Manchin is backing what appears to be a new payroll tax on workers and businesses to fund paid leave.
“I think that basically employers and employees should participate,” he told Insider.
He threw cold water on Pelosi’s move to add four weeks of paid leave back into the $1.75 trillion social spending bill.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he believes both workers and employers should pay up to kickstart a national paid leave program.
The West Virginia Democrat emphasized that he could be on board with a paid leave program, but didn’t believe that it belonged in the current package because Democrats are employing a party-line reconciliation process. He further argued that both workers and employers should pay into the measure.
“I think that basically employers and employees should participate,” he told Insider. “We have states around this country doing it now. We have countries around the world doing it and it seems to work very well and does not put a burden on anybody.”
Manchin went on: “But a person knows what they have and what they can use and how they can use it when they want it.”
The West Virginia Democrat is backing what appears to be a payroll tax that’s levied on both employers and workers to fund the benefit. Modest payroll taxes were part of an earlier proposal put forward by other Democrats like Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Sen. Kyrsten Gillibrand of New York to create a 12 week leave initiative.
President Joe Biden initially sought 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave as part of his economic spending package. But the $500 billion measure recently fell out of the plan after Manchin objected to its sizable price tag.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Wednesday that four weeks of paid leave was being added back into the $1.75 trillion social spending framework, a development Manchin said caught him off guard. He didn’t seem any likelier to back it on Wednesday.
“That’s a challenge,” he told reporters. “Very much of a challenge and they know how I feel about that.” All 50 Senate Democrats must back the bill so it clears the upper chamber in the face of expected unified Republican opposition and reaches Biden’s desk.
Experts say that a new payroll tax could help fund the benefit, but eat up a sizable chunk of wages, particularly among lower-paid workers.
“A shared payroll contribution model is one way to approach paid leave,” Vicki Shabo, a paid leave expert at the New America Foundation, told Insider. “But it isn’t the only way, especially when the country’s tax structure is so heavily weighted against working people.”
Shabo argued it was an “earned benefit” with positive effects for workers, families, businesses and the economy.
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