And how will states afford this magnanimity? Easily, says Clinton: They will take advantage of the booming economy and bulging payroll tax coffers to shift funding to the parental leave program from money set aside for temporary unemployment benefits. If the money comes through and states resist the urge to balk at Clinton's decree, this proposal has a lot going for it. "This is great news for anyone who's part of a family or plans to start one," says TIME contributor Amy Dickinson. "A lot of very important emotional work between a child and its parents takes place very early on." And a financial boost like this, Dickinson adds, would allow an oft-sidelined player back into the game: "Dads will be more involved with their babies, and that's good for everyone."
Having a baby has always been an expensive proposition, and this cold, hard truth has kept many new parents from taking advantage of the existing parental leave time, which is often unpaid. Now the White House is hoping to ease the financial strain brought on by the first few months of parenthood and sweeten the prospect of staying home with a baby. The proposal would provide state subsidies to new parents, who would collect at least part of their salaries while taking time off to care for a newborn or an adopted child. President Clinton's plan, which is essentially a bulked-up version of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, would leave the particulars of payments and time limits to the states.