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July 15th, 2014
03:31 PM ET

Reloaded: Maternity leave has its costs

Crossfire's S.E. Cupp warns that paid family leave is a double-edged sword.


S.E. Cupp: France? Really France? We’re looking to France because they have a model economy!

Paid family leave whereby you go away for months and are paid as if you were showing up to work sounds great and it is, but it’s not without its costs.

And in selling this idea, President Obama doesn’t often talk about the costs. One of his favorite arguments is “Hey, if France has figured this out, so can we.” But France hasn’t figured this out.

Women in that country hold fewer leadership positions in the private sector than we do here. That’s because there is a cost.

His other favorite argument is Fortune 500 companies are already doing this because they know they need to retain the best talent.

Well sure they can afford to, but the small business who’s still reeling from the last economic crisis and is dealing with the last government mandate, Obamacare, maybe can’t afford to and so that small business will fire people, will hire fewer people, will alter or cut their existing benefits packages altogether.

And then what are women left with? There’s a cost to all of these entitlement programs, and as well intentioned as they may be, we still need to discuss what they’re going to cost working families.

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Filed under: Reloaded • S.E. Cupp
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Art

    This is an informative link on the topic.

    July 31, 2014 at 12:45 am | Reply
  2. Lulu

    I'm really glad we are at least talking about this topic, now. However, I (along with many of the other commenters) wish that we would take in more open terms than "France." I am an American living in Canada, where they, of course, have paid PARENTAL leave. Note that I stated "Parental" and not "Maternity." That is because in Canada, either the mom OR dad OR a combo of the two can take off up to a year. In Canada, 25% of the politicians are female; in the US, it is less than 14%. However, new parents don't just get "paid as though they are at work," but instead are paid about 50% through unemployment insurance. The employee can "top up" up to 100%... the Canadian fed government tops up to around 90% or higher. The interesting thing is that the employers higher "1 year temp" employees to fill in for the new parent during leave. There are people who spend their whole career going from one temp to another, gaining valuable experience. It truly is fascinating to watch. In terms of math, if you are paying many people to be on unemployment insurance, then a parent takes a year of leave for a new baby, and that parent goes on unemployment... one person can come OFF unemployment to work in that parent's job for a year – earning a valid salary and gaining experience. To me it's pretty simple. There are many many examples, as every industrialized nation in the world (except the US) has paid parental leave, so I really hope the conversation continues, and we find a way to make this work. Also, maybe if more women became interested in politics or ran for office, then we would see this as more of a priority?

    July 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Reply
    • rob

      Good point.

      July 25, 2014 at 10:18 am | Reply
    • Joanie

      How refreshing yo hear a voice of reason. I hope SE reads your comment as well as danicalifornia. I also lived there when my husband had a job there and there are times I wish I was back. I have been back 7 years and can't believe how greedy the GOP have become and how blase` the voting electorate is about their party. One example. The 9 worst states to live in – all red states. Now tell me, what is the problem with the people who live there, that they keep voting GOP??

      July 25, 2014 at 10:40 am | Reply
  3. Libertarian Man

    Like it or not, but men and women are not created equal. For example women live much longer than men, should we increase their retirement age to compensate? Should we increase their SS & Medicare taxes or dilute their payments out of SS & Medicare? The point life isn't fair, but I can do better than that. If your a pregnant women ask yourself an important question: Did your employer ask their government–your government, to force you to have sex? child? The obvious answer is "No." So how do you think it is right as a woman to ask of your government–that business's government, to pay for your birth control and/or maternity leave?

    If you want to be treated like a man, then don't have kids.......we already have too many kids being born into this country by people who can't afford to have them anyways, the last thing we need to do is incentive it.

    July 24, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Reply
    • Joanie

      OMG!!!!! Go take a chill pill and relax, in case you forgot it is not 1920 anymore. There are more of us than you. I don't usually respond to nonsense but you are already over the edge of sanity so get back in your cave and stay there!

      July 25, 2014 at 10:33 am | Reply
  4. gustifer53

    SE is not worth hearing, cause she ONLY has the GOP/Tea Party in mind when she talks. She like them, are bought and paid for by the Right wing nuts and the Filthy Rich. Just wondering why CNN hasn't reported anything about Palin's speeding ticket. I'm just assuming she was in a hurry to get to her kkk meeting...They report everything else about her insanity???

    July 23, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  5. Joanie

    How come in Canada they get a full year of paid maternity leave and here we are going back to work in 3 weeks?

