the united states could pay for daddyland, no problem

I always assumed that the cost of parental leave in the US would be too high, that it would take some massive overhaul of our entire system to make Swedish-style parental leave a reality.  So I always talk about how we have to find an American way, a way that I can’t come up with myself, but there has to be some way – American ingenuity and all that.

Then in the recent Newsweek cover story on masculinity, a Columbia professor – Jane Waldfogel – is quoted saying that giving every working parent a full year of paid parental leave would cost about 25 billion dollars a year.

Oooh, that sounds like a lot, right?

It’s nothing.  If true, people should be knocking down their politicians’ doors to get this done.

Here are some numbers.  In nine years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. has spent 1.1 trillion dollars.

That equals about 44 years of paid parental leave.

Citizens Against Government Waste says that congress earmarked 16.9 billion dollars worth of projects in 2010.  That takes care of a lot of the parental leave.  I know that pork projects serve as a kind of local stimulus, but, believe me, paying parents is a better way.

The conservative Hogue News listed a whole lot of wasteful federal projects, including references:

  1. The federal government made at least $72 billion in improper payments in 2008.
  2. Washington spends $92 billion on corporate welfare (excluding TARP) versus $71 billion on homeland security.
  3. Washington spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties.
  4. Government auditors spent the past five years examining all federal programs and found that 22 percent of them–costing taxpayers a total of $123 billion annually–fail to show any positive impact on the populations they serve.
  5. The Congressional Budget Office published a “Budget Options” series identifying more than $100 billion in potential spending cuts.

I’m sure the Hogue people wouldn’t the savings to go the safety net, but tough luck.  I’m seeing the future of an American Daddyland in that list.

We wouldn’t even notice 25 billion a year, a drop in the bucket.  Start taxing corporations right and we can even let the hypocritical Tea Party folks have a tax cut or two …


One thought on “the united states could pay for daddyland, no problem

  1. I would like to know how Waldfogel did the calculation on that one! Doing some rather rudimentary maths I come to a figure about ten times the stated one. This based on the USA using a system similar to the Swedish one albeit with one year instead. I really don’t understand how anyone can buy her number without questioning it. The numbers are completely insane. Dividing the number she stated with the number of births in the US (assuming an average of one working parent per child) ought to make anyone stop and question her maths as well as her honesty and motives.

    Now, $250 billion/year might still be doable, if there is enough will among the US tax payers to bear the cost, but it’s certainly not “nothing”. Especially considering that the USA is running a deficit to the tune of 10% of GDP as is. Add to that the rather massive underfunding of the social security, medicare and medicaid programs and I see no way to avoid both substantial tax hikes as well as substantial cuts in spending. But what do I know, I’m just a Swede observing the USA from a far (apart from visiting friends in the US)

    I guess right wingers in the US would say that the budget problem must be solved with cuts alone. And left wingers think the problem can be solved by taxing the rich. Anyone thinking that the problem can be solved by just “trimming the fat” is delusional though.

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