Bush Says New Moms and Their Babies Cost Too Much

Tue, June 24, 2008


When it was time to travel to China to bring home our little PunditBaby, I was working at a large government agency in a pretty senior position.

I assumed that I would be able to take paid maternity leave, though I figured I’d have to jump through a few hoops since my adoption “pregnancy” was not in utero. Too bad someone wasn’t trying to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge or some miracle cure-all at the time, ’cause they probably could have fooled me on that, too.

See, federal employees don’t get paid maternity leave. If you’re having a baby, or adopting, and you want paid time off, you’ve got to use accumulated vacation/sick/comp time. Otherwise, you’re on your own.

When I realized all that, my jaw just about hit the top of my big government-issue desk. What happened to all that family-friendly speak?? It seemed safe to assume that if you were working for Uncle Sam that paid pregnancy leave was in the package– after all, most professionals who work for the government take a huge hit in income, but do it for the trade-off of more reasonable working hours and, usually, a nicer benefits package.

Next time, I’ll pay more attention to the fine print.

Congress is mulling over a little something called the Parental Paid Leave Act, that would give federal employees a whopping four whole weeks off with pay for maternity leave. It passed the House of Representatives and is idling as it waits to head on over to the Senate.

There seems to be some support for the bill, but President Bush (haven’t we kicked him off this throne yet??) says he won’t sign the bill into law because it’s a “costly, unnecessary, new paid leave entitlement.”

Sure there’s a cost to the bill, but without it there’s a different kind of cost — employees who leave or don’t come back because of the current draconian family policies. Sure, there’s the Family and Medical Leave Act, but that doesn’t apply to federal workers and it’s unpaid leave anyway.

What’s even worse about Bush’s position is that he, as the father of daughters, is telling all the rest of the fathers in the country that their daughters who work for him don’t deserve a few weeks off with their new babies where they don’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay for the Pampers.

Didn’t her mom deserve a few weeks of paid maternity leave?? After all, the president takes five weeks off just in the summer to clear brush.

Which is more important and which really costs the taxpayers more money??

Photos by PunditMom

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13 Responses to “Bush Says New Moms and Their Babies Cost Too Much”

  1. jerseymomma Says:

    Duh! We can’t help our own families because we have schools in Iraq to build, silly.

    In all seriousness, I have a 6 month old– and as far as im concerned, if I had to work after he was born, I would have been the biggest waste of money ever. If you want to let me loose with sensitive information on 2 hours of sleep, be my guest– but im sure my scatter brain will cost you more in the long run Dear Mr.President.

  2. Amy in Ohio Says:

    Outrageous. I work for a company with no maternity benefits. My maternity leave was rough financally of course.

    How can any company be expected to offer such benefits if our own federal government doesn’t step up and set the example?

    Bush needs to be ducktaped to his lazyboy until January so he doesn’t muck anything else up.

  3. Amanda Says:

    Knowing from experience how little I would get on maternity leave, I arranged to work from home on projects to keep the money coming in. I know not everyone has that luxury. Our system is so far out of whack with regard to family and health care. It seems that as in so many other areas, we’ve got to feather our own nest or accept that the system will fail us.

  4. Historic Moment Says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t know of any companies that offer paid maternity leave, none of the companies I have worked for and none of my friends companies have ever paid a maternity leave. They all require that you max out your sick and vacation leave and take the rest unpaid.

    It’s certainly a morally wrong practice, hopefully this bill will pass….

  5. Anonymous Says:

    My company offers 6-8 weeks partially paid maternity leave provided you actually give birth (I believe you technically go on short-term disability). My daughter was adopted and I had to take 12 weeks unpaid to be with her. My husband then took 12 weeks unpaid paternity leave to be with her (he is a fed. employee too). It was tough for those first 5-6 months, but she is worth it.

    About 40% of companies do offer some adoption benefits, but the fed. gov’t does not (though you can claim an adoption tax credit of up to $11,000 or so for the costs of the adoption in the year you finalize).

    It would also seem that a president who so opposes abortion would support efforts of families to adopt children whose parents decide they are unable to care for them.

  6. Melisa Says:

    I worked for a company that was so small they weren’t required to comply with FMLA (or even California’s more stringent version of FMLA). My husband’s company is considered pretty cushy and the women there only get partial-pay maternity leave.

    Maybe the federal government can lead the way when it comes to fully paid maternity leave.

  7. judy in ky Says:

    I love what Amy in Ohio says about ducktaping Bush to his lazyboy. I agree 100%. I am so afraid of what he might do with the time he has left. He scares me!

  8. Maria Says:

    I work for the Feds, and even though this is a problem (and I think it should be changed), I am not willing to quit my job over it. The “other” benefits still add up. Also, I don’t know about your agency/office, but our supervisors allow us to borrow on our sick leave, take extended LWOP (if you want/need more time than you have leave), and one of my coworkers even came back part-time. I guess what I am trying to say is that in spite of the horrible pay policy (using leave), Federal employees still have it easier than a large portion of the private sector.

  9. anniegirl1138 Says:

    As a public school teacher, I had to use accumulated sick time. But, there was a catch. We could use only 6 weeks worth regardless of how much time we had in our sick banks and the clock started ticking the day the baby was born.

    So baby is born three weeks before school starts and by their count that means I get three weeks mat leave and anything beyond is unpaid. I took four. I even planned ahead and paid mortgage ahead and everything and that one week without pay cost me big because even though they paid my 9.5 month salary over 12 months, they docked me my in real time.

    Mat leave needs to be uniform for all women. It’s not like the old days where women went off into the woods, gave birth, strapped the baby to them and went back to the fields.

  10. bethiclaus Says:

    It blows me away that Republicans (SOME Republicans) consider themselves the party of family values, but see the bonding time of parent with infant child as unnecessary. My parents and grandparents all worked for the federal government in one capacity or another and I honestly feel blessed to have left that cycle myself.

  11. Chabelamarie Says:

    I went through the same situation with the Feds when I had my girl. I took the 12 weeks of FMLA and 6 additional months of unpaid leave. By then, my husband and I had realized it was better for me to stay home with the girl and after 10 years with the government I ended up quitting. Had the government had a better paid leave package, maybe I would’ve gone back. I love being with the girl at home, but I also loved my job and I miss it.

    Anyways, the problem also extends to the private sector in the US. Aren’t we on the bottom of the of the list, or close to in, terms of parental leave? It’s a shame that this country which is so advanced in so many things it’s still pretty rudimentary when it comes to paid benefits for parents.

  12. sandyshoes Says:

    This bothers me a lot. Family values, my ass.

    I agree with chabelamarie — seems like this country has accomplished so much. It’s baffling that we’re so backward on this issue.

    And of course the private sector is worse… but at least in my field, the private sector generally pays a lot better too. Nobody goes into government service to get rich.

    btw, PunditBaby is adorable.

  13. Nancy Says:

    I had enough leave accumulated when pregnant with Mimi to take about 8 weeks with pay (used all my sick and vacation time, of course).

    But then when Mimi was an infant I used leave up as I accrued it, or sometimes took LWOP, because she’d get sick or something. So by the time I was pregnant with Rosie I had a measly 4 weeks of sick/vacation time to use. I got permission to “borrow” sick leave from myself. It took 2 years to pay back an additional 4 weeks of leave.

    Thank goodness for the federal health insurance (which is truly the best for me given my medical condition), or I never would have stuck it out working for the government.

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