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Schickel: 12 Weeks of Federal Family Leave is Step Towards Socialism

The following op-ed is written by State Senator John Schickel (R-Union).

As a state senator, I try to stay in my lane by not commenting on federal issues in Washington by keeping my focus on representing you in Frankfort. However, what happened recently in Washington upset me so much, I felt I had to say something.

Obviously, the eyes of the mainstream media have been on impeachment with almost no coverage of what I am going to talk about.  Recently, something else happened in Washington which will have much more far-reaching effects on our lives. The House and the Senate passed and the President signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act. Buried in this voluminous bill is a 12-week PAID family leave component for both Mom and Dad for the birth of a child and other extra-ordinary events. This applies to all federal employees.

This program, being another step towards socialism, adds an estimated $3.3 billion dollars to a $4.4 trillion dollar budget with a deficit of $960 billion. Obviously, we cannot afford this. Private sector businesses will first be told to pay for this, through taxes, and then be forced to compete against it, for employees.

Sadly, it appears that the government always takes care of itself, but this incident begs the questions: “Why was this not covered by the media? Why did so called “business advocacy groups,” such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lobby against this or at least sound the alarm?”

Thank goodness for U.S. Senator Rand Paul and my Congressman, Thomas Massie, who were among the handful of legislators who actually had the wisdom and courage to vote against this. Like many of my constituents, I was saddened and puzzled by how something like this could even happen. I picked up the phone and called several people in Washington to ask them, and they explained to me that many congress people are afraid to vote against the National Defense Authorization Act because they will be labeled as “not supportive of the troops.” And since it is involved with family leave, they would be perceived as being “against families,” too, hardly profiles in courage, I don’t know?

I believe in military family leave. We should definitely take care of our military families. Addressing family leave in the in the National Defense Authorization Act would be perfectly appropriate. However, the vast majority of the employees covered in this bill have nothing to do with the military.

Sen. Rand Paul has said many times, “Things that are not related to national defense should not be put into the act and should be voted on and debated as separate bills.” What does family leave have to do with national defense? You would think this would be common sense. These dysfunctional procedures are a big problem and should be addressed immediately. The sad fact of this is that it will become the new gold standard for employee benefit packages. A standard private business, especially small businesses, the country’s largest employer, will not be able to afford.

“The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker,” will never have these benefits but will be required to pay for them. Federal employees now on average make more money than private sector employees. In many ways, it seems like we are becoming two societies: The federal government class with benefits no one else has, and the private sector who is forced to pay for them even though they will not be able to participate.