Friday, May 16, 2008

Leonard Lance opposes Paid Family Leave

At a recent Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Republican candidate for Congress, Senator Leonard Lance, declared that he was "saddened" by the passage of the Paid Family Leave legislation. He not only asserted that the legislation would be bad for the New Jersey economy, but he was personally "saddened" by it.

An odd word to use, I thought. But specifically chosen. If Senator Lance is anything, he is a critically thinking word-smith. By using such a word, the Senator separates himself from the other Republicans who opposed Paid Family Leave merely on an economic basis. Indeed, he shows us his 'compassionate human' side, too. He is the Republican who genuinely cares.

Now, I have known the Senator for many years, and he has been a good friend and personal acquaintance. I had the pleasure of having known his father, Wesley Lance, the late Senator and former Acting Governor. Both men are gifted politicians and very bright policy wonks ----a rare combination. However, Mr. Lance has come down on the wrong side of this issue.

Mr. Lance is by and large a good thinker, and is a moderate on most social issues. But he is in a political party that presently abhors social liberals. Most liberal Republicans will use an open hand and call themselves "social moderates", but pound their fists and shake their fingers, and call themselves "fiscal conservatives" ----all to avoid using the dreaded "L" word. And Lance is no different.

New Jersey's Paid Family Leave Act kicks in January 1st 2009, when
"New Jersey workers taking family leave can get two-thirds of their wages up to $524 a week for as much as six weeks a year. The Legislature estimates the plan will cost workers $33 a year and be used by about 38,000 employees, or 1 percent of the state’s workforce.
The fear from the business community is that New Jersey will become less competitive by this "imposition" on the small business community, that businesses will be driven elsewhere. The California experience with Paid Family Leave has proven differently.

The business community---
New Jersey Chambers of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses----argue that the impact will hurt small businesses. Of course, they never seem to make the argument that by making New Jersey more friendly to working families, that might actually attract more of a productive labor force.

To his credit, Lance
did mention [albeit very briefly] that perhaps such legislation should be considered by the Federal government, so that states that have Paid Family Leave would not be at a disadvantage to those who do not. Was that Lance's 'liberal' side speaking? Does that portend to the possibility that if he were elected to Congress, and if a Federal Paid Family Leave bill was before Congress, he would join the Democratic majority in supporting such legislation? Maybe so.

But there are many political hurdles between now and then. Either way, Lance must first get the nomination, and there are too many rank and file Republicans who oppose Paid Family Leave for Senator Lance to allow his 'liberal'/'moderate' side to show. At least until the fall.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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