Rubio’s plan isn’t perfect. Accessing Social Security benefits earlier in life may hurt lower-income women and men who may need those benefits later in life even more than middle-class voters. Many question the viability of the plan because Social Security is already in trouble, with a 2017 Social Security Trustees report suggesting that the fund could be completely depleted by 2034. And still others have argued that private businesses might get rid of their own (perhaps more generous) paid leave plans if they believe the government will cover the cost for them.
But Rubio and his reform conservative counterparts recognize that the government will offer benefits to its citizens, of one sort or another — the key is in “structuring those benefits in a way that allows individuals and communities to make their own decisions,” as Robert Verbruggen writes at The American Conservative. This is why plans for a child tax credit or child allowance, along with a paid family leave plan, have been priorities for congressmen like Rubio and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). They recognize that a party with a pro-family and pro-life agenda must back up their rhetoric with real policies — policies that recognize that our country’s birth rates, marriage rates, and two-parent households are all declining. Conservatism, after all, isn’t just about not spending money. It’s about conserving things — things that matter for holistic flourishing and the common good. Surely the happiness and well-being of the nation’s mothers and children should be included in that paradigm.