Hillary Clinton: Strong Parental Leave Laws Are Great. Here’s Why You Can’t Have Them.

“I don’t think, politically, we could get it now.”

Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The early stages of Hillary Clinton’s proto-presidential campaign this summer were light on details about her domestic policy proposals. Instead, she focused on selling her book, Hard Choices, which focuses on her foreign policy opinions and diplomatic chops.

But this week, during a videotaped speech to a conference on women’s issues in Japan, Clinton staked out a strong view on paid family leave, a topic that could play a role in her 2016 campaign. “The United States, unfortunately, is one of a handful of developed countries without paid family leave,” she said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “If we give parents the flexibility on the job and paid family leave it actually helps productivity, which in turn helps all of us.”

Clinton was asked about family leave during a CNN-hosted town hall in June, and said it was a good idea but one that won’t come to America anytime soon. “I don’t think, politically, we could get it now,” she said.

The United States is one of just four countries where employers are not required to grant new mothers any paid time off after giving birth. Japan, on the other hand, offers 14 weeks.

Paid family leave has been an increasingly important cause for progressives. Three states now buck the national trend and force employers to offer their employees time off. “Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth—now that’s a pretty low bar,” President Obama said in June. “That, we should be able to take care of.”

Republicans have resisted calls for offering maternity leave, as it would force company’s to spend more on employee benefits. But polls consistently show that the public is overwhelmingly supportive of such measures. “For her 2016 campaign, Clinton should make paid family leave a—no; the!—central plank,” the Daily Beast‘s Michael Tomasky wrote in July. Clinton’s past profile on domestic politics largely centered on her experience and wisdom on finding ways to offer universal health insurance—a topic that is mostly off the national radar thanks to Obamacare. If she wants to run for president again, anchoring her campaign on getting the US in line with the international consensus of letting workers take a bit of paid time off to take care of newborns or a sick loved one seems like a no-brainer.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate