MSNBC: U.S. Is 'Weird Anomaly' for Not Requiring Paid Parental Leave

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Sunday's Kasie D.C. show, MSNBC host Kasie Hunt followed in the footsteps of her colleague Katy Tur in calling for a federal law in the U.S. to require employees receive paid parental leave.

At 7:54 p.m. Eastern, Hunt began her commentary by recalling that she had just returned from parental leave which her husband was also able to take with her. She soon complained about the U.S. being the only wealthy country that does not legally require that employees receive paid leave.

KASIE HUNT: The United States is the only rich country in the world that doesn't have a law on the books requiring paid leave for new parents. In 2018, only 16 percent of Americans in the private sector said that they had access to paid leave. The U.S. maternal mortality rate is the highest in the developed world, and it is rising when it is falling almost everywhere else. It is 2019 -- I'm sorry, it is 2020 -- and women are still dying needlessly in childbirth, and this is a global embarrassment.

After noting how little interest there is in considering including new fathers in addition to mothers, she turned to MSNBC contributor Katty Kay of the BBC to get her views:

HUNT: Now, there are some signs that things are changing. While I was away, Congress passed 12 weeks for federal workers, and it is about time for that. But, Katty Kay, this is not a new problem. You're a working mom -- you fought battles way harder than any battle I will ever have to fight. But this is something -- and part of why I wanted to talk about this is because I just feel like we need to talk about it over and over and over and over and over again, or the message is never going to get through. How do we fix it?

After the two noted and praised the reported one in four mothers who return to work within two weeks of giving birth, Kay described the United States as a "weird anomaly" on the issue of paid parental leave:

KAY: And they do it because they have no choice because you are this weird anomaly in the world that doesn't give parents paid leave when they have babies. It's not good for the children -- it's not good for the parents -- and it's not good for relationships. And you're right that the key now to the future is paid paternity leave. Fathers have to stay home. It's very good for the children. I'm sure it was good for your relationship with your husband, too, to have fathers staying home as well. And that mommy gap that you spoke about in terms of the mommy penalty, as it's known in terms of what we earn as mothers, how we lose our earnings -- that is not going to change until fathers stay home with their babies. There is no way it will, and so we really have to start pushing for that, too.

Hunt then ended the segment by agreeing with her colleague: "I 100 percent -- I completely agree with you. Just to underscore, as it stands now, our systems, they're failing America's families, and that means we're failing our children, and it's time for us to do better as Katty so eloquently put it."

Below is a transcript of most of Kasie Hunt's commentary and discussion from the Sunday, January 5, Kasie D.C. on MSNBC:

KASIE HUNT: Most Americans don't have access to any of this. The United States is the only rich country in the world that doesn't have a law on the books requiring paid leave for new parents. In 2018, only 16 percent of Americans in the private sector said that they had access to paid leave. The U.S. maternal mortality rate is the highest in the developed world, and it is rising when it is falling almost everywhere else. It is 2019 -- I'm sorry, it is 2020 -- and women are still dying needlessly in childbirth, and this is a global embarrassment. And we're barely able to even have a conversation beyond that about paternity leave even though studies show that dads who take leave are giving their families benefits that last for years after their leave ends.

Now, there are some signs that things are changing. While I was away, Congress passed 12 weeks for federal workers, and it is about time for that. But, Katty Kay, this is not a new problem. You're a working mom -- you fought battles way harder than any battle I will ever have to fight. But this is something -- and part of why I wanted to talk about this is because I just feel like we need to talk about it over and over and over and over and over again, or the message is never going to get through. How do we fix it?

KATTY KAY: We need to keep reminding Americans that they are an anomaly -- that one in four Americans go back to work two weeks after giving birth. Imagine that, Kasie.

HUNT: I cannot -- I cannot. And to all of you who do -- and there are so many out there who do -- they are saints, heroes. I cannot believe that they do it.

KAY: And they do it because they have no choice because you are this weird anomaly in the world that doesn't give parents paid leave when they have babies. It's not good for the children -- it's not good for the parents -- and it's not good for relationships. And you're right that the key now to the future is paid paternity leave. Fathers have to stay home. It's very good for the children. I'm sure it was good for your relationship with your husband, too, to have fathers staying home as well. And that mommy gap that you spoke about in terms of the mommy penalty, as it's known in terms of what we earn as mothers, how we lose our earnings -- that is not going to change until fathers stay home with their babies. There is no way it will, and so we really have to start pushing for that, too.

HUNT: I 100 percent -- I completely agree with you. Just to underscore, as it stands now, our systems, they're failing America's families, and that means we're failing our children, and it's time for us to do better as Katty so eloquently put it.

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