Ivanka Trump is right: â€śIt is not acceptable that, in America today, 1 in 4 women go back to work two weeks after having a child,â€ť she told CBSâ€™s Margaret Brennan in an interview that aired on Sundayâ€™s â€śFace the Nation.â€ť
Disgracefully, the United States remains one of just three countries in the world without statutory paid maternity leave. This month finally saw some small progress toward fixing this injustice when Trumpâ€™s father signed a defense-spending bill that instituted 12 weeks of paid parental leave for government workers.
From her CBS interview, in which Trump touted â€ś2 1/2 years of building our coalitions of support for this policy,â€ť youâ€™d think this was the result of years of Trumpâ€™s hard work. The truth is rather different. According to The Washington Post, itâ€™s her fatherâ€™s opponents whom government workers have to thank for the new benefits: In negotiations over the defense bill, House Democrats used President Donald Trumpâ€™s desire for a Space Force to extract funding for the new paid leave policy.
One reason to suspect House Democratsâ€™ version of events is the more accurate is that the paid family leave bills that Ivanka Trump has supported donâ€™t look like the straightforward 12-week guarantee in the defense bill. In the Brennan interview, Trump touted a bill advanced by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Rather than paid leave, the Cassidy-Sinema bill would offer families a loan of up to $5,000 to cover time off, and which would be repaid by cuts to the familiesâ€™ child tax credits. A previous Trump favorite, proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had a similar structure: Let families cover time off by paying for their leave out of future Social Security income.
In fact, the new parental leave benefits for government employees closely resemble those in the FAMILY Act, proposed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., which would provide all workers with 12 weeks of paid leave. Yet in her interview with Brennan, Trump dismissed the FAMILY Act as â€śstale.â€ť
The contradictions between what Trump has advocated and what she now claims credit for also include the family leave policies at her own company. Hereâ€™s how Trump described it to Brennan: â€śThe fourth person I hired was pregnant when I hired her. So we put a policy in place for her.â€ť
But that â€śfourth personâ€ť remembers things differently: In a Facebook note, the companyâ€™s former chief marketing officer Marissa Kraxberger wrote that employees â€śfought long and hard to get [Trump] to finally agree to 8 weeks paid maternity leave.â€ť
Indeed, the reason Trumpâ€™s employees had to convince her on paid leave is the same reason that the policies sheâ€™s supporting fall so short: Not everyone has her resources. â€śI can see how it might be possible to go back to work after having a baby when you have a lot of help at home,â€ť wrote Kraxberger. And borrowing against a future child tax credit or retirement savings is easy for the wealthy. But for most Americans thatâ€™s a real sacrifice to make to receive a fraction of the benefits countless other countries have implemented with ease.
Still, despite all her disseminating, Trump deserves some minimal credit for not getting in the way of a parental leave policy different from the one she supports. Perhaps she can use this victory to encourage other parts of her fatherâ€™s administration to show some more compassion for families?
As Brennan pointed out, â€śyou were vocal in your opposition to the family separation policy when it came to immigration. . . . We went and looked, and Homeland Security says there are still around 900 children who remain separated from their families. Is that something you continue to remain engaged on when it comes to immigration?â€ť
â€śImmigration is not part of my portfolio,â€ť replied Trump. Oh well, so much for some compassion.
James Downie is The Washington Postâ€™s Digital Opinions Editor.