Ivanka Trump, daughter of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal promoting (and defending) her father's paid family leave plan.
Ivanka has been a great asset to her father's campaign, especially when it comes to women and family issues. That said, she makes one of the common mistakes when discussing statistics about gender pay equity.
"For me, motherhood is a gift and a tremendous source of joy," she writes. "Yet it's also the greatest predictor of wage inequality in our country," Ivanka writes at the beginning of her article. "In 2014, single women without children earned 94 cents on a man's dollar. Married mothers made only 81 cents."
Ivanka doesn't explain why this wage gap actually exists, let alone the fact that it seems to contradict the more commonly used (and even more misleading) statistic that hints at even lower pay for women compared to men.
It's not that men and women are working side-by-side doing the same job and being paid unequally (even if that happens in some places). Men and women choose different careers, work different hours, and often have different levels of experience.
The reason married mothers earned 81 cents to the dollar that men earned is because so many married mothers leave the labor force when they have a child. That drops the average earnings if they go back to work later compared to single women. Or they work fewer hours or take a less time-consuming job, which generally pays less.
That said, there is some good in Donald's plan. Allowing working parents to deduct child care expenses is a good idea. Society should value parenthood more. Parents are shouldering many expenses now that prevent the state from having to pay more later. Anything that helps them cover those expenses without being taxed on the extra money they have to earn to pay the costs of raising a family is a good idea.
Donald's Dependent Care Savings Accounts idea also sounds like it could be helpful. It not only assists parents, but also those caring for an elder or dependent adult. Too often, workers must put their career on hold when a family member becomes ill. I think finding a non-government solution that helps people handle this on their own, without raising taxes, is another positive.
Trump's tax deduction can be taken by families that don't use commercial child care. This is nice because it means the plan doesn't punish those families in which parents decide to (or must, in the case of those working night shifts) provide child care themselves. This makes sense when you think about it — some families make arrangements by which they bear the same costs by giving up their own time rather than cash. That cost is still real and the parents' time is also worth a certain dollar amount.
But here's where I take issue: Trump's plan guarantees six weeks of paid maternity leave and plans to pay for it by reforming unemployment insurance. This, I'm skeptical about. Mostly because I don't like government mandates. And it means that the plan should satisfy the Left, but Trump is running as a Republican, so that doesn't matter.
Ivanka says her father's plan won't raise taxes. Maybe not, but mandating employers do something – as opposed to incentivizing them to do so, as I mentioned earlier – will have ramifications. Paid maternity – and paternity – leave is a great thing. Some businesses provide it already, and many individuals can buy short-term leave insurance, like AFLAC, that provides it as well.
But a lot of businesses, especially those that pay low-skilled workers, can't afford it. Under a regimen of paid leave, they will simply think twice before hiring people who arguably need jobs the most — young married people (and especially young women) who might have children. Why did he take so much care to keep the government out of most of his proposal, yet insert the government into this aspect?
I don't think this plan will do much to win women over for Trump, but it might show that he's listening and reacting. And while his opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, has had weeks of negative headlines, Donald's plan stands out as a positive for his campaign.
Full disclosure: Ivanka Trump is married to Jared Kushner, who publishes the New York Observer, where I also write.
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.