A fellow Republican senator described Sen. Joni Ernst’s new plan for paid parental leave as “raiding” Social Security, a potentially crippling condemnation as more and more Americans rely on the program.

Ernst, who faces re-election next year, announced Tuesday she and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would sponsor legislation — called the Cradle Act — allowing parents to draw from their Social Security retirement funds for up to three months while staying home with their newborns.

In return, the parents would delay receiving Social Security payments when they reach retirement age — currently 67 for those born in 1960 or later — by two months for every month they took paid leave.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., immediately skewered the bill, telling the Omaha World-Herald, “I have no desire to raid Social Security.”

Fischer has proposed providing tax credits for employers who offer paid family leave, which encompasses other situations such as caring for sick children.

“I think that’s important in helping families cope with the responsibilities that they have today,” Fischer told the World-Herald. “I think that more-encompassing approach is better.”

Ernst’s proposal comes at a time when Americans believe they will need Social Security when they retire.

According to a 2018 Gallup poll, only 14 percent of non-retirees believed Social Security wouldn’t be a source of income for them in retirement, tying the lowest level since it was 12 percent in 2003.

The Cradle Act is similar to a 2018 proposal from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that conservatives warned would put Social Security at further risk of insolvency.

Policy researchers at the conservative American Action Forum determined it would cost about $10.5 billion in 2019 and $227.6 billion between 2019 and 2034.

“Since the Treasury already borrows to fulfill its Social Security Trust Funds’ obligations, the $226.2 billion in net program costs would be financed by government debt,” they wrote.


Contact Chad Smith at chad.smith@american-ledger.com