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Kirsten Gillibrand's #Opportunityplan: Redistribution, lies and a nugget of good policy

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., revealed her five-point “Opportunity Plan” on Monday, designed to end what she called “Mad Men”-era workplace policies.

Of course, her solutions involve redistributionist, feel good policies that sound good but will do more harm than good. And of course, she sprinkles in the “women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men” myth Democrats love to perpetuate.

Here are her proposals:

1. Paid family and medical leave insurance

Gillibrand is right that the U.S. does not guarantee a paid maternity leave program, which is pretty ridiculous for a first-world country.

But her solution is another tax on the American people – 0.2 percent of their wages to be exact. That’s less than $2 a week for the average worker, or $104 a year, according to Gillibrand.

This money would be used to establish “an independent trust fund supported by employee and employer contributions,” in order to make paid leave available to every worker in the country. So, even if you don’t have kids and don’t plan to have kids, good news! You get to pay for someone else to have kids.

Now, our taxes pay for public schools whether we have children or not, but should they also pay for maternity leave? Is this the best solution?

Aren't benefits something to consider when choosing a job? The Family and Medical Leave Act requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, provided the workers have been at the firm for a year and have worked 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.

Any update to that law would result in changes to employer behavior, such as lower wages or fewer benefits for all.

It might be a good conversation to have, but with continued stagnant wages, can American workers deserve to lose 0.2 percent of their income?

2. Increasing the minimum wage

This continues to be a Democrat talking point despite evidence the increase is not necessary and may be harmful to young workers trying to gain experience.

Gillibrand claims that 88 percent of minimum wage workers are more than 20 years old and 86 percent work 20 hours or more a week.

Those numbers seem high, but with a little more context, there doesn’t seem to be an urgent problem, as Democrats would have you believe.

My colleague David Freddoso, pointing to BLS data, noted that just 2.5 percent of American workers make minimum wage or less, and that many of those are restaurant workers who also earn tips. Further, 0.9 of all American workers earn minimum wage and are working full-time. And only 49 percent of minimum wage earners are older than 25.

3. Universal pre-kindergarten

The worst part of this proposal is that it encourages an expansion of Head Start, a government program that doesn't improve cognitive abilities of children who attend versus those who do not. Also, the program resulted in lower math abilities for children who attended.

Since Head Start doesn’t work, the proposal seems to be more an attempt to buy votes by shifting the responsibility of pre-K education costs from parents to the government (tax increases, anyone?)

4. Equal pay for women

How many times can Democrats and President Obama get away with this myth? Women only make 77 cents on the dollar if you don't take into account the choices women make when it comes to their careers -- such as types of career and flexibility of hours.

One study from 2009 found that after accounting for occupation, experience, education and other choices, women earn 95 cents compared to men. But that doesn't sound as menacing as 77 cents.

5. Affordable childcare

This was the only proposal of Gillibrand’s that didn’t have a completely Big Government solution. Instead, Gillibrand suggested allowing families to deduct the cost of childcare expense as a business expense. That sounds like something conservatives could get behind.

Gillibrand also suggested giving low-income families access to a refundable tax credit to help pay for childcare.

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