    July 23, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Reply
    • rob

      Canada cares more about the family unit than the U.S.

      July 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • danicalifornia

      I cannot believe Canadians get a one year paid leave. And get your facts straight: maternity leave is 3 months and it has been that way for decades. Men can take a leave, but it is unpaid.

      July 23, 2014 at 10:20 pm | Reply
      • Joanie

        Well excuse me! I lived in Canada and it is one year paid leave. One year for mom or you can split the time with dad but it us one year, 12 months. Get your facts straight!

        July 25, 2014 at 10:25 am |
  6. Rich McKinney

    This brings up an interesting question. We have laws against discrimination based on sex. But that's based on the assumption that costs are the same and any bias is just discrimination. If there is a valid cost difference, especially a significant one, a hiring bias discrimination or just good business? Anyone know the legal answer?

    July 22, 2014 at 8:00 am | Reply
    • rob

      Interesting especially if your assumptions are accurate. I could see it being more cost-efficient for businesses to prefer hiring men for the simple fact that women can get pregnant and will need time off for that very reason. Consequently, reduced employment for women may result. My solution to counteract this would be to have paid paternity leave for both parents like other countries have done. By doing so, you remove any financial discentives businesses may face with hiring women as it relates to pregnancy. Paid paternity leave for both genders is fair and strengthens the family unit without favoring one gender over the other.

      July 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  7. Kristine

    "Crossfire Reloaded"???? Now...if a conservative media outlet used those words.....all the gun-hating liberals would have their panties in a wad! What's with the violent rhetoric?

    July 21, 2014 at 11:21 am | Reply
    • rob


      July 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Reply
  8. Cassie

    I am sure SE Cupp will be taking maternity leave from CNN. Don't you think that the lack of maternity leave and other vital fringe benefits might deter people from starting a family or expanding their family? Ugh, it's truly so sad to think of how backwards American society is becoming. We are backtracking, not progressing on important socioeconomic issues.

    July 20, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Reply

    Maternity leave is now an entitlement to the Guns Over People teatards. Women and their babies don't need that. No surprise here. Their motto is " If you need birth control you must be a sl**. "

    July 20, 2014 at 6:58 am | Reply
  10. Technoman

    I retired after 36 years with a company that always did provide for paid maternity leave...there was never any question. Somehow they keep making money...go figure.

    July 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  11. JOSE


    July 19, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Reply
    • 54StarryNights

      First of all, it is not "maternity leave" it is "parental leave" because by law must be made available to both men and women. Secondly, any company that decides not to hire equally qualified women just because they have the potential to have children is breaking the law and is just plain stupid to start with. A company should always hire the best possible employee. In today's world where companies show little or no loyalty to their employees and workers as a result change jobs and companies more than they used to, nothing says either a male or female employee is going to stick around. Unlike in other countries, parental leave in the U.S. is not even paid parental leave.

      July 21, 2014 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  12. JOSE


    July 19, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  13. luc

    S E Cupp good looking makes me want to throw up when she talks. Women should never worry about maternity leave it should be a right for them. I can't believe the so called best country in the world don't have maternity leave. They shouldn't have to worry about loosing their jobs raising a family. ridiculous

    July 18, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Reply
    • Sarah

      Why on earth does she care more about businesses than she does about people? Its hurting the businesses if they provide this??? What about the mothers and children that would be out of the income necessary to live? You've got to be kidding me.

      July 19, 2014 at 8:02 am | Reply
      • rob

        S.E. is a hipster Republican, that's why.

        July 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
  14. So is

    Paying people is also a double edge sword for the GOP. The GOP would rather everyone work for free (slaves) with no medical care.

    July 18, 2014 at 9:23 am | Reply
  15. Alex

    It's a double standard, Conservatives don't advocate for huge cuts in defense spending, less spending on criminal justice for drug crimes and other near victim less crimes, it's funny because paid family leave won't cost taxpayers a dime, isn't that a conservative idea, much like obamacare is a conservative idea because taxpayer's aren't funding universal healthcare?

    S.E. also is touting the small vs. big business argument to play the sympathy card, you shouldn't have to if your argument is on sound footing, big business such as a costco may be more or less friendly then your neighboorhood bodega who rips you off, similarly a pharmacy chain might be less friendly than a mom and pop, however if a restaurant is loved by a community and expands a few locations, are they suddenly bad because they are a bigger business?

