Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: Every Other Industrialized Nation Has Paid Leave, Why Not Us?

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is working with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) to make paid family leave for all American workers a reality, with a proposal to grant 12 weeks of paid leave at up to $1,000 a week as an "earned benefit" by creating a small payroll tax.

The tax, which comes in at two-tenths of 1 percent of workers' salaries, would amount to about $100 for a worker making $50,000 a year. And while many members of Congress, especially those on the left, think American workers deserve better options for paid leave, they haven't shown overwhelming support for Gillibrand's proposal.

Gillibrand sat down for an interview with Salon's Joan Walsh last week to discuss the plan, which has garnered 88 co-sponsors. The senator called the economic repercussions for failing to provide paid leave "absurd."

"Just because you have a family emergency, it shouldn’t mean you’re going to have to ramp off your career, take a different job, quit for a certain amount of time -- all of which damages the strength of the family, and the economy," she told Salon. "It’s such a negative drag on the economy."

So why the lack of support for paid leave when, as Gillibrand points out, "every other industrialized nation has it"? Gillibrand posits most members of Congress come from a place of privilege and can't relate to American workers who would benefit from such a program.

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