Newly-elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) came under fire for accepting the position under the condition that he be able to spend time with his family, while also opposing a federal paid family leave policy. When he appeared on CBS' Face The Nation and ABC's This Week, both interviewers neglected to ask Ryan about his opposition to paid family leave policies, which benefit employees, employers, and the economy.
On October 20, Paul Ryan announced that he would run for Speaker of the House as long as a number of conditions were met, one being that he would not “give up [his] family” for traditional requirements of the job, such as “spending hundreds of days on the road raising money for Republican candidates.” After Ryan's announcement, Politico noted that “when it comes to federal policies on family leave, Ryan has opposed virtually every measure proposed over the past several years.”
Since announcing his candidacy for Speaker of the House, Ryan has been widely criticized for his hypocrisy on family leave. EMILY's List asserted that Ryan is “totally in favor of family-friendly workplace policies for Speakers of the House named Paul Ryan.” Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, issued a statement criticizing Ryan for having “refused to sign on to two bills that would provide Americans time to care for a loved one during a routine or even a serious illness, namely, the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act. When Rep. Ryan had the opportunity to vote for paid time for federal employees to bond with a new child, he voted no - twice.” Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project told Politico “Paul Ryan is rightly concerned about his job's impact on his spouse and children ... yet [he] isn't willing to guarantee that all workers ... have the necessary tools to balance their work and family obligations.”
Ryan made the rounds on the November 1 Sunday talk shows the week after the Speaker election. Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday, and State of the Union asked Ryan about his opposition to federal paid family leave legislation, noting his condition that he not give up his own family time. However, ABC's Martha Raddatz and CBS' John Dickerson of This Week and Face the Nation, respectively, neglected to question Ryan's hypocrisy, even as Raddatz mentioned his family as part of his hesitation to take on the job, and Dickerson asked Ryan what he told his children about the new position.
Paid family leave was brought up earlier this year in President Obama's State of the Union address. Economists have found that increasing paid parental leave could incentivize more women to join and remain in the labor force, boost the economy, increase wages, and keep families out of poverty and reduce their reliance on public assistance.