    Lots of countries have ML, I am not arguing whether or not we should have it, but S.E. is cherry picking and playing cards to justify an argument rather than sound principal or because "Everything's obama's fault", should S.E. mention the other countries that have ML rather than France which are several? Maybe ML will save taxpayers money since the government won't have to subsidize childcare? Wait is that an "obama idea"? I don't see a serious debater.

    July 17, 2014 at 4:39 am | Reply
  16. kurt

    I took FMLA (unpaid leave) when we adopted my son due to my wife not having any leave (she had just started a new job and hadn't worked long enough to qualify for FMLA). In addition to not being paid, I also had to pay for my insurance out of pocket (about 750 dollars a month) as that was a benefit for working and as I was on leave I was not.

    I think a paid medical leave for those who go through childbirth (of a couple of weeks perhaps) is reasonable... and perhaps not putting the burden of insurance on employees using FMLA (or allowing them to pay when they come back to work in installments deducted from their paychecks) is perhaps something

    As for the hit at France... the IMF has France's per-capita GDP at about 43,000 US dollars compared to 53,000 for the US. I don't think Maternity leave is a huge reason though... Australia has 18 weeks of paid maternity leave offered through the government (at their minimum wage) and their per-capita GDP is around 64,000.

    Luxembourg, which has the highest per captia GDP at 110,000 per person, has a REQUIREMENT that you not work for the first 8 weeks after pregnancy, an optional 8 weeks before projected delivery and ther employers must pay them 6 months of paid time off that can be taken at any time up until the child turns 5... for EACH PARENT (so parent 1 could take the first 6 months and parent 2 could take the second).

    And again... highest per capita GDP in the world. So... I'm not sure there's a strong correlation between PTO for maternity/paternity and economic success for a nation.

    July 16, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Reply
    • Alex

      Correct, but don't cherry pick a country especially a tiny one as a example of a policy in favor of ML.

      July 17, 2014 at 4:41 am | Reply
      • kurt

        I did mention two different countries with higher per-capita GDP's then the US (Luxembourg and Australia).

        Canada has almost the same GDP per capita as the US does. They require 50 weeks of paternity/maternity leave (shared between mother and father) at 55% of normal rate of pay.

        In north and south america, the US is the only nation that doesn't have legislation requiring employers to provide some sort of maternity leave. All european nations have legislation mandating maternity leave. All african nations have legislation mandating maternity leave. In Asia and the Pacific Islands, only Papua New Guinea dosn't have mandated maternity leave.

        So... in the entire world the only two countries that don't have laws providing maternity leave are the United States and Papua New Guinea.

        July 17, 2014 at 11:00 am |
    • Alex

      We can also argue that countries worse off than America have ML, the United States to an extent although in many cases variable, is an odd country, it's federalist in many aspects but in practice is not, so there isn't a national policy or tradition of regulating these things.

      I think the hit on France is because conservatives don't like that country even if has policies that are right, we knocked them on IRAQ, and often tout them as a leftest failure, often if you do something right even if it's not completely right your bound to be knocked. Will the same folks knock the SWISS or Scandinavian countries who have great economies for their more extreme policies?

      The problem with SE is she is basing arguments more of rhetoric and ideology rather than a sound argument.

      July 17, 2014 at 4:52 am | Reply
  17. PharmGrl

    Two points:
    1. Unless family leave applies to both sexes, males will be preferred employees.
    2. The more expensive we in the US make employees, the faster companies will outsource, replace human employees with kiosks and robotics, move plants to other countries, hire part timers instead of full timers.
    Amazing that many on the Left think its a great idea to emulate Stuck in the 20th Century European Welfare States.

    July 16, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Reply
    • Alex

      I can easily twist the argument that countries we less social welfare don't necessarily do better.

      July 17, 2014 at 4:44 am | Reply
  18. STARFISH53

    I gues Cupp did not read the Grant Thorton International Business Report before commenting where it is stated that in the US 22% of leadership positions are held by women while in France that number 24%, yeah! next time check your facts before making unfunded coments, then again that is The Repukes way of doing business make unfunded statements hoping nobody checks....

    July 16, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  19. DRJJ

    France is a poor role model for most everything-a real basket case. However, we should encourage mothers to stay home and raise their kids. Turn on the news for the results if we don't.

    July 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Reply
    • Alex

      I disagree, in fact many children actually may want some independence from their parents even though they miss them.

      July 17, 2014 at 4:42 am | Reply
  20. The GOP Solution

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    July 16, 2014 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • DRJJ

      I'm guessing you're female, black, gay and militant.

