Both sides won, both sides feel emboldened. That's not good.

Abby McCloskey, The Dallas Morning News, November 7, 2018

“You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief that it's over. The campaign yard signs soon to be replaced by holiday decorations. There's so much not to like about politics these days — the toxicity, the divisiveness.

For those into politics, there was victory for everyone in the 2018 midterms, a candle of hope for the political future depending on which side you fall.

Democrats are surely happy to have taken the House, ushering in the return of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrat leadership to key committees. For liberals, Tuesday was a resounding referendum on President Donald Trump's excesses from the body of Congress that most closely represents how the majority of Americans feel. Finally, a check on the wayward president.

Republicans are surely happy to have kept the Senate, holding off Democrats in some of the highest-profile races in the country, including Texas, with Democrat Beto O'Rourke losing to Republican Ted Cruz. For Republicans, their dominance in the Senate is an endorsement of Trump, whose family actively campaigned for so many of these senators; a wide-open runway to continue the conservative remaking of the judiciary and to protect the president from the liberal assault. "Tremendous success tonight. Thank you all," tweeted the president.

Both sides are emboldened. And yet zooming out, little has actually changed. The status quo of congressional inaction is likely to continue. . . . “ 


How Does Your Faith Impact Your Views On Economic Policy?

Abby McCloskey, Southern Methodist University, The O’Neil Center for Global Markets And Freedom, October 25, 2018

“I want to start by thanking the O’Neil Center for pulling together this conference. It’s a privilege to be part of. It is so refreshing that in the middle of tribalism and partisanship across the country to go back to the basics of faith, flourishing, and public policy.

I’ll divide my remarks into three parts: 1) The first is my faith foundation and how it informs my views about economic policy, 2) The second is our current economic reality, 3) And the third is a set of policies that I believe would be helpful going forward. . . ” 

A New Economic Agenda For Conservatives

Abby McCloskey, Gen Next, September 25, 2018

Tonight, I want to propose a new economic agenda for conservatives.  There are three big points I want to discuss:

1.     The Trump Administration has been good for growth. It’s not just what they’ve inherited; it’s what they have done.

2.     Economic growth is insufficient to address some of the major economic challenges we face in the 21st century economy: the crisis of work, the crisis of community, and the crisis of entitlement spending.

3.     We need to move beyond a growth only agenda. The country needs policies that get to the heart of some of these big challenges that address them from a uniquely conservative perspective. We need an economy that’s not just growing, but that’s inclusive and sustainable as well.  We will talk about what some of those policies might be.

So let’s get started:

Rubio Moves the Ball Forward on Paid Family Leave

Abby McCloskey, National Review, September 4, 2018

"Today’s political environment makes entitlement reform — however necessary — very challenging. Given that context, Rubio’s proposal has significant upsides for Republicans wanting a paid-parental-leave program absent any other new tax or spending changes and should be given serious consideration. At a minimum, it advances the conversation on paid leave and represents increasing bipartisan consensus that there’s a role for the government to play in helping new parents at a critical moment in their lives. That’s an enormous, and welcome, step forward for millions of Americans."




Microsoft to business partners: If you want to work with us, offer paid family leave

Danielle Paquette, The Washington Post, August 30, 2018

"Abby McCloskey, a conservative economist who has studied the issue, said Microsoft is sending the message that paid family leave should be a core worker benefit and not just a perk to lure top talent.

“This is a big change from how paid family leave has been viewed in the past,” she said. “There’s a cultural shift occurring as more employers offer paid leave, which is the good news.”


The Roots of Economic Opportunity Are Local -- In Our Homes, Work, and Communities

Abby McCloskey, The George Bush Presidential Center, The Catalyst, Summer 2018

"Traditional places of support and connection – family, work, and neighborhoods – have weakened in many parts of the country, often to considerable consequence. Indeed, some of the biggest challenges our country faces – from stagnant economic opportunity to the opioid crisis to rising mortality rates and political polarization – can find their roots in the breakdown of family, work, and community, our connection to each other." 



