After benefiting substantially from the Internal Revenue Service’s maternity-leave policy, presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann voted twice (in 2008 and in 2009) against measures that would provide four weeks of paid parental leave to all federal employees. The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza explains in his new profile of the congresswoman:
“Two of Bachmann’s five children were born while she worked for the I.R.S., and all six former colleagues said that the primary fact they remembered about Bachmann was that she spent a good portion of her time on maternity leave — the I.R.S. had a fairly generous policy — and that caused resentment.
“Basically, the rest of us that were here were handling Michele’s inventory,” one former colleague said. “In her four years, she probably didn’t get more than two, two and a half years of experience. So she was doing lightweight stuff.” A second colleague said, “She was an attorney here, but she was never here.” (Bachmann declined a request to respond.)”
According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, all IRS full-time employees receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child, and Bachmann could afford to take the unpaid time off, given that her husband brought in a second income through his clinical practice.
Most of the other 2.7 million federal employees aren’t so fortunate, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said, explaining why he co-sponsored the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act. Yet when the act reached a vote in the U.S. House in both 2008 and 2009, Bachmann opposed it both times.
GOP lawmakers — including Bachmann — criticized the measure as an increase in spending. According to the Congressional Budget Office, however, the act would have cost the American taxpayer less than $1 in 2010.
For someone who “believes in the vitality of the family” and has pledged to defend America’s family values, Bachmann has not taken a stand to defend the families of federal employees who cannot afford unpaid parental leave.