Ever since former Vice President Joe Biden picked Senator Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential nominee in the run for the presidency, the news has been swirling about what a major moment Harris’ candidacy has meant for Black and Indian-Americans in terms of representation. Less reported, however, has been how Harris might shift Joe Biden, who is in many ways a centrist Democrat, to the left in terms of major public policy proposals. While Biden supports comprehensive climate change policy, child care proposals, and other major progressive hallmarks, he has not gone as far as Harris did when she was running for the presidency for herself in one major area: paid leave for families.
How Are Their Plans Different?
When Kamala Harris was running for the presidency for herself, one of her policy positions was providing all working families across the country with up to six months of paid family and medical leave. She was not alone in calling for this. Many other candidates at the time asked for just as much paid leave for working parents. But VP Joe Biden still hasn’t budged on his own policy position — only providing 12 weeks to working parents — and perhaps Harris’ platform could sway his.
Either Plan Would Be A Significant Improvement For American Families
Biden’s plan only calls for 12 weeks of paid family leave. That would still represent a significant improvement over what is currently offered for most American employees, which is often absolutely nothing. The United States is the only developed country in the world to not have a nation-wide paid family leave policy. Some federal employees have access to guaranteed unpaid leave and non-federal workers might have access to paid leave based on their employer plans, but that can range from one week to a few months, depending on the quality of your job.
But Harris’ Plan Is Particularly Generous
But Harris’ proposal last year was one of the most generous: it would give all workers, including part-time and self-employed workers, access to paid leave, and workers who make under $75,000 would be eligible for a full replacement of wages while taking time off to recover from birth or bond with their babies or taking care of a sick loved one. Indeed, her paid family leave plan was part of what she called her “Children’s Agenda,” which would also expand pre-school access and cut child poverty by 50% within the first four years of her supposed presidency. While she won’t be running for president, hopefully, her plans can sway Biden to take bolder action. Although, to be fair, his child care program is very good.