      July 16, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Reply
      • I'm guessing

        I'm guessing that you agree with the Mantra.

        July 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
      • OhPlease

        Or maybe they're just smart. I'm guessing you're a stright white male? Oh wait, that would be overgeneralising and completely uncalled for. If we wanted to cut down on drug use, alchoholism and white collar crime, why not stop hiring white men? Because that would be unfair to all the men who don't abuse the system. Who cares that for every mother who has to go on maternity leave there is a father behind her that isn't getting discriminated against? Apparently not you.

        Why can't we all grow up and stop caring about gender, sexual orientation, and race when hiring? Why does it even matter? And don't give all this "Oooh baw minorities!" crap, less than 10% of white folks are below the poverty line, yet we make up nearly 39% of all welfare recipients. Welfare payes more than a minimum wage job in 39 out of 50 US states; hell, it pays more than a teacher's wage in 8 states.
        And before you ask, I am a straight, white, female with no children or plans to have any children, I work to support myself and do not expect any government "handouts." I am happy to pay the extra taxes required to give mothers paid maternity leave because I realise that making it so a mother doesn't have to quit to raise her children keeps her above the poverty line and off that welfare you despise so much. I also realise that keeping the mother above the poverty line also means her children will likely have better accesss to education and will not end up in the welfare system themselves.

        Hell, I pay state taxes even though I'm not required to, and can only barely afford to, because I know that despite gross missuse by my state's straight, white, republican politicians, at least a little bit of it is going to good use. (Military members stationed outside of my state don't pay state tax.) I appoligize for the rant, but I find it irritating when rabid republicans start freaking out about "our precious tax dollars!" When nine out ten of our highest dollar spent to dollar paid in taxes states are solidly republican, and the ten lowest are democratic. Meaning that democrats are actually the ones paying the extra in taxes. I'd also like to add that the Tax Foundation, the place I cited that research from, is nonpartisan.

        July 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
  21. rob

    I agree with the previous posts. S.E. Cupp acts as if the other countries that do have maternity leave don't have small businesses or don't have to be concerned with costs. Paid maternity leave may be costly (though in the wealthiest country, there are a number of ways budget-wise to pull it off), but at least by doing it, it'll show where this country's priorities are. Don't our hard working mothers, sisters, aunts and fellow Americans deserve the necessary paid time off to support and nurture their newborns? I think they do and just hope Congress will get their act together and make it happen.

    July 15, 2014 at 11:42 pm | Reply
  22. Dave Walker

    I hope that this witch never has kids. She is an embarrassment to all woman. Can you imagine a woman even saying this? What an ass she is. I am being respectful to fellow commentators on here because this witch turns my stomach.

    July 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Reply
    • johndubbya77

      Ummmm moron she and her husband who could easily kick your arse (in your mom's basement) are expecting their first child...

      July 16, 2014 at 7:55 am | Reply
      • MartyGRMI

        Ah, so she has no experience raising a Child and has the money to hire if nanny to boot. Lucky her!

        July 16, 2014 at 11:10 am |
  23. robecology

    Here's the cost for NOT improving our (terrible) record of vacation and maternity leave;
    Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. industry more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity and medical, legal and insurance costs (Rosch, 2001). From

    July 15, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Reply
    • Alex

      You can make the argument that if a company wants to retain an employee and increase business productivity it can do so,
      but not every company can be like a costco, you can also argue that in industries where it isn't necessary, it makes no sense, and even argue that it could be beneficial to the employee not to offer those benefits so they move on and increase their own productivity. For those who don't have children or multiple ones, do they subsidize them, or what about folks won't don't care too much about vacations as much as others do.

      July 17, 2014 at 4:56 am | Reply
  24. sasss31

    America is the only country in the western world without maternity leave. It is a shame and it puts our kids in jeopardy as early bonding with the mother has shown to be vital for kids. Without a parent in the home in these beginning stages, we will all suffer later for it.

    July 15, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Reply
    • Alex

      Not necessarily, as I can make the argument that countries with ML have more terrible outcomes then we do.

      July 17, 2014 at 4:43 am | Reply
      • kurt

        Every country in the UN other then Papua New Guinea has maternity leave required by law.

        So... you'll be able to find examples of better and worse outcomes because EVERYONE else (both in better and worse situations) offers maternity leave.

        July 17, 2014 at 11:02 am |
      • kurt

        Of course that's every country in the UN other then Papua New Guinea and the United States.

        July 17, 2014 at 11:07 am |

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