Ivanka Trump phoning Republicans in Congress to lobby for child-care plans

Initially Ivanka was going to operate outside the administration, managing the family businesses with her brothers once Trump himself withdrew from them. Then it looked like she wouldn’t be on the business side after all but would join her father and husband in the new administration somewhere. That developed further with news that she’d be getting space in the East Wing that typically goes to the First Lady, supporting the theory that Ivanka will be taking on the public duties of FLOTUS more than Melania Trump will. And now here’s the IJ Review with news that Ivanka’s already out in front on legislation, dialing up congressional Republicans to lobby for legislation on one of her pet causes, creating tax incentives — and a new entitlement — related to child care.

In short, in the span of about six weeks, she’s gone from someone who wouldn’t be involved in government to maybe the most influential “First Lady” on policy matters since, er, Hillary Clinton. Come to think of it, they’re both liberals and they’re both from New York. Maybe someday Ivanka too will blaze a trail to the Senate and eventually to her party’s presidential nomination, only to lose the election to Kanye West or some other rich guy who thought it’d be fun to run and beat the political nerds at their own game.

Sarah Chamberlain, the president and CEO of the center-right organization Republican Main Street Partnership, told Independent Journal Review that Ivanka Trump has been calling Republican members of Congress since her father’s victory last month.

“She’s calling some to talk about the child care provisions,” Chamberlain said. “It’s gonna be a big issue for her.”…

“I think she’s hoping to [play a large role in the administration]. It did come out she’s gonna have an office in the East Wing and actually I think she’s gonna be a great addition. I think she was a huge help in getting her father elected.”

In case you’ve forgotten, Trump’s Ivanka-crafted child-care plan caused a ripple among the three conservatives left in the party when he announced it in September, as it guarantees six weeks of paid maternity leave for new mothers. Under the plan, if your employer won’t cover the cost of that, Uncle Sam will. The expense to taxpayers will, supposedly, be offset by eliminating fraud from the federal unemployment insurance program, but ridding programs of “waste, fraud, and abuse” is a classic lip-service panacea for new federal spending. Americans like the idea of paid family leave, though, even if they’re uncertain about exactly who should pay for it. With Trump pushing Republicans to get onboard with taxpayer funding and Democrats already sure to back a new entitlement, it’s a cinch that a majority will support letting the feds handle it before too long. If Trump can get the right to rethink Vladimir Putin, he can get them to rethink paid maternity leave. And we’ve already learned a lesson from the Carrier deal: If a policy is popular, whether or not it sets a bad precedent is of secondary concern.

Ironically, despite taking a very Democrat-friendly position on this, Trump’s likely to face liberal pushback because — why else? — his entitlement doesn’t go far enough.

One criticism of this approach “is that it is only available to new moms and not new dads, and it is also unclear whether reforms of unemployment insurance would be sufficient to fund this program,” said Lisa Horn, director of congressional affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The proposal also has been criticized for not covering single mothers or adoptive or foster parents. “Democrats have an entirely different approach to paid leave, so I don’t envision this proposal gaining bipartisan support,” she said.

No worries. If Republicans don’t expand the scope of family leave up front, when they create the program, Democrats will do it for them once they’re back in power. That’s how our federal government works, after all. As for Ivanka, I wonder what this effort portends for her interest in climate change. If she’s successful in twisting arms on the Hill for child-care tax reform, it’ll only encourage her to apply pressure on global-warming measures too. And she will, assuredly, be successful in this case: Any Republican who’s on the fence about her maternity leave proposal would be a fool to vote no and risk alienating Trump’s favorite child and closest advisor. A new entitlement is a small price to pay for the Trump family’s favor.

Since we’re on the subject, here’s one of my favorite radio clips from Campaign 2016 — Rush Limbaugh, on the day after Trump announced his maternity-leave plan in September, reminding his listeners that voters don’t care about reducing government and that it’s silly to spend time obsessing over what, say, Ted Cruz would have proposed to deal with this problem. Exit question: Is Ivanka going to run into trouble as de facto First Lady under federal anti-nepotism laws? Even if she’s not working in a formal advisory role, the fact that she’ll have an office in the White House could be a problem. And even if she refuses to accept a salary, other laws prevent the feds from using volunteers.