgent regulation of the industry after a survey showed three quarters of food delivery riders are paid below the minimum award wage and have no sick leave. TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon said: “Wealthy companies are engaging in wage theft, ripping workers off, leaving them without compensation when they get injured and not paying superannuation. "These riders are crying out for guaranteed hours, fair rates of pay, rain gear, work cover, sick pay and insurance for their bikes.”
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Tax Reform Is No Place for Paid Leave

4yrs ago from National Review
Paid parental leave is a hot topic these days, and rightfully so. Only 14 percent of workers have access to paid family leave from their employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even when accounting for vacation days, sick days, temporary disability insurance, and state-based policies, the majority of workers do not get paid time off upon the birth or adoption of a child, according to the Council of Economic Advisers — a situation unheard of in the rest of the developed world. In today’s modern economy, with the majority of parents working, this arrangement feels increasingly untenable ...
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In Yemen, a Cholera Outbreak Is Making a Bleak Situation Worse

4yrs ago from The Week
Most of its infrastructure has been destroyed and there are shortages of everything from food to medicine, and as fighting rages on, it's unlikely things will improve in Yemen anytime soon. The United Nations says the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn Middle Eastern country is the worst in the world, and 10 million people need immediate assistance. The fighting began in 2014, when Houthi rebels faced off against the government; in 2015, a Saudi-led coalition began fighting the rebels in order to restore the government, and today, the Houthis control the west and the government and its backers control the south and east. Over the past two-and-a-half years, constant airstrikes have killed civilians and destroyed bridges and hospitals, and because the coalition has shut down the capital's international airport to civilian planes, supplies cannot fly in and sick and injured Yemenis cannot leave for treatment in other countries. The New York Times has an in-depth look at one of the biggest problems facing Yemen: Cholera, the bacterial infection that is spread by feces-contaminated water. It is not life-threatening in developed countries, and can be treated with antibiotics, but in Yemen, it's hitting children and the elderly hard. As garbage piles up in the streets and sewage systems fail, Yemenis have to get their water from wells that can easily be contaminated. In just three months, cholera has killed nearly 2,000 Yemenis, the Times reports, and more than 500,000 are infected. Half of all Yemenis do not have quick access to an operating medical center, and many have to borrow money to get treatment; a Yemeni soldier who told the Times he has not been paid in eight months brought his six-year-old daughter to the capital Sana'a for cholera treatment. She is malnourished, after surviving off of yogurt and milk from neighbors, and her father said they are "just waiting for doom or for a breakthrough from heaven." As humanitarian workers watch the situation escalate, they are cognizant of the fact that if they had additional funds, they could make more of a difference — the United Nations estimates Yemen needs $2.3 billion in humanitarian aid this year, but only 41 percent has been received. Read the entire report at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia
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Lean In’s Biggest Hurdle: What Most Moms Want

4yrs ago from National Review
EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was reprinted with permission from family-studies.org. Academia is replete with efforts to help women advance in their careers by encouraging more equal patterns of male and female parenting and work. Several of these efforts have been striking failures. For example, gender-neutral tenure-extension policies at the nation’s 50 leading economics departments hurt female faculty. Rather than leveling the playing field, one study by a group of economists found that they “led to a 19 percentage-point rise in the probability that a male economist would earn tenure at his first job. In contrast, women’s chances of gaining tenure fell by 22 percentage points.” The study suggested that many men had used the stopped clock to conduct research, while the women concentrated on parenting duties. Similarly, my own research (with my son Christopher) on gender-neutral parental leave found that fathers on the tenure track did less infant/toddler care than mothers on the tenure track, even if the men took parental leave after the child’s birth and the women did not. Moreover, when new parents were asked who did more when it came to 25 specific infant and toddler care tasks, on average, the spouses of the male professors did all 25 more often, while the female professors did all 25 more often than their spouses. These findings likewise imply that gender-neutral parental leave may give male faculty an extra boost toward tenure: The temporary break from teaching and other academic tasks allows them to devote more time to research — time that their female counterparts devote instead to their children. One explanation for these findings could be that in the parental leave study, the female professors reported that they enjoyed doing most of these tasks, and they enjoyed them more than their male counterparts. Ignoring the stronger female inclination to nurture seems certain to thwart feminist efforts well beyond academia. Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean In has spawned lasting initiatives meant to spur the progress of women to positions of power in major corporations. To the same end, late last year, 27 CEOs of major corporations joined a new organization that seeks “gender parity at the top of major companies by 2030.” Such efforts should benefit the many women, mothers included, who want full-time work and aim to rise to the top in their professions. Yet, as this essay will show, most women who have dependent children don’t want to work full-time, much less to put in the hours required of corporate titans. We should listen to these women, too. Initiatives aimed at changing historic male and female parenting and work patterns are based on the view that these historic patterns are socially constructed. But pregnancy and childbirth are not gender-neutral activities. They are biologically constructed and can be exhausting. Pregnancy is often accompanied by nausea and fatigue, and two different studies found that six months after giving birth, more than 75 percent of mothers have not achieved full functional status. Even the roots of gender differences in parenting run deeper than societal norms and go beyond