Paid family leave “helps workers be there for their families,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a recent speech on her legislative priorities. “It gives you breathing room to get better when you're sick, to bond with your baby or care for a family member. Right now, 77% of Michigan workers do not have access to paid family, medical leave.” Michigan Republicans have their answer to this: Paid family leave is “summer break for adults.”
Poll after poll shows strong majorities of support for paid family leave, even among Republicans, but sure, mock the idea. That’s a good strategy.
That quote was courtesy of a “Messaging Points” memo aimed at Republicans in the state House, apparently written by a spokeswoman for the caucus, The Messenger reports. ”Lansing Democrats want to take money out of your paychecks with a new tax to pay for summer break for adults,” the talking point reads. “It’s a ridiculous idea that people just can’t afford.”
Yeah, giving birth and taking care of a newborn is just like summer break. Recovering from surgery, same. Taking a loved one to chemo and then caring for them through the ensuing misery? A day at the beach.
Michigan House Republicans do support paid family and medical leave, another spokesman insisted to The Messenger, just … not in any way that would work as a state policy. As they put it, they oppose “burdening workers and businesses needlessly” or a “system that is going to let fraudulent payouts just go by without dealing with them.” But Republicans aren’t trying to work with Democrats to ensure that fraud doesn’t happen; they’re just opposing the policy on the insistence that it would.
There are two proposals for paid family leave currently in the Michigan House, but it’s not clear what a final version of the policy would look like. In those proposals, as in the growing number of states that have passed paid leave, it’s funded by a small payroll tax. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have such policies, and Minnesota recently passed a law that will fully take effect in 2026—the payroll tax funding means states need time to build up a reserve.
We’re talking about a very small payroll tax, typically shared between employers and workers, that will provide workers with paid time off if they have a new baby, need to care for a sick family member, or need an extended leave to recover from their own illness or surgery. It’s supposed to be there for everyone who pays in, to help them get through life events that may be joyful but difficult (giving birth is a major medical event! new babies are exhausting!) or simply difficult. But Republican lawmakers consider any such policy to be a burden. And they are claiming that whatever small incidence of fraud might occur is a reason to deny leave to new parents and people caring for their desperately ill loved ones. Those are typically flimsy Republican arguments against something that benefits working families. But “summer break”? That’s a blatant insult to every worker who’s needed more time off work for family or medical reasons.
The far-right justices on Wisconsin's Supreme Court just can't handle the fact that liberals now have the majority for the first time in 15 years, so they're in the throes of an ongoing meltdown—and their tears are delicious. On this week's episode of "The Downballot," co-hosts David Nir and David Beard drink up all the schadenfreude they can handle as they puncture conservative claims that their progressive colleagues are "partisan hacks" (try looking in the mirror) or are breaking the law (try reading the state constitution). Elections do indeed have consequences!