Heritage Expert’s Exchange with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Draws Attention to Paid Family Leave Policy


Heritage Expert’s Exchange with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Draws Attention to Paid Family Leave Policy

Dec 12, 2019

Heritage Foundation policy expert Rachel Greszler testified before Congress on Dec. 10 on why government-mandated paid family leave programs would not meet the needs of workers and employers better than the private sector. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s questioning of Greszler during the testimony raised eyebrows and generated media attention from major news outlets.

"Do we know how long puppies are allowed to stay with their mothers after a dog has given birth?" Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., asked during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing.

"Uh, eight weeks," said Ocasio-Cortez “So, the market has decided that women and people who give birth deserve less time with their children than a dog.”


Greszler, a research fellow in Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, is a leading expert on paid family leave.

“As a woman who has given birth to six children, I find being compared to a breeding dog with puppies incredibly offensive. What AOC failed to point out is the reason many states require puppies to spend at least eight weeks with their mothers is in the context of them being sold to people after that period," Greszler told Fox News after the hearing.


The exchange lead to dozens of print headlines and broadcast packages from ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX news affiliates on stations across the country.

“While paid family leave has many benefits, it is not without cost or consequence for workers, for employers, for consumers, and for the entire economy,” said Greszler in her testimony. “A government program cannot erase those costs—It can only redistribute them.”

Greszler went on to explain how government-run programs across the globe consistently redistribute money from lower-income families to middle- and upper-income ones. “When considering the government’s role in paid family leave, it is crucial that policymakers take the time to truly think through how the types of programs they are considering will affect individuals and families across all walks of life.”

Greszler also attended the White House’s Summit on Paid Family Leave last week and replied to Ocasio-Cortez in a commentary for The Daily Signal, “No, AOC, Dogs Don’t Have More Time With Their Children Than Women.

This exchange is Heritage’s second tangle with Ocasio-Cortez in just one week. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the Trump administration’s new food stamp rule would have caused her family to starve. Heritage responded on Twitter, pointing out that Trump’s rule would have excluded her family because it does not apply to parents with minor children, the elderly, or disabled people. The exchange, generated coverage on Fox News, Newsmax, Townhall, The Blaze, and more.