the simple fact that it is women who breastfeed. Women’s greater inclination to nurture infants and toddlers is also rooted in hormones and in brain structure. Women’s bodies have more receptors for the nurturing hormone oxytocin than men’s, especially in pregnancy and during breastfeeding. More recent imaging research shows that mothers’ brains change during pregnancy and after birth in ways that seem to increase their “emotional attachment to their babies.” Evolution, too, helps explain the sex differences in nurturing inclinations. Helen Fisher puts it this way: Surely ancestral women . . . needed to coordinate emotionally with their young. Those who suffered when they saw a sick or unhappy infant devoted more time and energy to keeping this child alive. Emotionally attuned mothers raised children who were well adjusted. These children disproportionately lived — gradually selecting for women’s superior ability to express sadness, pity, empathy, compassion, and other nurturing emotions. But women don’t nurture children only out of anxiety and guilt. They also tend to enjoy it. In 2004, a 60 Minutes feature on highly educated, stay-at-home mothers attracted attention, in part, because the women seemed so happy with their choice. Anne-Marie Slaughter has accomplished as much in her career as any woman of her generation. From a professor at Harvard Law school to president and CEO of New America, she has gone from one important position to another. But she may be best known for her 2012 Atlanticarticle, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” After its publication, according to one official biography, it “quickly became the most-read article in the history of the magazine and helped spark a renewed national debate on the continued obstacles to genuine full male-female equality.” A year later, dismayed by the increasing numbers of highly educated women in their twenties who were declaring that they never wanted to have children, Slaughter took to The Atlantic again to emphasize the “sheer delight, pleasure, and wonder that child-rearing often affords” before concluding that “having children is the best thing I’ve ever done, by a mile.” Slaughter’s thinking has continued to evolve. Just last year, the Washington Post reported that she has had “some pretty significant changes of heart.” As the Post reports: “‘When people say, ‘I’m home with my kids,’ I say, ‘You’re doing really important work,’ and I mean it,” she says. “Whereas before, I was the classic woman that said, ‘Oh, what a pity.’ Like, ‘You’re not doing the real thing.’” Differences in the inclination to nurture can help us understand why women are more torn about work-family issues than men, and why mothers are much more attracted to part-time work than fathers. One can’t read this interview without seeing how hard it has been for Slaughter to have spent so little time with her children. She vividly remembers the “deep dismay” she felt the first time her child woke up at night and called for daddy, not mommy. Her sons are more likely to call her husband rather than her for advice or to share some good news. Looking back, she says: Knowing what I know now, I wish I had taken one day a week when they were between 0 and 5 to be with them. I could have said, “Every Friday, instead of daycare, every Friday is a mom day.” We would have done fun things. It would have mattered. And it would have been a pleasure for me. Many young women seek Slaughter’s advice and mentorship. Her advice: “Don’t drop out, defer. . . . If you keep your hand in the workforce while you are devoting more of your time to care, it will be easier to ramp up than to get back in.” That sounds a lot like part-time work to me. To be sure, Slaughter would likely give similar advice to men should they ask, and she would prefer to see an increase in the time men spend caregiving. But differences in the inclination to nurture can help us understand why women are more torn about work-family issues than men, and why mothers are much more attracted to part-time work than fathers. In a 2013 Pew poll on modern parenthood, mothers with children under 18 were far more likely than fathers to say that ideally, they would work part-time or not at all. In 2015, Gallup reported similar findings. The Pew findings show that the higher the socio-economic status of their families, the more likely mothers were to prefer not to work full-time. Elizabeth Becker and Cotton Lindsay note that the most intelligent married women work less than other women outside the home; they think assortative mating best explains the underrepresentation of female workers among top earners. That is, the brightest women marry the brightest men, who usually make very good incomes. When these women have children, they are more likely than other women to drop out of the labor force or cut back dramatically on paid work outside the home. When a husband’s high income allows women to arrange their work-family choice in the absence of significant financial constraints, bright women especially choose to spend more time with family. More recent research shows that even now — when more women are obtaining college degrees than men — women still marry men whose income exceeds their own. Indeed, the tendency for women to marry up in income is greaterwhen the wife’s education level is higher than her husband’s than when it is lower. Additional recent research by Joni Hersch shows that ”Married MBA mothers with a bachelor’s degree from the most selective schools are 30 percentage points less likely to be employed full-time than are graduates of less selective schools.” Hersch believes that ”Graduates of elite institutions are likely to have a greater range of workplace options,” so inflexible workplaces cannot explain her research results. It seems choice could. Since very bright people tend to marry each other, women with bachelor’s degrees from selective institutions are more likely to marry men with better incomes, which allows them to spend more time with their children without a huge financial sacrifice. Would similar patterns hold in academia? The work of a team of researchers led by Camilla Benbow and David Lubinski suggests the answer is yes. They have published a series of important articles following children with high aptitude for science and math into their 30s. Many have ended up in research, often at universities. Among other things, Benbow and Lubinski investigated how much these talented Americans would be willing to work each week if they could work at their ideal job. On average, the men in the study were more willing to work 50, 60, or 70 hours a week at their ideal job than the women. The women were more than four times as likely as their male counterparts (30% versus 7%) to want to work less than 40 hours a week — even if they held their ideal job. These talented men and women held some different values and interests when they were young teenagers. And their values were still different in their thirties: “Men as a group