CBS This Morning deserves credit for having Marco Rubio on the program to discuss a conservative proposal, his alternative for paid family leave. The other two networks on Thursday, ABC and NBC, couldn’t be bothered to talk about his legislation. However, CBS’s hosts complained about the idea of allowing Americans to borrow from their Social Security in order for paid time off with a new child.
The plan, hailed by National Review, would allow Americans to use part of their future Social Security benefits after childbirth or adoption. In return, retirement benefits will be slightly delayed. Co-host Alex Wagner complained: “But, Senator, isn't this really asking working class Americans to choose between retirement security and caring for a new child?”
Co-host Norah O’Donnell was also skeptical:
Senator, I was fascinated to learn that only one in ten workers receive paid family leave from their employers. That's not a lot. Certainly people need paid family leave. Why, though, do you want it to come from Social Security to pay for it?
Rubio pragmatically replied: “If somebody has a better idea, we're open to it. If they have a better idea that doesn’t raise taxes, we're all open for it.”
Despite the skeptical tone taken towards a conservative proposal, at least CBS allowed a Republican on to promote conservative agenda. That’s not something often seen on the networks.
A transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more:
CBS This Morning
NORAH O’DONNELL: Senator Marco Rubio will introduce a bill today to help parents get paid family leave. It’s called the Economic Security for New Parents Act. The measure would give parents two months of paid leave by pulling from their future Social Security benefits. Workers would then delay taking Social Security for three to six months when they retire. The bill would be the first new option for families since the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. That law gives employees unpaid leave for 12 weeks to care for a family member. Senator Marco Rubio is with us from Capitol Hill for an interview you'll see first only on CBS This Morning. Good morning, senator.
MARCO RUBIO: Good morning, good morning.
O’DONNELL: So how many people would this affect?
RUBIO: Well, it depends how many people want to take the option. Let's explain the why. Why are we doing this? There's nothing we can do for our children that's better than allowing their parents to spend more time and be involved in their lives, especially from the early days. I think it’s wrong and we’ve all seen this. People that work somewhere and they have a child and within two weeks of a cesarean section or three weeks of giving birth they have to hurry back to work because they can't afford to miss one paycheck.
In fact, it's startling how many parents, particularly first time mothers and people who just have children in their family, go on public assistance because they loose their job or they can't draw a paycheck any longer. So what we're doing is giving people an option. No one is required to do this, but everyone will have the option of saying, “I'm going to take some of my benefits.” These are your benefits — not anyone else’s — and take a portion earlier because I need that money now. People can do it now with 401(k)s. We should be able to do it with Social Security.
O’DONNELL: Senator, I was fascinated to learn that only one in ten workers receive paid family leave from their employers. That's not a lot. Certainly people need paid family leave. Why, though, do you want it to come from Social Security to pay for it?
RUBIO: I prefer it come from the private sector, but as you just said, only one in ten have it. I hope that number will grow over the years. By the way, the irony is the more money you make, the more likely you're going to have it. And the less money you make, the less likely you are to have it. If you have $300,000 at an investment bank, you probably have paid family leave. But if you're making $40,000 a year working at a small business who can’t afford to provide it, you do not have it.
As far as coming from there, if somebody has a better idea, we're open to it. If they have a better idea that doesn’t raise taxes, we're all open for it. But I can tell you, this is a real problem. We cannot — If we're serious in this country of helping our children, it begins from the day they're born by allowing their parents to be involved in the early days of their lives especially and that should not be a bankruptcy-inducing event. And this is one option that we think is pretty creative to allow them to take some of their money instead of way 30 years to get some of it and take some of it early when they really need it.
ALEX WAGNER: But, Senator, isn't this really asking working class Americans to choose between retirement security and caring for a new child?
RUBIO: No. Ultimately, right now they don’t even really have a choice at all of how their going to pay for their bills at the front end. Many people right now, if you have a child, your job requires that they have to give your 12 weeks of pay but they don't have to pay you. So they don’t have to pay you. So, you’re basically going to go without any pay for four to eight weeks. Most people can't afford that. We have people going on public assistance. So this is just an option. No one is going to be forced to do this. Some people decide they don’t want to do it. It doesn’t make sense for them. But it’s an option that will be available for people that they don’t have right now. Because as it stands today, if we do nothing, you're going to continue the see, as you just said, nine out of ten workers will basically not draw any income during that period of time, causing real economic strain right now.
ALEX MASON: Senator, President Trump tweeted yesterday that attorney general Jeff sessions should end the special counsel's Russia investigation. He's called it, again, a rigged witch hunt. Is that obstruction of justice?
RUBIO: Well, I don’t know what the legal definition of that would be as regards to tweets. I don’t think that’s ever been litigated. Here's the bottom line. I'm not going to spend my time here in the U.S. Senate waking up and responding to tweets every day. Okay? I know that's what you guys are paid to do, and that's fine. If that's something that's a directive on public policy, but I'm going to spend my time in the U.S. Senate on paid family leave. I’m going to spend my time in the U.S. Senate fighting against the efforts of the Chinese to overtake us in the geopolitical stage. I'm going to spend my time fighting for the people of Florida on issues that are important.