Republicans Propose Lackluster Plan for Working Families

Working families face serious obstacles in the current economy: it’s challenging to get time off to care for sick and injured family members, childcare is expensive and/or inaccessible, limited support for flexible hours is available, the simple costs of raising children are increasing and parents are spending more time than ever at work when they want to be home with their children.

Prior to the Working Families Summit, the Republicans prepared a package of bills they said were designed to help people balance work, life and childraising. The highlights of those bills, however, are more like lowlights.

A Fair Shot for Everyone,” as the GOP is billing the six-bill package, reads as anything but when it comes to families, labor rights and balancing home/office environments.

How about a tax break for a baby crib in your office? Currently, working parents are not allowed to take a tax deduction on a home office if a baby crib is present, and the Republicans have helpfully suggested that this should be changed, allowing parents to keep an eye on baby while working. What about parents who have to go into the office? They’re on their own — none of the six bills provide incentives, mandates or frameworks for improving access to workplace childcare or helping parents get childcare outside the workplace.

You’ve worked overtime: How about you trade that for some comp time? Senator Mike Lee (Utah) has suggested that when working parents exceed 40 hours a week on the job (most work at least 50), they could choose between comp time and overtime pay. That would allow them to take personal days without risks when they need to, thanks to accrued comp time. His contribution to the needs of working families, apparently, is to suggest that parents work for free so they can get personal days later — in contrast to the growing push for more extensive paid family and medical leave laws that would protect working parents, among others.

Need health care? Too bad. The “40 Hours is Full Time Act” would change existing Affordable Care Act mandates requiring that employers provide health insurance to all people working 30 or more hours a week. Under this bill, such coverage wouldn’t kick in until 40 hours, allowing employers to save big on health insurance expenses — and kicking approximately half a million people off health insurance plans.

About the only thing the Democrats and Republicans seem to be able to agree on when it comes to working families is the need for increased access to training and education programs, reflecting the fact that more and more adults are struggling in the current economy. For those seeking new career opportunities, the cost of accessing job training can be prohibitive, and improving such programs could help working families increase their annual earnings and improve their chances of advancing in the work place.

By comparison, the Democratic package, which includes protections for pregnant women, a crackdown on paycheck fairness, better childcare services, and more, seems positively left-wing, even though it’s actually pretty tame when compared to the kinds of benefits available to working families in Europe.

Photo credit: Tom Reynolds.


Terry Wheeler
Terry Wheeler3 years ago

Did anyone think these proposals would do anything to actually help those who need it ??

Dan Nickerson
Dan Nickerson3 years ago

Its understandable that that Republicans have lackluster proposals for working families. They have been so busy focusing on jobs, jobs, jobs.

Heidi Wood
Heidi Wood3 years ago

One I don't work for free. What happened to "family values" none of these even sound like family values to me.

Robert O.
Robert O3 years ago

Naturally it would be lackluster since they don't know a thing about what it's like to be poor and they don't care to know. To them poverty is a disorder that warrants punishment or therapy not understanding, compassion or any type of logical action to help those living and struggling with it.

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F3 years ago


Karen H.
Karen H3 years ago

Ridiculous proposals. Trading overtime for comp time? Some employers don’t allow that at all, and if they do it’s not hour-for-hour. Besides, comp time doesn’t buy food or pay the rent.
The health care proposal is a joke. Anne M is right: many employers do everything they can to keep employees working UNDER 40 hours a week. The thinking is, “It’s MY money and I’m gonna keep it.”
Comments about small businesses are so true. I worked for a small, local company, and the owner did whatever she pleased. That included suddenly (with about a week’s notice) changing our pay schedule to monthly instead of weekly or bi-weekly, which threw everybody’s finances out of whack. Then decided there would be no “overtime”; whatever we worked was “normal”, whether it was 40 hours a week or 60. Then one day decided, “You’re gone, you’re gone, and you’re gone”.

Donna F.
Donna F3 years ago


Maria Teresa Schollhorn

Thank you.

Anne F.
Anne F3 years ago

the idea that real jobs are 40 hour a week jobs is ludicrous. Plenty of us are offered work for 32 or 37 hours a week.

Sherri S.
Sherri S3 years ago

Most Republicans and Democrats are liars and don't give a damn about poor working class Americans. They all just want to make it seem as if they do so they can get elected OR re-elected. George W. - idiot and a liar Obama - Idiot and a liar.