During his illustrious State of the Uniom Address, in which our magnanimous president thanked God and clapped enthusiastically for himself, Donald Trump threw in one line saying he supported “paid family leave.”
Literally, this the entirety of what he said: “And let us support working families by supporting paid family leave.” The camera then panned to his daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump, who crafted a paid family leave policy during the Trump campaign.
Let’s check the facts on this one, shall we? Currently, the US government offers 12 weeks of federally mandated leave after birth for employees of companies of 50 or more employees, who have worked there for at least a year, all unpaid.* The United States remains the only industrialized nation to not offer federally mandated paid family leave, which historically has been just fine by Republicans. Ivanka’s proposed policy, which was far skimpier than Hillary Clinton’s (or other existing Democratic bills), included only six weeks of paid leave for women after giving birth. It did not include leave for fathers, adoptive parents, or partners in LGBT couples. I interviewed Ivanka Trump in 2016 about this very thing, and she told me that “the original intention of the plan is to help mothers in recovery in the immediate aftermath of childbirth.” A new iteration of the plan, announced along with Trump’s budget proposal, in May, expanded the plan to include adoptive couples and fathers—but it still did not address the rights of LGBT couples.
Family leave has been a feminist cause for decades, but aside from one throw-away line during Tuesday night’s speech, Trump has not expressed support for, or meaningfully addressed any issues pertaining to women’s rights or gender equality. (Our sexual predator-in-chief has, however, continued to make many sexist comments towards and about women). Let’s also not forget that in 2004, he told NBC’s Dateline that pregnancy is “a wonderful thing for the woman, it’s a wonderful thing for the husband, it’s certainly an inconvenience for a business. And whether people want to say that or not, the fact is it is an inconvenience for a person that is running a business.” One line in a national address is certainly not a policy proposal, and it doesn’t mean his attitudes have changed. In fact, his lip service to Ivanka’s economic bill servicing American families may ultimately serve as a distraction from Trump’s darker ambitions in office, like rounding up people of color and giving his administration undemocratic, unlawful powers.
Correction: A previous version of this post omitted that employees have to have worked at their companies for at least a year to qualify for this unpaid leave.