valued full-time work, making an impact, and earning a high income, whereas women as a group valued part-time work more often, as well as community and family involvement and time for close relationships.” What might be done to help women in academia while enabling them to maintain the significant day-to-day time with their children many desire? One suggestion is to create half-time tenure-track positions available to both sexes. But such a policy might end up benefiting male professors more than female professors. The previously mentioned parental leave study found that spouses of male professors worked a median of about 8 hours a week, while spouses of female professors worked about 35 hours. The wives of male faculty are unlikely to object if their husbands’ “half-time” careers become full-time in practice if the additional time they allocate to research boosts their chances of tenure. Female faculty in a half-time role, who can seldom rely on a spouse to do the majority of childcare and housework, are unlikely to enjoy the same benefits. Instead, what universities could do is discontinue their gender-neutral parental leave and tenure extension policies. If this requires legal changes, work to make them. Preferential treatment of women is justified even if one considers only the requirements of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. It would certainly be reasonable to grant only female professors a semester of paid leave after the birth of a child. Male professors in highly unusual situations could petition for exceptions to this general policy. Universities could also create some better-paid, more interesting part-time teaching and research positions with five-year contracts. These should be available to both women and men, but I would predict that a disproportionate number of women would end up in these jobs because a higher proportion of talented women than men will want part-time jobs. Some years ago, a Harvard Ph.D. student in economics told me that Harvard would pay for full-time daycare for her baby, but she did not want to put her baby in daycare. She asked that the university, instead, provide a research assistant to do coding (a much cheaper proposition than full-time daycare) so that when she had time to work, she could do thinking and analysis. They refused. Given women’s preferences regarding work and family, and the public’s belief that parental care is best for babies, this sort of refusal is unfair to mother, child, and society. To help women thrive and achieve happiness as they see it, we must first acknowledge that most mothers — inside or outside academia — want to avoid full-time work, at least while their children are young. Proponents of “leaning in” have no reason to believe they speak for most women or that they have a better understanding than women themselves of what’s good for them. Why not try to accommodate the life preferences women in fact have? – Steven E. Rhoads is the Professor of Politics Emeritus at the University of Virginia and the author of Taking Sex Differences Seriously.
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Senate Dems: Trump’s Paid Leave Plan Is a 'Non-Starter'

4yrs ago from Washington Examiner
Senate Democrats challenged President Trump to live up to his campaign promise to provide a plan to expand paid family and sick leave for all Americans, saying his proposal that would only offer paid maternity leave for women is a non-starter in the Senate. Trump ran on a paid leave that was entirely unacceptable – it was not gender neutral and it would not actually deal with the problem, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday. The Trump plan, she said, is focused solely on providing six weeks of paid maternity leave for women and does not allow women and men to take time off work time for any family emergency, whether it's a sick spouse, a death in the family or a new baby. It has to be gender-neutral, she said. You're going to continue to marginalize women's ability to make money in the first place … so that is a non-starter in the Senate.
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The House Health-Care Proposal

4yrs ago from National Review
What should we make of the House Republican health-care proposal released this week? It has certainly been off to a difficult start. And I suspect that in a week’s time its authors will look back fondly on that difficult start as the glorious interlude before the Congressional Budget Office had scored the proposal. There are rough waters ahead. But this process is far from over.  It is an old political truism that a successful compromise is an outcome no one likes. But that surely doesn’t mean that any proposal no one likes must be a good idea or a plausible compromise. The House Republicans have managed to propose an approach to health reform that almost no one really likes.  So how did that happen? And where is this process likely to go? Stipulating at the outset that I sure don’t know, I have a few conjectures. First, it’s important to recall how legislative endeavors like this, and particularly regarding health care, tend to work. In very general terms, the House establishes the framework and the Senate fills it in. As we have seen most recently with Obamacare and (on a smaller scale) with the 2015 Republican reconciliation bill that sought to repeal Obamacare, the Senate tends to respond to House bills like these with wraparound amendments that essentially replace the substance of the bill with a version more suited to Senate procedure—and frequently also more developed and cooked. You might say the House writes the chapter headings and the Senate writes the text. I would expect that to happen here. But the way the House begins the process obviously matters enormously, and in this case things are not off to a very good start.  If the House is writing the framework, what are its basic elements? The House proposal involves two fairly distinct sets of reforms: an aggressive and appealing Medicaid reform that conservatives (and a few prominent liberals too) have sought for 20 years, and a set of incremental individual-market reforms that have some real trouble holding together.  The Medicaid reform, which would gradually bring to an end the federal-state “match” approach to Medicaid funding that has done enormous harm to American health care and federalism for decades, is very worthwhile. It would replace that match approach with a capped federal contribution, based on the size of the beneficiary population (or more precisely, several beneficiary sub-populations) in each state. There is room for debate about the growth-rate of such a capped contribution, and there would be such room in an ongoing way in this sort of system, as well as for thinking about how to handle the transition to that system given that some states have expanded Medicaid eligibility in the last few years under a much higher federal match and others haven’t. I don’t love all the details of the House proposal on all those fronts, but they are clearly subject to negotiation.  