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Critics Blast Ivanka Trump For Hypocrisy On Paid Parental Leave

Ivanka Trump at a February 2016 campaign rally for her father. (Photo: Marc Nozell)
Ivanka Trump at a February 2016 campaign rally for her father. (Photo: Marc Nozell)

In an interview criticized for its softball questions, critics say Ivanka Trump took unwarranted credit for a new federal worker parental leave policy.

In an interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan on Sunday, Senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump spoke about the new policy of paid parental leave for federal government workers as a result of “2½ years of building our coalitions of support for this policy.” But while Ivanka appeared to take credit for the new benefits, critics point to her failures to provide her own employees with parental leave as evidence that the policy change was more likely to have been negotiated by House Democrats in exchange for funding President Trump’s Space Force.

“It is not acceptable that, in America today, 1 in 4 women go back to work two weeks after having a child,” Ivanka told Brennan, citing a statistic from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Besides the United States, the only countries in the world that do not offer statutory paid maternity leave are the Marshall Islands and Papua New Guinea.

“By comparison, Estonia gives women 85 weeks at full pay for maternity leave,” wrote the Guardian’s Miranda Bryant, “while the UK, found by Unicef to be one of the least family-friendly of the world’s richest countries, offers maternity leave for the equivalent of 12 weeks full pay.”

The Washington Post’s James Downie notes that the new parental leave guarantee for federal workers, included as part of the most recent defense spending bill, looks more like traditional straight forward parental leave policies advocated for by Democrats than the policies that Ivanka has supported, such as a bill that would provide a loan of up to $5,000 to cover time off that would be repaid by cuts to the families’ child tax credits, and another plan that would cut time off from future Social Security income. Ivanka criticized the Democratic parental leave bill in the interview, which the new benefits closely resemble, as “stale.

Additionally, Ivanka critics argue that Ivanka has not displayed her professed concern about parental leave to her own employees.

Ivanka’s former chief marketing officer Marissa Kraxberger wrote in a Facebook post that she and her colleagues had to fight “long and hard to get [you] to finally agree to 8 weeks paid maternity leave,” and the contractor that designs her clothing line also “does not offer workers a single day of paid maternity leave”. Ivanka does “not have managerial control” over the contractor, but “there is no public evidence that she advocated for paid maternity leave at that firm,” according to the Washington Post.

“The reason Trump’s employees had to convince her on paid leave is the same reason that the policies she’s supporting fall so short: Not everyone has her resources,” wrote Downie. “‘I can see how it might be possible to go back to work after having a baby when you have a lot of help at home,’ wrote Kraxberger. And borrowing against a future child tax credit or retirement savings is easy for the wealthy. But for most Americans that’s a real sacrifice to make to receive a fraction of the benefits countless other countries have implemented with ease.”

The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan criticized CBS’ Margaret Brennan for not challenging Ivanka’s claims during the interview and offered a series of hypothetical questions he believes would better perform journalism’s responsibility to hold the powerful to account:

“You are speaking today as a senior adviser to the president on women’s empowerment,” Hasan posed as a question, “so what do you say to at least 25 different women who have accused your father, the president, of sexual harassment and assault? What’s your response, in particular, to the accusation this past summer from the writer E. Jean Carroll that your father raped her in a department store changing room?”

Hasan also posed potential questions about Ivanka and Jared Kushner’s positions as senior advisers to the president on foreign policy despite having no relevant experience, and noted their controversial security clearances:

“You told ABC News that your father had ‘no involvement’ in the granting of controversial security clearances to you and your husband, and yet we have since learned that Trump personally pushed for you both to be given clearances, against the advice of his then-chief of staff John Kelly and then-White House counsel Don McGahn. You weren’t telling the truth in that ABC News interview, were you?”

The most challenging question of the interview was likely in reference to Ivanka’s opposition to the Trump administration’s child separation policy and the 900 children who remain separated from their families, to which Ivanka responded by saying that “immigration is not part of my portfolio.”

Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a co-owner Citizen Truth.

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