Our Perpetual Paid Leave Dilemma

Alice B. Lloyd, Weekly Standard, July 11, 2018

"Rejecting new ideas for a persistent problem technically doesn’t help working families either. “On the Left, there's a strong reluctance to separate paid parental leave from family and medical leave,” noted prominent paid-leave proponent and political consultant Abby McCloskey in an email to TWS before the hearing.

She’d anticipated today’s stalemate: “I agree that work should be done on family and medical leave, but there's much more momentum on parental leave and a strong fact base to support it,” McCloskey added, pointing to a body of research that supports the need for paid parental leave—including the correlation between decreased neonatal mortality and additional weeks’ paid leave."


Paid Parental Leave: Good for Kids

Abby McCloskey, National Review, June 12, 2018

"Paid parental leave is often discussed in terms of parents. It helps working mothers stay more attached to the labor force and boosts their future wages. It reduces families’ reliance on government benefits, such as food stamps. It allows fathers to spend more time with young children and share in the child-rearing.

But this leaves out the reason paid leave exists in the first place: There’s a new baby in the family. And this baby would benefit greatly from having a parent (or both parents) around. On this, the research is clear . . . "


The Benefits of a Paid Parental Leave Policy

Abby McCloskey & Aparna Mathur, The Washington Post, April 4, 2018

"In his April 1 op-ed, “Who’ll pay for paid family leave,” George F. Will argued against a federal paid parental-leave policy. His main critique was that it would add to our unsustainable debt trajectory, a concern that we share. But our $20 trillion in federal debt is being driven by Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security and the interest payments to sustain them, not a paid parental-leave policy.

Paid-leave policies proposed by Republicans cost less than one half of 1 percent of what we spent on entitlements last year. Entitlement reform alone will fix the nation’s debt trajectory.

Mr. Will argued that a paid parental-leave program would truncate state experience. The federal government can learn what has worked from long-running state examples and implement best practices. For example, there has been no evident decrease in employee pay or increase in employer burden from a public paid-leave policy. This is probably because state policies are limited. Costs would grow as the size of the policy increased.

While liberals have understated the costs, conservatives need not ignore the benefits, including higher wages for new mothers, less welfare dependency and improved health. Many families, including the vast majority of low-income families, do not have access to paid-leave policies.

The benefits of a limited paid parental-leave policy outweigh the costs and fill a critical gap in the safety net. The majority of Americans agree. It’s time to consider what types of policies would be most effective instead of swatting down new policies outright.  

Abby McCloskey, Dallas

Aparna Mathur, Washington

The writers are members of the
American Enterprise Institute-Brookings
Working Group on Paid Family and Medical Leave.



A Longer Response To George Will

Abby McCloskey and Aparna Mathur, AEI, April 5, 2018

"Half of Americans do not have $400 they could spend in an emergency, according to the Federal Reserve, let alone go weeks without a paycheck. And it’s not just about the costs of having the baby. It is about the ability to take that time off to have a baby, to recuperate and to look after the needs of the child, and to have a job when they would like to go back to work. While that is obviously common sense, it is also obviously much harder for a poor family to save up enough resources for such occasions. A social insurance approach — such as that we recommended in our report — that allows such costs to be shared across families may be more sensible in this regard."



WSJ Letter to the Editor

Abby McCloskey and Aparna Mathur, "Paid Leave Proposal Isn't A New Entitlement," March 5, 2018

"We take issue with the idea that government-paid parental-leave is political “suicide” for Republicans. Paid parental leave has been found to encourage workforce attachment for new mothers in particular, making it a pro-growth policy that should be in the Republicans’ wheelhouse. It has been found to reduce reliance on other government benefits, such as food stamps, making families more independent. And it has been found to improve mothers’ and children’s health outcomes, which should matter to a pro-family audience. On top of these things, paid parental leave would be relatively inexpensive, representing less than 1% spent on Social Security each year.

Instead of dismissing new programs outright, irrespective of merits, conservatives should be doing the hard work of reforming the existing system to make sense for the 21st-century economy.

We believe that includes the creation of a paid parental-leave program. Not only is it good economics, but one would think it smart politics, given conservatives’ lagging gap among women and voters of childbearing age."


