During a scheduled speech in Pennsylvania Tuesday evening, Donald Trump – standing alongside his daughter, Ivanka – shared his plan to help working families. However, despite the fact that offering a family leave policy represents a welcome departure for a GOP politician, Trump’s plan is not only lacking in actual support for parents, but is also incredibly sexist and short-sighted.
It’s no secret that when it comes to supporting working families, the U.S. continuously falls short of most other industrialized nations. In fact, America is one of the only remaining countries with no mandated leave policy in place for new parents. Combined with the fact that most U.S. families have two working parents, the issue of family leave is an important one – and one that’s finally getting some attention this election.
In his speech, Trump described his proposed “Child Affordability Plan,” which would allow parents to deduct child care expenses from income taxes (something that is already available), create “Dependent Care Savings” accounts, and provide six weeks of guaranteed, paid maternity leave. Trump declared to the crowd that his plan is “pro-family, it’s pro-child, it’s pro-worker.”
But there are some glaring problems with his plan. For instance, in allotting six weeks of maternity care, Trump completely neglects half of all parents: fathers. Even putting aside the paltry six weeks of leave Trump’s plan calls for (Hillary Clinton’s plan proposes 12 weeks of paid family leave, and the average paid leave policy around the world is around 15 weeks), it’s still incredible that in Trump’s America, only women are allowed to take time off for a new baby.
Where does that leave gay fathers? Single fathers? Families with stay-at-home dads?
This plan really shouldn’t be a surprise coming from someone who has publicly shared on multiple occasions that he has taken no part in rearing his children, beyond the financial. In Trump’s mind, parenting is solely women’s responsibility, despite the fact that nearly 70 percent of women with children under 18 are actively in the workforce. According to Trump, women should be responsible not only for their jobs, but for all family responsibilities as well.
Reality, however, shows that in many families with two working parents, there’s a sharing of labor when it comes to childcare. While women still do more work around the house, men’s participation is growing. Under Trump’s presidency, however, the idea of egalitarian households will get tossed to the wayside in favor of old-fashioned, “traditional” notions of a woman’s place being in the home, with her children.
Ivanka, who has previously spoken out about work-family balance, introduced her father to the crowd of suburban moms Tuesday, stating, “As a society we need to create policies that champion all parents, enabling the American family to thrive.”
But it’s hard to imagine how this plan will champion all parents if it leaves out half of them. Do the Trumps really believe American families can only thrive with women at the helm, or that fathers shouldn’t have the opportunity to support their families, beyond a paycheck? This policy proposal not only pigeonholes mothers as the primary caregiver, but suggests fathers are not up to the same task.
Trump’s plan is, at most, a tiny Band-Aid to address a big, real, systemic problem. Six weeks of paid leave given solely to women might be better than what we have right now (12 weeks of unpaid leave that many parents can’t afford to take), but it is nowhere near sufficient. If Trump truly cared about championing families, he would offer mandated paid leave in line with what other countries provide across the globe, and he would recognize that paid leave should be available for both men and women. Anything else is a slap in the face.