Paid family leave: A discussion with Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA)



Event Summary

On Wednesday, in a discussion moderated by AEI’s Aparna Mathur, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) outlined his ideas on shaping a path forward on paid family leave. He announced that he is co-leading a bipartisan bill with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Sen. Cassidy talked about the recent Republican and conservative support for this issue, emphasizing his desire to support the family unit and economic opportunities of all. Drawing on his experiences in the medical and policy fields, he also highlighted that a federal paid family leave policy should address the needs of working-class and low-income families.

Following Sen. Cassidy’s remarks, a group of expert panelists, including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Harry Holzer, Isabel Sawhill, and Jane Waldfogel, commented on the matter. The discussion covered a wide variety of topics, including the need to reform the Social Security Disability Insurance system, paid leave for caregiving and medical needs, and the pros and cons of current state paid leave policies.

— Erin Melly

Event Description

Momentum around paid family leave policies is building in the United States, with several states and employers experimenting with different approaches. But what would be an appropriate federal framework for a paid family leave plan?

Join AEI for a discussion with Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), who will outline his ideas and thoughts on a path forward to provide working-class Americans with paid family leave. After a moderated discussion with Sen. Cassidy, a panel of experts will analyze current paid family leave proposals at the state and federal level and discuss optimal frameworks for a possible federal plan.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.



8:45 AM

9:00 AM
Aparna Mathur, AEI

9:05 AM
Bill Cassidy, M.D., US Senate (R-LA)
Aparna Mathur, AEI

9:20 AM

9:30 AM
Panel discussion

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, American Action Forum
Harry Holzer, Georgetown University
Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution
Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University

Aparna Mathur, AEI

10:15 AM

10:30 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Erin Melly at [email protected], 202.419.5204.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Bill Cassidy is the United States senator for Louisiana. He attended Louisiana State University (LSU) for undergraduate and medical school. In 1990, he joined LSU Medical School teaching medical students and residents at Earl K. Long Hospital, a hospital for the uninsured. During this time, he cofounded the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic, a clinic providing free dental and health care to the working uninsured. Dr. Cassidy also created a private-public partnership to vaccinate 36,000 greater Baton Rouge–area children against Hepatitis B at no cost to the schools or parents. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he led a group of health care volunteers to convert an abandoned Kmart building into an emergency health care facility, providing basic health care to hurricane evacuees. In 2006, Dr. Cassidy was elected to the Louisiana State Senate. In 2008, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives to represent Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District. In 2014, he was elected to the US Senate. He serves on the Finance Committee; the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; and the Veterans Affairs Committee.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin has a distinguished record as an academic, policy adviser, and strategist. Currently he is the president of the American Action Forum. During 2001–02, he was the chief economist of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), where he had also served during 1989–90 as a senior staff economist. At CEA he helped formulate policies addressing the 2000–01 recession and the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. From 2003 to 2005, he was the sixth director of the Congressional Budget Office. During 2007 and 2008, he was director of domestic and economic policy for the John McCain presidential campaign. Since then he has been a commissioner on the congressionally chartered Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and serves as an outside adviser to the US Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Holtz-Eakin has an international reputation as a scholar doing research in applied economic policy, econometric methods, and entrepreneurship. He began his career at Columbia University in 1985 and moved to Syracuse University from 1990 to 2001. At Syracuse, he was trustee professor of economics at the Maxwell School, chairman of the Department of Economics, and associate director of the Center for Policy Research.

Harry Holzer is the John LaFarge SJ Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University and an institute fellow at the American Institutes for Research. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a research affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, an affiliated scholar with the Urban Institute, and a member of the editorial board at the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. He is a former chief economist for the US Department of Labor and a former professor of economics at Michigan State University. Dr. Holzer has authored or edited 12 books and several dozen journal articles, mostly on disadvantaged American workers and their employers, as well as on education and workforce issues and labor market policy. He received a B.A. from Harvard in 1978 and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard in 1983.

Aparna Mathur is a resident scholar in economic policy studies at AEI. At AEI, her research has focused on income inequality and mobility, tax policy, labor markets, and small businesses. She has published in several top scholarly journals, testified several times before Congress, and published numerous articles in the popular press on issues of policy relevance. Her work has been cited in academic journals and leading news magazines, as well as by government organizations in various congressional reports. She has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Public Policy and has taught economics at the University of Maryland. She received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2005.

Isabel Sawhill is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution. She served as vice president and director of the economic studies program from 2003 to 2006. She is a codirector with Ron Haskins of the Center on Children and Families. Before joining Brookings, Dr. Sawhill was a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. She served in the Bill Clinton administration as an associate director of the Office of Management and Budget, where her responsibilities included all the human resource programs of the federal government, accounting for one-third of the federal budget. Her research has spanned a wide array of economic and social issues, including fiscal policy, economic growth, poverty, and inequality. Over the past decade, her major focus has been on how to improve opportunities for disadvantaged children in the US. Dr. Sawhill helped found the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and serves as the president of its board. She has been a visiting professor at Georgetown Law School, director of the National Commission for Employment Policy, and president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. She also serves on several boards. She was a recipient of the Exemplar Award from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (2014) and, with Ron Haskins, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize from the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2016). She was named a distinguished fellow by the American Economic Association in 2016.

Jane Waldfogel is the Compton Foundation Centennial Professor for the Prevention of Children’s and Youth Problems at the Columbia University School of Social Work and codirector of the Columbia Population Research Center. She is also a visiting professor at the London School of Economics. She has written extensively on the impact of public policies on poverty, inequality, and child and family well-being, including several books, the most recent of which is titled “Too Many Children Left Behind: The U.S. Achievement Gap in Comparative Perspective” (Russell Sage Foundation, 2015). Her current research includes studies of poverty and social policy, work-family policies such as paid family and medical leave, and inequality in child development and achievement. Dr. Waldfogel received a Ph.D. in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School in 1994.

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