That kind of negotiation and renegotiation is appropriate and unavoidable, and it would be best entered into with a default inclination to be protective of vulnerable people and to be willing to accept higher near-term spending levels in return for enduring structural reforms. But this reform is an excellent idea on the whole, and it is very encouraging to find it here and to see Republicans largely united in support of it. It’s surprising, too. Until the last few weeks, I would not have guessed that what Republicans put forward to take on Obamacare would advance a transformation of Medicaid’s funding system to per-capita caps. This reform would be, in some respects, more significant than anything else the House bills would do.  The individual-market reforms are another story. Some of them are a kind of twisted, fun-house mirror version of an approach to the federal role in the individual insurance market that has been proposed by some conservatives for years, but a number of the twists are peculiar and problematic. These twists have been explained by some this week as a function of the longstanding divisions about health-care policy on the Right, and there is surely some truth to that. But the House approach actually very clearly takes a side in that longstanding fight. It takes the side of the refundable tax credit camp, and isn’t particularly shy about it. Some of its problems—like the credit being means tested at the top but not the bottom, leaving it not helpful enough to people just above the new Medicaid thresholds—are probably a function of trying to make the bill a little more palatable to critics on the Right. But as a general matter, it doesn’t twist itself in knots over the basic question of the tax-credit approach.  The twists, it seems to me, are much more a function of a different problem: The proposal has the form it does because it isn’t quite sure how aggressive to be about the Senate’s procedural rules. It is being pursued through the budget reconciliation process to avoid a Senate filibuster, which means that in the Senate it has to survive the Byrd Rule that requires each element of the bill to be relevant to the budget. That means pure tax and spending measures are allowed, but pure rules changes—like reforms of insurance regulations—may not be unless they are deemed by the Senate parliamentarian (or the presiding officer) to have clear budget implications. And there is a vast gray area in between.  The House Republican proposal has clearly been designed with a very specific set of assumptions in mind about what can make it past the Byrd Rule in the Senate and what cannot. But it’s less clear where these assumptions come from or how valid they are. Some of them are downright strange. The bill assumes that Obamacare’s core feature—the federalization of health insurance—cannot be undone through reconciliation. So it does what it does within the boundaries of Obamacare’s imposition of specific guaranteed-issue and community-rating rules on the insurance system. But some of Obamacare’s insurance regulations, like the premium age bands (that determine how much higher the premiums of older people may be than those of younger people) are altered in the House proposal. And the proposal also introduces some elements, like a 30 percent surcharge on premiums for people who haven’t been continuously insured, which seem (to me) very unlikely to survive a Byrd Rule challenge.  This inconsistency about the limits of reconciliation strikes me as the source of the bill’s core structural strangeness. The conservative reforms on which it is modeled (like Tom Price’s bill, Paul Ryan’s past proposals, the Hatch-Burr bill in the Senate, and various conservative wonk ideas in the Obama years) were premised on a repeal of Obamacare, or were proposed before it was enacted.  Those various proposals all involved bringing premium costs down by enabling insurers to sell catastrophic coverage plans (along with more comprehensive plans) and enabling everyone in the individual market to afford at least those catastrophic coverage plans. This would enable far greater competition and let anyone not otherwise covered by insurance enter the individual market as a consumer.  That would be achieved, first, by freeing insurers from the benefit and design mandates of Obamacare and returning almost all health-insurance regulation to the states. The main exception is that those past proposals would require that people with continuous insurance coverage be allowed to keep their plans (and to an extent to switch to new ones) without being newly risk-rated. This would create a strong incentive for healthy people to purchase coverage.  And second, those kinds of proposals would provide a refundable tax credit for the purchase of coverage and enable—or in some cases require—insurers to offer some plans with premiums equal to the amount of the credit (with deductibles and other cost sharing adjusted accordingly). This would mean that people could get catastrophic coverage for extreme expenses for the same price they now pay to be uninsured—i.e., nothing.  The combination of these features would mean that everyone could afford to purchase at least catastrophic coverage in a competitive individual insurance market, and there would then be a wide range of options above that and real downward pressure on premium costs. The credit would be paid for by a cap on the tax exclusion for employer-provided health coverage, which has long been open-ended and so has encouraged high-premium insurance coverage. The House proposal bears a clear resemblance to this approach. It involves some deregulation from Obamacare, it includes a refundable tax credit for coverage, it gestures toward incentives for continuous coverage. But it is also fundamentally different from this approach, because it functions within the core insurance rules established by Obamacare, which means it can’t really achieve most of the key aims of the conservative reforms it is modeled on.  Perhaps the clearest example of this problem is one of the more peculiar features of the new proposal: the 30 percent surcharge on premiums for people who have not been continuously insured. This is an echo of the protection for continuously covered people that has been part of many Republican health-care proposals in recent years. But it is distorted by the fact that Obamacare’s rules would remain in effect.  Its goal, presumably, is to discourage people from waiting to buy coverage until they are sick by making insurance more expensive to people who haven’t been insured for a while. But in practice, this kind of penalty would probably have the opposite effect. It would create a disincentive for everyone who hasn’t been continuously covered to get coverage, by making insurance more expensive for them. But that disincentive would do more to drive away healthy people than sick people, since the added premium is more likely to be worth it to someone who otherwise would have higher costs than to someone just looking to get insurance for a rainy day. It would, in other words, exacerbate the problem it is trying to mitigate. And why have such a peculiarly designed continuous-coverage feature? Because Obamacare’s rules would remain in effect.  