The Maternal Mystery in a Crazy Election Year

You might not have noticed, but Republican nominee Donald J. Trump delivered a major policy address on Tuesday outlining his proposal for a federal paid maternity leave policy. It was given perfunctory coverage by all the respectable press, just in case you still visit there, but was easily overlooked in a news cycle still dominated by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comments and health problems and slipping poll numbers. As loathe as we are to admit it, we can hardly blame neither the respectable press nor its readership for their priorities.
Trump’s speech was pre-written in more-or-less parseable English, and read from a teleprompter in a relatively relaxed tone, so it had none of the ad-libbed ad hominens that generated all those “oh no he didn’t” headlines which propelled his run to the Republican nomination. All that policy stuff is also rather boring, apparently even to Trump judging his by relatively relaxed tone, and by now a vast majority of the country has figured out that neither Trump nor Clinton really mean any of it anyway. Certainly no one believes that Trump had given much serious thought to a federal paid maternity leave policy until recently, and we note that he delivered his major policy address in a suburb of Philadelphia in the important swing state of Pennsylvania where all the polls still show him behind largely because college-educated white people in general and suburban white women in particular can’t stand him, so although we’re loathe to admit it we can’t blame The New York Times for headlining its perfunctory coverage with “Donald Trump Unveils Plan for Families in Bid for Women’s Votes.”
Our guess is that the ploy won’t do Trump much good, and that he should be grateful Clinton’s recent headline-grabbing travails have mitigated the harm it might have done.
The Trump plan calls for six weeks of paid mandatory leave and expanded tax credits for child care, which even The New York Times is obliged to concede “represents a different approach from the one taken by previous Republican nominees,” but of course that’s not nearly enough to satisfy the more unabashedly leftist outfits. The Huffington Post called the proposal Trump’s “Biggest Insult To Women Yet,” which is really saying something after all those hours he spent yukking it up on Howard Stern’s shock jock radio show, and gleefully reported that Trump’s private businesses haven’t always been so generous as he now insists the American public must be.
Even the more bottom-line minded business press acknowledged that Trump’s plan for the rest of us is parsimonious by international standards. Fortune Magazine’s headline admitted that “Donald Trump’s Maternity Leave Plan Keeps US in Last Place Among Peers,” while Business Insider could only muster the enthusiasm for “No cheers for Trump’s child care plan — one cheer for maternity leave,” and every objective source seemed to agree that there wasn’t enough of Trump’s targeted “waste and fraud” in the current programs to pay for even such a parsimonious entitlement expansion. Every objective source also acknowledged that Trump was once again lying when said that Clinton hadn’t offered maternity leave policy “and never will,” as Clinton had offered her policy more than year ago, but they further admitted that her proposals weren’t a whole lot closer to those international standards.
Over on the right, the reaction was mixed at best, with few Republican office-holders and no past Republican nominees hopping on board. Conservatism has long been against any big government entitlement policies but also very much pro-procreation, so even such a NeverTrump redoubt of the true faith as National Review was making a case that “Paid Maternity Leave Should Not be Ignored by the Right,” complete with data about female workforce participation and the fact that America is the only industrialized country in the world without a generous paid maternity leave policy, but such rock-ribbed sorts as ourselves found it unconvincing. We’re pro-procreation but in an old-fashioned family sense, and we’re not sure what incentives these maternity leave policies might provide given the current cultural trends, and we don’t buy into that all-the-other-industrialized-countries-are-doing-it nonsense. Such formerly rock-ribbed types as Rush Limbaugh are reluctantly concluding it’s good politics, but there’s still a few of us who aren’t willing to concede that big government entitlement ground.
Luckily for Trump, he and Clinton and her slightly-less-big-government proposals will likely be overshadowed by her “deplorables” comment and her health problems and her slipping poll numbers.

— Bud Norman

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One response

  1. Imagine that: Trump on the campaign trail offers benefits to people he hopes will vote for him. That’s such a radical change for the head of the Republican ticket. His predecessors all campaigned on promises to take things away which may explain why we are not calling Romney, McCain, and Dole “Mr. President.” Promises of sackcloth and ashes are not compelling, even when delivered by the prophets of old. But dumb old Donald has figured out that in order to implement his policies he first has to get elected.

    I continue to be amazed by otherwise intelligent people who make statements like “I find it to be ironic that it has taken Donald J. Trump to bring to the fore …yadda, yadda yadda.”

    For some reason the people that say this are admitting that they totally miss the mark. Trump doesn’t talk in nuanced tones; give standard issue political speeches or issues endless undecipherable white papers. For that reason academics or public intellectuals think he’s dumb.

    It takes a certain kind of political and moral blindness to miss the fact that the open borders policy and the trade deals that both parties have been implementing has devastated the working class. People who, a generation ago, would be working as maids, gardeners, roofers, unskilled labor in factories have been replaced by illegals paid in cash or under the table.

    People who assembled GE TV sets in Portsmouth, Virginia 30 years ago – all 5000 of them – are jobless. Ditto to the 2300 workers at the Ford F-150 (Ford’s best-selling pickup truck) plant in Norfolk. The latter happened when Tim Kaine, Hillary’s running mate, was governor of Virginia. And Ford just announced that it will move all its small car production to Mexico. Thank you, Free Traders.

    But the academic world is booming as more and more students are lured by the empty promise of good jobs once they graduate, but find that their career maxes out as head Barista at Starbucks. But all is not lost. The smart ones are taking courses in politics because the market for high paying government workers has never been better. The wealthiest communities are all clustered around the Capital, making The Hunger Games not a dystopian model but a how-to manual for policy makers. So the news of plants closing in flyover country doesn’t register and doesn’t affect the people who cling to the belief that the policies of the past have all been good, like Obama Care, they just need a little tweak at the edges.

    Those affected by this slow motion catastrophe are just collateral damage. A few decades from now, at the most, time will take the people who lost their jobs into that after-world with the last of the World War 2 vets.

    Problem solved.

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