For conservatives, Social Security could be key for paid leave reform

Abby McCloskey & Aparna Mathur, The Hill, February 18, 2018

"A new proposal by Kristin Shapiro of the Independent Women’s Forum and Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute may help break the logjam. Their plan would allow working families to claim Social Security benefits early in life, when they become parents, and “pay” for it later by delaying retirement. They estimate that a paid parental leave benefit of 12 weeks would require individuals to delay retirement by only six weeks. The benefit for an average worker at age 25 would be about $1,175 per month."


Republican tax reform goes through the wringer

Brian Fraga, The National Catholic Register, November 10, 2017

"Abby McCloskey, an economist who has advised multiple Republican presidential campaigns, told the Register that the child tax credit would need to be increased much more significantly in order to help a parent be able to stay home or take a longer leave of absence from work for the birth of a child. "It’s just not a significant amount of money, I think, to influence those types of decisions,” McCloskey said. . . .

McCloskey said she favors the bill’s move toward simplifying the tax code. “I think widening the standard deduction, reducing the number of brackets, those types of things that make it easier for wide swaths of the population to file taxes, is an improvement over the status quo,” she said."

D.C.'s paid-leave law needs improvement

Abby McCloskey, Isabel Sawhill, Aparna Mathur, The Washington Post, October 10, 2017

"The District recently passed one of the most expansive paid-leave laws in the nation. Signed without the approval of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), the law has had its fair share of opposition. Today, the D.C. Council will reopen the law to consider a slew of amendments. Some of the proposed changes make sense. Others threaten to make the law worse."


Testimony: Evaluating the Employer and Employee Impacts of Paid Leave Reform

Abby McCloskey, The City Council of Washington D.C., October 10, 2017

". . .  Paid leave is an important issue for today’s workforce, and there’s growing appetite for reform at the state and national level. But it’s important that the costs of such a policy do not outweigh the benefits – a likely result of several of the amendments under consideration today and the Washington D.C. paid leave law as it’s currently written. Reforms that bring the District’s policy more in-line with state experience, reduce the tax burden on employers and employees, and better account for the cumulative economic impact of business mandates would help to strengthen the law – providing an important benefit to the District’s workforce while helping to mitigate costs."

Click here to review the written testimony.

It will be posted in full on the Council of the District of Columbia's website following the Committee vote.

Tax Reform Is No Place For Paid Leave

Abby McCloskey, National Review, September 21, 2017

"In today’s modern economy, with the majority of parents working, this arrangement feels increasingly untenable. There’s evidence it also creates broader economic and social disruptions, such as mothers leaving their jobs, going on public assistance, or returning to work within days of giving birth for lack of other options, which can compromise the health outcomes of parent and child. So it’s good news that a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators is tackling the issue of paid leave. But the group’s approach leaves much to be desired."


The Family Leave Dilemma

Alice Lloyd, Weekly Standard Magazine, September 4, 2017

"Abby McCloskey was another member of the working group. An economist, political consultant, and leading conservative advocate for paid family leave, she was pregnant during the 2016 presidential primaries while working as a policy adviser for Texas’s Rick Perry—who dropped out of the race just at the tail end of her two-month paid maternity leave from the campaign. Republicans, she says, are “pro-life, pro-family, pro-opportunity,” and they face a values test with the issue of paid leave. “If they don’t move on this, I think it will be an obvious sign, and it’s not just that they didn’t like the Democrats’ proposal or it was impossible to come to a compromise,” says McCloskey, an expectant mother once again. “This is an issue that is central to what the party says it values.” Republicans, she adds, will have “no one else to blame if this doesn’t pass, so that’s a really heavy burden and a crucial test.”

As younger lawmakers inherit the GOP, the Eisenhower-era ideal of household roles fades further from memory and new types of pro-family policy are gaining ground. McCloskey perceives “more appetite for this policy among younger politicians, and certainly among women politicians who have experienced firsthand having a child and breastfeeding.” Marco Rubio, she notes, is a 46-year-old father of four. “I think the reason why he would propose a plan, and why Ivanka Trump in her mid-30s would make it her focus, is that people who have first-hand experience [of the modern family] are going to be the biggest advocates.”

“While the public policy process is messy and slow,” says McCloskey, “the ground is softening on paid leave.”