The way continuous coverage protection has usually been thought of in prior conservative proposals assumed you’d get rid of Obamacare’s form of community rating and then re-introduce a version of community rating available only to people who have been continuously insured (in a system where everyone could afford to be continuously insured with at least catastrophic coverage). So as a benefit of being continuously covered you get guaranteed renewability of your existing plan regardless of changes in your health and also some constraint on risk rating when switching plans. That would make insurance much more attractive to healthier people, since they could get in at a lower rate and then either keep their plan at that rate or have some protection from the full effects of pre-existing conditions on their premium when switching to another plan. It would be a strong reason to get covered when you’re healthy, rather than a reason not to.  The architects of the House proposal seem to think they can’t do this because they can’t alter Obamacare’s community rating in reconciliation. So they opt for a new surcharge instead of a rule change. But (as suggested above) it’s not clear why they should be able to get this new surcharge through reconciliation but not be able to get rid of or alter the terms of community rating through reconciliation. As a chapter heading called “continuous coverage protection” this could be excusable. As a specific policy provision, I don’t think it can.  Other structural elements of the proposal seem to be functions of a similar process of imaginary negotiation with an imaginary Senate parliamentarian. Not all, of course. The absence of a cap on the employer tax exclusion, for instance, seems to have its roots in more familiar political pressures. It, too, is a serious mistake that needs to be remedied.  But if they’re going to talk about remedying mistakes, then Republicans have to confront the basic inconsistency in this proposal about the Senate’s reconciliation rules, and the proposal’s resulting fundamental identity problem. They will need to decide whether what they’re moving is a repeal and replacement of Obamacare or a much more limited incremental measure defined by the bounds of the reconciliation process.  Both of those are viable and legitimate options, and which of them should be pursued depends on what Senate rules make possible at this point. But a combination of the two risks a dangerous incoherence—dangerous both to the political prospects of Republicans and (more important) to the practical prospects of the individual insurance market and the people who depend on it.  The two possible answers to that basic question would point toward two sets of remedies for problems with the bill. House Republicans could decide that it is not their job to solve procedural problems in the Senate and proceed with a bill that aggressively rolls back the insurance regulations in Title I of Obamacare and then enacts a different approach—returning insurance regulation to the states and subsidizing catastrophic coverage. That would leave it to the Senate to decide how much of such a bill to retain and in what form, whether on the floor in response to Democratic challenges under the Byrd Rule or in preparing a wraparound amendment in advance. Senators would presumably want to alter the credit in such a bill to make it more generous at the bottom, perhaps to require insurers to offer default plans with premiums equal to the credit, and also to reinstate the cap on the employer exclusion. (James Capretta has outlined what some of these changes might look like.)  Elements of such a bill that could not be included in reconciliation might then be attempted separately on regular-order legislation (like the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program coming later in the year) that Democrats will feel pressure to vote for. And whatever gets enacted could be supplemented by regulatory action from HHS. Some of this might succeed, some of it would not. But Republicans will have tried to repeal and replace Obamacare and can proceed based on the outcome. Or House Republicans could decide that there is no reason to expect Senate rules to allow them to take on Obamacare’s insurance regulations and instead pursue something more like a set of stabilizing transitional reforms through reconciliation. These could be things like what the House bill envisions as a transition to a new system, which breaks the bounds of the exchanges and loosens rules some—again, in conjunction with vital regulatory reforms from HHS. It could also involve the replacement of Obamacare’s subsidies with the kind of credit the House bill envisions (albeit more generous at the bottom and funded by a cap on the employer exclusion). But it would not pretend to be a repeal of Obamacare, but rather an effort to loosen its strictures to the extent possible, with more to come if and when it’s achievable. Avik Roy has proposed changes to the bill that would essentially work this way. Given that such a bill would also include the House’s aggressive Medicaid reform, which surely can get past the parliamentarian, a bill that only goes this far would still be the most significant Republican policy achievement in a generation.  After either of these options is attempted, Republicans could look for paths to achieve more outside of the reconciliation process, by administrative action and perhaps through something like the Cassidy-Collins bill that would give states the option to retain Obamacare’s rules or adopt a more consumer-friendly, deregulated alternative framework (and which might get some Democratic votes). In other words, a bill pursued now could do more than the House bill now sets out to do, or it could do less. Presenting a partial step as a full one and pre-negotiating particular insurance-rule changes based on expectations about the Senate parliamentarian just doesn’t make for a coherent product.  Changes in one of these directions could now come through the work of the House committees or the Rules Committee. But they are more likely to happen, if at all, in the Senate. For that to happen, though, this process will need to get that far. And the substantive incoherence of this first version of the bill presents an obstacle to that happening. The score it receives from the CBO probably will too.  It is much too early to draft eulogies for this effort. Meaningful success remains entirely plausible. But the intense emphasis on speed and pure momentum is likely to undermine that prospect rather than advance it now. And in any case, momentum depends on a strong, successful push at the start. This could have started better, and it needs to end smarter. 
