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Kamala Harris goes big and bold with proposal for six months of paid family leave

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Sen. Kamala Harris is offering up an expansive new paid family leave proposal. Harris had previously co-sponsored the FAMILY Act, which would provide three months of paid family leave—but now she’s calling for six months. Harris’ plan also calls for families with incomes under $75,000 to get full income replacement, with higher earners getting a lower percentage, while the FAMILY Act provides up to 66%.

Harris’ plan would apply not just to new parents for parental leave, but also to people needing time to care for older children or other family members. Coverage is focusing on Harris not spelling out to the last dollar how the plan would be paid for, but you know what? It’s not that freaking hard to find ways to raise taxes on wealthy people and corporations, especially after Republicans slashed those taxes. (Vox reports, “Harris’s team says funding would come from raising payroll taxes, corporate taxes, and income taxes on the top 1 percent of income earners.”)

This is the kind of policy that basically every other major industrialized nation has, while U.S. politics is built around the notion—backed up by the media—that we can’t afford it. Vast majorities of voters support paid family leave or parental leave or similar policies. So yes, Harris is being bold by the standards of how major politicians and pundits talk, but as a policy, it’s proven worldwide—proven to work for children’s health, women’s ability to stay in the workplace, and gender equality. Getting there will be a fight, particularly as any such plan would have to go through Congress, but good for her for not starting with a compromise plan.

This article was originally published at Daily Kos on October 7, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributor at Daily Kos editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor.

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