Focus Point - Unwanted Entitlements

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. At President Clinton's instruction, the Department of Labor has published a proposed regulation allowing states to pay unemployment insurance benefits to parents who take time off for the birth or adoption of a child.

This nice-sounding expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act abandons the insurance aspect of unemployment insurance, and establishes a major, costly program for a minor problem, forcing some workers to pay for others' time off and creating incentives not to work.

According to the most recent figures, 18 one-hundredths of one percent of the workforce needed family leave but didn't take it for financial reasons. Yet under this plan, five million people could draw benefits. And people could take leave any time within a year of the birth or adoption date; the baby could be born in January, and dad could the time off to go deer hunting in the fall.

One estimate puts the potential hit on state unemployment insurance systems at $14.4 billion annually. Unemployment insurance may need reform. But it doesn't need this.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, Gore's hot air.

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