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Democratic Women Wearing White to Trump Congressional Speech

4yrs ago from Washington Examiner
Members of the House Democratic Women's Working Group will channel the suffragette movement when they wear white to President Trump's Tuesday night joint address to Congress. In a statement, Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., said they will be wearing white to unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century. Frankel chairs the Democratic Women's Working Group, which said their commitment to women's rights includes affordable healthcare and Planned Parenthood, equal pay, paid sick and family leave, affordable child care, secure retirement and lives free from fear and violence. Frankel also asked other Democratic members of the House — there are 66 — to wear white to stand in solidarity with the women of our nation. According to the National Women's Party, white symbolizes the quality of our purpose.
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Child-Care and Paid-Leave Policies That Work for Working Parents

5yrs ago from National Review
We are three mothers who have experienced firsthand the challenges of balancing work and family, including time off after childbearing and finding affordable, high-quality child care. We are also social scientists who believe in work as a path to economic opportunity, and we have analyzed the implications of leave and child-care policy for the economy and American families. In our personal experiences and scholarly work, we see a policy environment that has missed significant opportunities to support families and foster economic growth. Conservatives in particular have been slow to realize the benefits of these policies, but 2017 offers the GOP a huge opportunity to change that. Currently, the federal government has a patchwork of policies to help offset child-care costs. Some, such as the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, are intended to offset costs associated with child-rearing more broadly. Others, such as the Child and Dependent Care Credit, specifically offset child-care expenses, meaning costs for the care of a child while the parent works or goes to school. In addition, through block grants to states, the federal government subsidizes care for low-income families. Our estimates suggest that the government spends approximately $16 billion per year on child-care assistance, not counting what is provided through the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. Even with such large public investments, this system of child-care assistance is largely inadequate. It transfers large chunks of money to those who are better off rather than targeting them to those who need them the most. In doing so, it fails to realize employment gains for families who would benefit the most from work income. The reason for this is that the tax credits are either non-refundable, such as the Dependent Care Credit, or only partially refundable, like the Child Tax Credit. This means that for the bottom 40 percent of households without a tax liability, there is no direct cash transfer to help offset child-care expenses. The EITC is much better targeted toward low-income households and is refundable, but it is not directly linked to child-care expenses and is dispensed in a lump sum toward the end of the year, which limits its usefulness in meeting the daily costs of child care or even the monthly expenses associated with center-based care. The Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) offers more options for low-income families and those on welfare, but it has limited reach. Some estimates suggest that, due to funding limitations, the CCDF serves only 12–15 percent of eligible families and 40 percent of poor families (those under 100 percent of the federal poverty level). And questions remain about the quality of care those that are served receive, and how well subsidized care meets the realities of today’s labor market, which increasingly functions outside of regular business hours. The inadequacies of this system coincide with rising costs. Child-care costs have grown significantly over the last several decades. According to Child Care Aware of America, child care is “unaffordable” in 49 states, often exceeding the cost of tuition, housing, transportation, or food. A survey by Pew Research Center reinforces these findings, revealing that child-care costs average 7 percent of income for high-income households but almost 40 percent for low-income families. The lack of reliable, affordable child care is driving many families to choose lower-quality informal sources of care over formal day-care centers, or to avoid working altogether. Both decisions can have dire consequences for the health and well-being of lower-income American families. Solutions offered by Democrats include increasing access to child-care assistance for families no matter their economic circumstances. One proposal would cap child-care expenses for families at 10 percent of their income. This would create perverse incentives for families to seek the most expensive care, while violating principles of fiscal responsibility and threatening to further increase child-care costs. Offering a different approach, recent Republican proposals favor tax deductions for children, some not necessarily linked directly to child-care expenses, which could be used to offset such expenses. The problem with deductions is that they would be yet another tax benefit for high-income families, while providing no help to those lower-income households who already have no federal tax liability. Expansions of the Child Tax Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit, as proposed by Republicans, would go to all eligible families with children, even those with a stay-at-home parent and no child-care expenses. Of course, concern that any child-care assistance unfairly favors working parents over those who stay home is valid. But tax preferences for stay-at-home parents should not be confused with child-care assistance, the main purpose of which is to offset expenses that permit work for those who choose it. For child-care assistance to meet the principles of supporting choice and fiscal viability, it needs to be narrowly targeted to those families that actually have child-care expenses related to a working parent. Some may still view child-care assistance as unfair to stay-at-home parents, but it actually offers more choice than the status quo. Some may still view child-care assistance as unfair to stay-at-home parents, but it actually offers more choice than the status quo. It is important to remember that for most families, the decision for a spouse to stay home or work is not in fact a choice: When polled, a significant number of low-income mothers reported that they would like full-time jobs to support their families better. It is also critical to remember that many of the wage-supplement programs, as well as cash welfare, that are available to low-income households are contingent on work, a conservative ideal. If work is truly the path to economic security and upward mobility, policies that allow individuals to remain in the work force are key. Child-care assistance is one policy that research consistently shows increases employment among low-income populations. Another critical issue is paid family leave. While the federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows individuals unpaid leave at the time of the birth of a child or an adoption, or in order to care for oneself or family when illness strikes, no federal paid-leave policy exists. States are thus experimenting with their own plans for providing paid leave. California has had such a program since 2004. New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and the District of Columbia have since followed suit. Research on existing state programs suggests that parents are more likely to return to work post-birth when they have access to paid leave at the time of birth, and that such leave promotes the health and well-being of both the mother and the child. While state programs have helped families to feel comfortable taking leave when needed, they have also been insufficient in many other ways. Many parents are unable to take the full allowable leave, and they return to work before their health or the health of their child permits because they are afraid that they will lose their job. The amount of wage replacement is also low enough that many are unable to make ends meet at a time when their expenses are high. Other workers are simply unaware of their eligibility for leave; they get by using up vacation and sick days to care for their newborn child, leaving them vulnerable when their own health or the health of their child warrants a sick day. The problems that arise from an inability to take leave are compounded by the lack of good, affordable child care. We need to give much more attention to the design of policies, both at the state and federal levels, that allow working parents to contribute and remain productive at their jobs once their need for time off from work is over. Legitimate questions remain as to why the government, and not the private sector, should take the lead in crafting and implementing such policies. But the ideals of a free market are not in conflict with the values of helping those who are the least well off in a way that encourages economic independence and family well-being. Certainly, some are served well by the private market. They can save for time off to care for a child, and they can afford adequate child care or choose to stay home and not work. But the most vulnerable, whom we encourage to work and become self-sufficient, are largely left without assistance. For these families, a lack of paid leave can result in returning to work too quickly after giving birth or never returning at all, and a lack of affordable child care can mean the difference between economic independence and unemployment. While state programs have helped families feel comfortable taking leave when needed, they have also been insufficient in many other ways. On both fronts, we propose a new way, which involves fixing the existing system first before layering new programs on top of it. Three key principles govern our views on the role of government in providing paid family leave and child-care assistance. First, we believe in creating more choices for families. Second, we believe any reforms should be designed in a way that is fiscally responsible, given current budget constraints. Third, we believe that assistance should be targeted to those who need it most — those for whom the lack of paid leave and the high cost of quality child care are actually barriers to employment — with the aim of promoting economic independence and upward mobility. The current system of tax credits and many of the current proposals from Republicans and Democrats fail on one or more of these fronts. The core of our child-care-assistance proposal is to make the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable for low- and middle-income families, to index the credit to inflation in child-care costs, and to provide it  monthly or quarterly to allow parents the ability to secure child care and return to work. Presumably, this would reduce the need for government subsidies through the Child Care Development Fund, since these same families would now be eligible for refundable tax credit, and it would also reduce the need for the employer-sponsored tax credits, from which some savings could be incurred. Significantly, this benefit structure should be paired with an examination of child-care regulations, which often limit the supply of care and increase its price without improving its quality. Our proposal would increase flexibility for parents who want or need to work, and it would be both fiscally responsible and targeted to those most in need. For some, talk of child-care support may conjure up images of children being shepherded to institutional day cares run by the government. This would not be the case. The refundable tax credit could be used to pay for caregiving of the parent’s choice, including nannies, pre-schools, and private child-care facilities. Such a reform could easily be incorporated and paid for by a broader tax overhaul that modernizes how we treat work and family. For example, in the 21st century, it may make more sense to help families improve their economic prospects by reducing the costs of work than it does to deduct interest paid up to $1 million on mortgages on first and second homes. #related#We would also propose that serious consideration be given to a federal paid-leave policy. States have been slow to adopt such policies, even though the benefits to family prosperity and well-being are clear. And private business, while instituting policies that help some, has largely failed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Moreover, the current patchwork of policies across states and employers leads to a non-uniform and distortionary structure of benefits. Employees might be making decisions about where to work based on the availability and generosity of these policies, and businesses that offer these policies might have an easier time recruiting and retaining talented workers than those that are unable to offer these policies. A uniform federal policy, available to all employees regardless of which state or employer they choose, would help prevent this type of job-lock. The benefits of these policies for the economy and workers are clear. What’s more, they align with conservative principles and priorities. Conservatives tend to value family, pro-work benefit programs, and economic independence — paid-leave and child-care policies such as those proposed above are consistent with all three, and we would urge the incoming administration and Congress to consider supporting them. — Aparna Mathur is a resident scholar in economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Abby McCloskey is the founder of McCloskey Policy LLC. Angela Rachidi is a research fellow in poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute. 
