Saturday, January 9, 2016

Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton on Paid Family Leave

While Bernie Sanders was in Iowa yesterday, he called for paid family and medical leave in a short news conference. No cable news stations broke in to their regularly scheduled programming to air this LIVE — like they do every time Donald Trump speaks at a rally. (His press release is here.)

Hillary Clinton explained her proposal for paid family leave, and it shared a lot with other politicians’ plans: 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a new child or a sick family member or to recover from an illness or injury. The difference was how she plans to pay for it. Her plan differs from the Family Act (co-sponsored by Bernie Sanders and congressional Democrats). It would offer similar benefits, but would be paid for by new payroll taxes.

The “Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act” or the FAMILY Act would create an independent trust fund within the Social Security Administration to collect fees and provide benefits. This trust would be funded by employee and employer contributions of 0.2 percent of wages each, creating a self-sufficient program that would not add to the federal budget.

Benefit levels, based on existing successful state programs in New Jersey and California, would equal 66 percent of an individual’s typical monthly wages up to a capped monthly amount that would be indexed for inflation. The proposal makes leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer and regardless of whether such individual is currently employed by an employer, self-employed or currently unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history. In this way it would apply to young, part-time and low-wage workers.

For example, the average woman worker earning the median weekly wage would only need to contribute $1.38 per week (for a total of $72.04 per year) into the program, and even the highest wage earners would have a maximum contribution of $4.36 per week, or $227.40 per year. This means that for less than ONE tall brewed Starbucks coffee ($1.85) or about the cost of ONE venti latte per week (over $4) we could create a program that will be so beneficial for our families.

The average full time working woman earning the median weekly wage would receive a total of $5,514.48 if she took the full 12 weeks of paid leave. Operating the trust fund through the Social Security Administration would enable the program to capitalize on a number of administrative efficiencies thus decreasing the need to create new bureaucracies.

Hillary Clinton has always said that she won't raise taxes on "the middle-class", who to her means, anybody making up to $250,000 a year — which is the top 1% of wage earners. A centrist/moderate Republican-LITE Democratic think tank (known as Third Way) said Clinton is "outlining an approach to taxes that should lift the sagging fortunes of middle-class families — and attract votes."

Senator Bernie Sanders challenged Hillary Clinton yesterday over her refusal to increase payroll taxes to expand family leave, arguing that alternative approaches would jeopardize funding for the proposed benefit. "Here is an area where Secretary Clinton and I have a different point of view," he said in his short speech at the DoubleTree Hotel. "She has talked in vague and general terms about the need for paid family leave and medical leave. She has not described how she will pay for it."

Bernie Sanders argued that a more a broad-based tax enshrines middle-class benefits and keeps them from being gutted down the line. He estimated the average cost to a worker under his plan would be $1.61 a week: "If Lyndon Baines Johnson had taken the same position as Secretary Clinton that a small payroll tax was unacceptable, we would not have Medicare in this country."

Bernie Sanders' plan would save American workers thousands of dollars a year, because they would no longer have to pay premiums for healthcare insurance plans (for Obamnacare or any other healthcare plan).

A senior Clinton adviser for Hillary claimed HER PLAN would be paid for with increased taxes on the wealthy, but would not impose additional costs on businesses, including small businesses. Does that mean she'll increase taxes on rich people (if they don't own a business) and only tax people making more than $250,000 a year?

Clinton's campaign offered no details as to who would administer the plan and whether the funding would be subject to annual appropriations. The Clinton adviser also said that Bernie Sanders' pending legislation is not supported by AARP (which is really a front organization for insurance companies), which worries about an increased payroll tax.

* IMHO, the Alliance for Retired Americans is a much better advocate than AARP on issues Social Security and Medicare for the elderly and those on disability.

My thoughts for the day...

1) It's nothing personal against former governor Martin O'Malley and his supports, but, if as the media pundits and Hillary supporters claim, that Bernie is not "electable", then what does that make O'Malley? (All online polls show Bernie beating Hillary by landslides.) Let's be realistic: There is definitely no chance whatsoever that O'Malley will win the Democratic primary, so he should drop out now, and allow the two main contenders to compete. O'Malley has only been a third-wheel distraction. He adds nothing at all to the debates but a shared hostility towards Clinton and Sanders.

2) Dirty tricks by the DNC and Clinton supporters will do nothing at all but divide Democrats, and keep Bernie's voters away from the polls — giving the GOP to the White House. Play fair because many people won't support Hillary is they see her behaving worse than she already has — out of spite, even at risk of having a Republican president. Hillary's scare tactics are both insulting and disgusting. "Vote for me or you might have Trump as President" — even when polls show Bernie beating Trump by wider margins than Hillary.

3) MSNBC's Chris Matthews obviously feels a tingle down his leg for Hillary and wants the Democratic primary decided on one issue and one issue only — guns—or any other issue that will hurt Bernie Sanders. As President of the entire country, Bernie could “evolve” on this issue just like Hillary has on many others. But overall, Bernie’s positions weren’t all that bad (being from the rural State of Vermont). We don’t see auto manufacturers being sued when people use their cars to run down people. Besides, this is the only single issue that Hillary can pound Bernie with. If voters want a President based solely on this ONE VOTE he made 20 years ago, then so be it. They can have Hillary and her damn bankers.

4) If Hillary Clinton isn't an "enabler", but just a "victim" of Bill's past "indiscretions" — that's besides the point, because a vote for Hillary will still put Bill back in the White House and aboard Air Force One again. The DNC and Hillary's supporters are claiming that America has moved past that "scandal" — that it's already been "litigated" — and that there is nothing to see, and we should all just move on. The fact is, many younger people who will be voting don't know the details, and the Hillary people would like us all to just forget and sweep it all under the rug. So they will use "guns" or any other distraction or issue to redirect our attention away from all of the Clinton's past wrongdoings. No, we will not forget, just like Hillary will not be silenced.

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