Edwards Announces Proposal To Expand Paid Family Leave
Presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) on Tuesday at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., announced a proposal to expand paid family leave for employees who care for sick relatives or newborns, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. The proposal would seek to provide all workers with eight weeks of paid family leave by 2014.
Under the proposal, states would receive $2 billion annually to help develop programs that offer employees at least eight weeks of paid family leave. In addition, the proposal would expand the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides 12 weeks of unpaid family leave, to cover 13 million additional employees. The proposal would require employers to provide workers with at least seven sick days annually.
Edwards said that the proposal "works in combination with universal health care ... and a whole series of things that are essentially aimed at making sure we strengthen and grow the middle class in this country and provide some level of financial security that does not exist today" (Ramer, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/13).
Meanwhile, Edwards on Tuesday in Iowa launched a new television advertisement focused on his call to end health insurance for lawmakers in the event that they do not approve legislation to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents within six months after the next president takes office, according to a Washington Post ad watch report.
In the ad, Edwards says, "When I'm president, I'm going to say to members of Congress and members of my administration, including my Cabinet," that "if you don't pass universal health care by July of 2009, in six months, I'm going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you," adding, "There's no excuse for politicians in Washington having health care when you don't have health care."
However, "Edwards is making a promise he can't keep" because the president has "absolutely no power to rescind federal health insurance for members of Congress," the Post reports (Kurtz, Washington Post, 11/14). In a phone interview on Tuesday, Edwards acknowledged that he would not have the authority to revoke health insurance for lawmakers, adding that he would use the "power of the bully pulpit" to force the passage of legislation to revoke their coverage (Leys, Des Moines Register, 11/14).
According to the Post, Congress likely would not pass such legislation, which could violate a clause in the 27th Amendment of the Constitution that bans "varying the compensation" of lawmakers without an intervening election (Washington Post, 11/14).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Tuesday reported on the role of presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) in the enactment of the recently implemented state law that requires all residents to obtain health insurance. Romney as Massachusetts governor sought opinions from a number of experts in the development of his health care proposal -- the "same kind of thoughtful analysis that made him a multi-millionaire" through his business investments -- but, "once Romney had made his decision on health care, he seemed to have little interest in the political horse-trading needed to get that plan through the state's Democratic legislature," according to NPR.
After the state Legislature approved the measure, Romney vetoed a provision to require employers that do not offer employees health insurance to pay fees, a move that marked the start of his efforts to "distance himself from the very health care plan he'd pioneered," NPR reports. However, the state Legislature later overrode the veto of the provision.
The segment includes comments from Jon Gruber, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who advised Romney on the development of law; Tim Murphy, state health and human services secretary under Romney; state House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi (D); and Romney (Horsley, "All Things Considered," NPR, 11/13).
Audio and a partial transcript of the segment are available online.