Middle-class parents are working more, seeing their kids less and facing a lower standard of living than ever before.
On Tuesday during a visit to New Hampshire, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.) released a policy plan aimed at helping families face the pressure. Her plan bolsters parents' ability to balance work and family and might appeal to her strongest constituency: women. Clinton's plan calls for greater workplace flexibility for families. It expands access to leave by creating a federal fund for state expansion of family leave, expanding the Family Medical Leave Act to small businesses, ensuring access to sick days and empowering employees to ask for more flexibility without mandating that employers accept requests. Other goals include promoting model workplaces, improving childcare access and prohibiting parental discrimination based on pregnancy or family responsibilities. The plan may stir controversy with Republican opponents in two ways. First, the plan poses possible government interference to businesses while creating additional bureaucratic hassles. Second, the plan is costly, to the tune of about $1.75 billion a year. The Clinton campaign says work-family initiatives lead to higher morale, fewer sick days and greater productivity, which would benefit businesses. The plan wouldn't make changes mandatory, but it would encourage businesses to take action. Moreover, the costs are small and will be paid for by "establishing a uniform definition of a tax shelter." The plan continues, "This reform will help crack down on abusive tax transactions that have no economic purpose."