Romney introduces bill allowing new parents to dip into Social Security for family leave

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Wednesday introduced the New Parents Act, legislation that would create a voluntary option for paid parental leave by allowing parents to use a portion of their Social Security after the birth or adoption of a child.

According to a media statement from Romney’s press office, the bill provides parents the flexibility to use their benefits in a way that works best for their household. Under the proposed New Parents Act, any parents, especially those with low incomes, will be able to finance three months of leave — or longer. U.S. Reps. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., and Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, introduced companion legislation in the House.

In the media statement, Romney said there are only two states where births are outpacing deaths.

“One of them is my home state of Utah,” Romney said. “That means a lot of Utah families are having children, and it also means added expenses for those families. In Utah, and throughout the United States, a majority of working parents do not get paid when they take time off from work after the birth or adoption of a child, which can mean depleted savings, credit card debt, and student loan defaults.”

Romney said the New Parents Act will give parents the flexibility to take time off from work with pay during the first weeks of their children’s lives, “without growing our national debt, raising taxes, or creating a new entitlement program.”

According to a one pager of the bill created by the offices of Romney and Rubio, after applying and being approved, parents would have the option of taking one, two or three months of leave. It is estimated that “nearly all parents below the medium household income of about $60,000 will be able to take significant leave at a rate of two-thirds of their prior wages,” the summation reads.

This would also potentially apply to stay-at-home parents with an earnings history that meets requirements. Parents who take the option would either extend their Social Security retirement age by three to six months or receive a proportional reduction in monthly benefits for the first five years of retirement.

Rubio said in the media statement that it is time to realign the nation’s economic policies in support of American families.

“Our economic policies have left young, working families behind at a time when our marriage and childbirth rates are falling,” he said, echoing Romney’s statements that the proposed act “does not raise taxes or expand bureaucracy.”

Wagner spoke on the issue from her personal experience with parenthood.

“As a mother, a grandmother, and someone who has employed many new moms and dads, I know that having a baby is both joyous and challenging,” she said. “We have put forth a responsible paid family leave policy that allows new parents flexibility to spend more time with their children during one of life’s most precious and exceptional moments.”

Crenshaw called the ability for new parents to access their Social Security benefits “a life-changing option.”

“It is rare that we get the chance to drastically improve the lives of hard working families with no long-term impact on our budget,” he said. “By giving families temporary access to future funds when they’re growing their family, we are helping Americans when they need it most.”

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