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The Health-Care Double Bind

5yrs ago from National Review
Republicans have begun the process of repealing the grievously misnamed and soon-to-be-unlamented Affordable Care Act through the process of budget reconciliation, a parliamentary maneuver the Democrats had threatened to use to pass the ACA over minority Republican opposition. (In the end, it was not needed, though significant changes to the law were made via subsequent reconciliation bills.) As with President Barack Obama’s pen-and-phone aggrandizement of presidential power and Senate Democrats’ weakening of the filibuster, Chuck Schumer’s party is going to regret a great deal of what Harry Reid’s party did. It is not the case, as Democrats insist, that Republicans are simply repealing Obamacare without having given sufficient thought to what ought to replace it. Congressional Republicans finally seem to have learned that their prior strategy — simply insisting that a set of incoherent policies causing a great deal of stress and uncertainty constituted “the greatest health-care system in the world” and doing nothing more — was a mistake, a critical one. But there is a problem. There are two big, important pieces of the Affordable Care Act that will be of concern as Republicans go about replacing it. The first is the so-called individual mandate, which actually isn’t all that much of a mandate but which theoretically requires the great majority of American adults to purchase a federally defined minimum level of health insurance. The second is the rule requiring that insurance companies cover “preexisting conditions,” which mandates that U.S. insurance companies participate in the fantasy that we can insure against events that already have happened. The preexisting-coverage rule defies economic reality (also space-time reality) and hence is the popular part of the law. The individual mandate is less popular, because people do not like being told what to do by the government, especially if it costs them money. You can see the obvious problem here. We have to have an individual mandate because we want a preexisting-coverage mandate. If insurers have to pick up the expenses for everyone who shows up at their door with lung cancer or HIV or severe diabetes, that has to be paid for. The only way to pay for it is a rule that requires everybody to have insurance; otherwise, economic self-interest ensures that most people have no reason to pay for insurance until they become sick, meaning that they pay no premiums until they have expenses that will far exceed them. An insurance market made up exclusively of sick people is financially unsustainable. Together, the individual mandate and the preexisting-coverage rule make up the basic policy architecture of Obamacare. There isn’t a feasible way to have the popular preexisting-conditions coverage without the unpopular mandate. In fact, in order to make the system work, we would need to put some more teeth into that mandate: Because the penalties associated with it are very mild, many people, disproportionately young and healthy, prefer to pay the fine than pay a great deal more for insurance. Hence, the pool of newly insured people under Obamacare has been much sicker than insurance companies had expected, which has them squealing. And more than that: It has them pulling out of ACA exchanges and markets around the country, leaving consumers with fewer choices and much higher premiums than they had expected. If you want to keep the preexisting-coverage rule — and Republicans say they do — then you are going to end up with Obamacare, or at least a version of it. It might be a slightly better or slightly worse version, but that is what you will have. There are a few ideas for finessing that problem away, such as creating a series of “high-risk pools” or a single federal high-risk pool for sick people seeking health insurance. What this means is that the sick people without insurance who want it would go into a separate insurance pool full of other people likely to require lots of expensive medical care. Naturally, the premiums in this market would be much higher than in the regular market, meaning that state governments and the federal government would be expected to subsidize them heavily, lest sick people be entirely priced out of the market and we’re right back where we started. But this creates the same moral hazard as the familiar Obamacare system: Why not just wait until you are sick to buy insurance if government is picking up the economic penalty for being in the high-risk pool? The way to cut this Gordian knot is to treat insurance like insurance. Insurance is not a way to pre-pay for health care, though we insist on treating it as though it is. Insurance is not a way to pre-pay for health care, though we insist on treating it as though it is. Properly understood, insurance is not a health-care product at all: It is a financial product, the purpose of which is to mitigate the risk of incurring large and unexpected costs, whether that is damage to an automobile (your car insurance does not pay for oil changes) or health-care costs. It is necessarily prospective, which is to say, forward-looking. No one can say whether you’ll have a heart attack tomorrow or get brain cancer in 20 years, though our actuaries are really very good at determining how many people out of a million will have a problem like that in any given year, and what it will cost to treat them. But we insist on trying to bend insurance into a retrospective product, as though it were possible to play the odds on something that already has happened. So long as we try to push off the obligation for paying for preexisting conditions onto financial firms — which is what insurance companies are — we are simply using those companies to launder health-care benefits that are in reality publicly financed, in part or in total. It would make much more sense to do the opposite of what the pollsters would advise: Keep the unpopular mandate — strengthen it — and do away with the popular preexisting-conditions rule, replacing it with stronger regulation protecting people with insurance from losing their coverage once they become sick or grow old. For the people without coverage? Medicaid stinks, but in a reformed version it is the most obvious solution, a way to pay directly for health-care services rather than paying insurance companies to pay for services, as though putting a financial middleman in the equation were going to improve things. #related#Ultimately, health-care reform that treats insurance as insurance means that Americans will simply pay out-of-pocket for most of their medical needs, with insurance in most cases picking up the cost of catastrophic accidents and illnesses. Empowering consumers to do this means creating a real market with real prices, which simply does not exist now: Try getting three competing quotes on a 2017 Honda Civic and then do the same with an appendectomy and see which market has real prices. That will be a long and difficult reform project, one that will not be achieved through a single piece of legislation, or indeed through legislation alone. Good health-care reform is not going to be popular, because paying bills is not popular. But so long as we are trying to pass the bill on to someone else, health care will remain a mess. — Kevin D. Williamson is National Review’s roving correspondent.
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