Media that empowers working people – that's how we build a More Perfect Union.

Don't Miss a Video!

Access our exclusive reporting and rapid response actions directly in your inbox, so you don’t miss a beat in the fight for working people nationwide.

Be a part of a community backing up independent journalism with action.

Ideas

Have a story to tell or idea to share?
Email [email protected]
© 2021 More Perfect Union Action

Together we can build power for working people.

We’re asking questions that really matter, and telling the stories of people who really need to be seen and heard.

You can support our work by donating today.

Amount

Make It Monthly

Don't Miss a Video!

Access our exclusive reporting and rapid response actions directly in your inbox, so you don’t miss a beat in the fight for working people nationwide.

Be a part of a community backing up independent journalism with action.

This Powerful Democrat Is Gutting Biden’s Paid Family Leave Program

House Democrat Richard Neal wrecked President Biden's proposal for paid family leave, turning it into a complex and inefficient giveaway to the insurance industry.

YouTube Thumbnail

by Matt Bruenig, Founder of People’s Policy Project

The United States is the only country in the developed world that lacks a national parental leave program, and one powerful Democrat in Congress — doing the bidding of the insurance industry — is trying to keep it that way.

During the presidential election, Joe Biden promised that he would finally fix America’s paid leave crisis by providing parents cash benefits through the Social Security Administration to cover a portion of their wages for 12 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child. Twelve weeks of paid leave is a modest amount compared to our peer countries, but it would be a decent start for a country that currently offers parents no help at all.

But, in the last few months, the Biden plan has hit an obstacle in the House of Representatives. Congressman Richard Neal, the chair of the powerful Ways & Means Committee, has replaced the Biden paid leave plan with a much worse proposal endorsed by the private insurance industry.

Under the Neal proposal, parental leave would no longer be provided publicly through the Social Security program. Instead, the federal government would give cash to businesses so that they could pay private insurance companies to provide paid leave benefits for their workers.

The Neal plan has won the praise of the Life Insurance Lobby and support from one of the nation’s largest insurance companies, Sun Life. But it would be a disaster for new parents who would be forced to navigate a much more complicated system run by insurance companies that make money by denying benefit claims and adding wasteful administrative costs. It would also be a disaster for the federal budget because businesses with workforces that take a below-average amount of paid leave would be able to extract money out of the system for their own profit.

In addition to needlessly turning Biden’s paid leave ambitions into a private insurance giveaway, the Neal benefit proposal has three major design problems that would severely reduce the effectiveness of the program.

The first problem is that new parents who do not work in the 3 to 6 months prior to giving birth would be ineligible to receive any benefits from the program. This means that parents who are still in education, parents with work-limiting disabilities, and parents facing an unluckily-timed spell of unemployment would be excluded from the program. Altogether this design would keep around 1 in 3 new mothers from claiming benefits.

The second problem is that the program has no minimum benefit level. Instead, workers only receive a benefit equal to, at most, 85 percent of the wages they were earning prior to having a child. Low-wage workers who cannot afford to give up 15 percent of their pay would not be able to access the program even though they are technically eligible for it.

The third problem is that the program provides 12 weeks of leave per parent with no option to transfer any of those weeks between parents. This means that two-parent families are eligible for twice as much leave as one-parent families, which also means higher child care bills for one-parent families.

Passing a poorly designed paid leave proposal is a dangerous political game for Democrats. Voters would rightly blame them for the difficult and inefficient program that they’ve now been forced to deal with, wiping away what should have been a political winner. When we make voters feel government can’t deliver, it hurts the entirety of the progressive agenda.

It would be very easy to create a paid leave system without these problems. Congress could pass a bill that establishes a public paid leave program through the Social Security Administration that pays all new parents at least the minimum wage during their parental leave period and that gives families a total of 24 weeks that they could split between parents in whatever way they prefer. But Congress needs to act quickly. If it doesn’t, Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda will fall prey to the Insurance Company Agenda.

Matt Bruenig is the founder of the People’s Policy Project.

