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Family Leave

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I have stated before that I don’t think a Sanders presidency is all that different than a Clinton presidency, which is why I have written very little about the primary. But that doesn’t mean I don’t fully welcome Sanders’ presence in the primary, precisely because he has likely pushed Clinton to the left on a number of issues. I also welcome him because he pushes for common sense expansions to the welfare state that would simply improve the lives of working Americans, yet are not central to the agenda of all too many Democratic politicians, not to mention the Republicans openly engaging in class warfare on the poor.

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders highlighted his support Sunday for a plan to provide three months of paid leave after a family has a child and challenged Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to embrace the same legislation.

Clinton has spoken out strongly in favor of providing workers with paid family leave but also stressed her commitment in recent days to not raising taxes on the middle class to pay for new initiatives.

The plan backed by Sanders, a senator from Vermont, would be paid for with an increase in the payroll tax that would cost the average worker about $72 a year.

“You think that we can afford $1.39 per week?” Sanders asked a crowd of more than 400 people, composed largely of college students, gathered for a town hall meeting here the day after the second Democratic presidential debate. “It is unconscionable that millions of new parents in this country are forced back to work because they don’t have the income to stay home with their newborn babies.”

Clinton however is saying no new taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year. Now, I totally agree that soaking the rich is the best way to pay for all these programs and the rich can certainly afford it. But can we afford $1.39 a week for a real benefit that would allow families to stay with newborns? Yes, of course. That’s just common sense. If Clinton wants to come back with a way to fund that benefit specifically by taxing the rich, that’s fine, but for real concrete benefits taxes are not a bad thing. The anti-tax hysteria in this nation, which, let’s face it, is at the core of national ideology and mythology, makes open support of higher taxes for anything a hard row to hoe in politics. So I’m not confident people would actually vote for the Sanders plan. But it certainly does make sense. Plus Sanders has other great ideas that would come directly from the rich, such as free college tuition.

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