Ivanka Trump is walking a fine line these days, as she works to cultivate her own brand of feminism while acting as an adviser to a president whose administration had carved out a mission to thwart women's health care, bodily autonomy, and economic stability. Case in point: Ivanka Ivanka Trump, whose pointless comments about paid leave in a Wall Street Journal editorial unabashedly and un-ironically championed a federal mandate for the practice this week. Her argument proved itself to be inane not because of its substance — she actually made some very good points about how crucial a paid leave mandate is — but because so many of her father's proposed policies would directly undercut any benefit, economic or otherwise, that paid leave would offer struggling working moms.
Trump penned the op-ed in response to a May piece by The Wall Street Journal editorial board that criticized her paid leave proposal as "The Ivanka Entitlement" and slammed it as a "disincentive for work." The mother of three was a primary architect of and advocate for the provision of President Donald Trump's request for six weeks of paid leave for moms and dads after the birth or adoption of a child as part of his 2018 budget proposal. And when Ivanka wrote in her rebuttal that the policy would "have an especially positive effect for women, who are far more likely than men to leave the workforce to provide unpaid care for a child," she was 100 percent correct. But how does one reconcile that with the Trump administration policy objectives that could devastate women and their families?
It's nearly impossible to do. Trump makes a compelling argument for a paid leave policy for new parents in the United States by sharing research-backed stats, such as the fact that moms who take paid leave are 39 percent less likely to require public assistance and more likely to still be working after one year. But that's a paltry consolation prize when the administration for which she works is focused on slashing Medicaid funding via the Republican health care bill currently awaiting a Senate vote, for example, as HuffPost's Emily Peck pointed out. This social safety net covers the cost of almost 50 percent of all births in the United States — an endeavor that can cost up to $10,000. "Paid leave is nice, but hardly would make up for the cost of giving birth without insurance," Peck wrote.
Another crucial tidbit from her piece? A report from the National Women's Law Center found that Medicaid insured 2.3 million working women between 2013 and 2015. If working women can no longer afford health care if they're booted off their Medicaid, how much can paid leave really help them economically? Why is Ivanka Trump so eager to promote a federal subsidy that would benefit women of all social classes, but silent when her father goes after another one that makes it possible for the poor to get the health care they need?
If Ivanka Trump really wants to help women in the United States, she needs to take a more inclusive approach. She should learn about all the ways that the Senate's proposed health care bill would devastate moms and soon-to-be moms, such as by eliminating maternity care as an essential health benefit and upping the cost to treat pregnancy complications. If she truly wants what's best for women, she'll speak out forcefully in support of Planned Parenthood, from which the bill would divert federal funds for at least one year.
When it comes to feminism and advocating for women, Ivanka Trump can't pick and choose. She needs to be all in — paid leave included, of course.