The Latest

YouTube Thumbnail
The Media Is Ignoring An Economic Boom For Workers
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Wall Street Buying Mobile Home Parks?
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How Casino Workers Were Left Out Of Clean Air Laws
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Orlando Airport Workers Are Fighting Back Against Overwork And Underpayment
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Inflation Explained: The Real Reason Prices Are Going Up
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Largest Strike in America: Columbia Student Workers Demand a Fair Contract
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How A Multi-Billion Dollar Bank Merger Could Devastate This Connecticut City
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
3 Ways Biden Can Lower Drug Prices Immediately
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
PetSmart Workers Expose Horrifying Conditions For Workers & Pets
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Cori Bush And Democrats Finalizing A Plan To Lower Insulin Costs
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Kaiser Health Care Workers Are Ready To Strike
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
‘Everything About Walmart Is a Lie’: Walmart Workers Demand $15 Minimum Wage
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Untold History: How America Got (And Lost) Universal Child Care
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Google Threatens Water Supply of Drought-Stricken Town
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
NYC Taxi Drivers Won The Debt Relief They Hungered For
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
HelloFresh Workers Expose Horrific Working Conditions
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Fight To Democratize The UAW
Read More
More Perfect Union’s Striketober Coverage
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Cheer-Opoly That Needs Government Regulation
Read More
POLL: The Voters Who Democrats Covet Are Cheering On The Strike Wave
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Starbucks Spreads Anti-Union Lies In Forced Employee Meetings
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Dollar General Is Illegally Union-Busting
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Most Consequential Election You’ve Never Heard Of
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Elizabeth Warren Debunks Republicans’ Lies On Taxes
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
NYC Taxi Drivers Hunger Strike For Debt Relief
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Millionaire Developers Plot To Overturn India Walton’s Election in Buffalo
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Striking Kellogg’s Workers Expose Company’s Lies
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Most Pro-Labor President? Here’s What Joe Biden Must Do
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
This Powerful Democrat Is Gutting Biden’s Paid Family Leave Program
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
SCOOP: Dollar General Caught Union Busting
Read More
Strike Tracker: Who In Congress Is Speaking Out For Workers?
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Here’s Why 10,000 John Deere Workers Are on Strike
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Burn The Forest To Save It, Firefighters Argue
Read More
10,000 John Deere Workers Are Officially On Strike
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Ohio’s New Election Maps Are So Rigged Even the GOP Governor Says They’re Illegal
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
CVS Workers Refuse To Settle For Nickels And Dimes
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Working 120 Days Straight: Kellogg’s Workers Go on Strike to Protest Brutal Conditions
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Netflix and Amazon Film Crews Expose Horrific Conditions On Set
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Inside Scoop On The Campaign To Primary Kyrsten Sinema
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Amazon Worker Died After Being Assigned To COVID Testing Team
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Voters Rage At Rep. Scott Peters For Selling Out On Drug Prices
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
DeJoy Slows Down USPS Mail Service To Speed Up Privatization
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
60,000 Hollywood Crew Workers Gear Up For First-Ever Strike
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Real Reason Grocery Prices Are Skyrocketing
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Starbucks Tries To Crush Historic Union Drive In Buffalo
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Exclusive: Tesla Employee Speaks Out On Rampant Racism At The Company
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How Spotify Is Killing The Music Industry
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Exclusive: Racist Slurs & Toxic Culture At Tesla
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Meet The Democrat Helping To Destroy The Postal Service
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Apple Is Behind One Of The Largest Thefts In History
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How Iowa City Defeated Grubhub
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
A Frito-Lay Worker Was Electrocuted, Denied Medical Care & Stalked by Company Agents
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How Fort Worth Activists Defeated the Dollar Store Invasion
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Forced to Work 12 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week: The Dark Side of Frito-Lay
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The NRA You’ve Never Heard Of Is Blocking a $15 Minimum Wage
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
How NYU Grad Students Won A Major Labor Fight On Their Campus
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
These Drivers Could Defeat Uber & Lyft With Their Own App
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
For Fast-Food Workers, the Pandemic Made a Bad Situation Worse. Now They’re Fighting Back.
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
A Modern Day Sweatshop: The Tesla Factory Secrets Elon Musk Doesn’t Want You To Know
Read More
Drivers Protest Uber & Lyft
Gig Workers Take On Big Tech in Massachusetts
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Striking Alabama Coal Miners Put Their Lives on the Line
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Fired By Elon Musk for Unionizing at Tesla
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Boosts Republican Assault on Democracy
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Real Deal: Mergers Fuel Job Losses
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Republicans Wage War to Deny More Than 800,000 Disabled and Elderly Americans Home Care
Read More
New Poll: Majority of Voters Support the PRO Act and the For the People Act
Read More
Poll Finds Republicans Support Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Dirty Secret Behind Dollar General’s Low Prices
Read More
Majority of Trump Voters & 65% of Americans Support Medicare Expansion
Read More
Workers rally for the PRO Act.
NEW POLL: Bipartisan Support for PRO Act in Arizona, Virginia and Other Key States
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
TV Networks Caught Airing Fake “Interviews” Scripted By Major Corporate Lobby
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
BREAKING: New Details Bolster Likelihood NLRB Will Overturn Amazon Union Election
Read More
Exclusive: Emails Show Amazon Pressured USPS To Install Illegal Dropbox During Union Election
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
NEW REPORT: Amazon’s Most Egregious Illegal Action To Bust The Union Organizing Effort
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
EXPOSED: The Major Corporations Funding Voter Suppression Efforts in Georgia
Read More