Patrick T. Brown

Fellow

Patrick T. Brown is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where his work with the Life and Family Initiative focuses on developing a robust pro-family economic agenda and supporting families as the cornerstone of a healthy and flourishing society.

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Patrick T. Brown is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where his work focuses on developing a robust pro-family economic agenda and supporting families as the cornerstone of a healthy and flourishing society.

His writing has been published in The New York Times, National Review, Politico, The Washington Post, and USA Today, and he has spoken on college campuses and Capitol Hill on topics from welfare reform to child care and education policy.

He has published reports on paid leave and family policy with the Institute for Family Studies, and edited an essay series featuring working-class voices for American Compass. He is an advisory board member of Humanity Forward and the Center on Child and Family Policy, and a contributing editor to Public Discourse.

Prior to joining EPPC, Patrick served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Congress’ Joint Economic Committee (JEC). There, he helped lead research about how to make it more affordable to raise a family and more effectively invest in youth and young adults. He also previously worked a government relations staffer for Catholic Charities USA.

Patrick graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in political science and economics. He also holds a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He and his wife Jessica have three young children and live in Columbia, S.C.

 

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Policy Brief: Exploring Parents’ Perspectives on Paid Leave

Patrick T. Brown

If an expansive paid leave package has proven politically infeasible, a more modest and tailored proposal may find more backers and a more promising pathway forward.

Articles

Empower Parents to Protect Their Kids from Social-Media Harms

Clare Morell

A law designed before even MySpace came on the scene is simply inadequate for the TikTok era.

Articles

National Review / February 24, 2022

Recent Research Debunks Myth That Economic Factors Are Driving Falling Birth Rates

Patrick T. Brown

Assuming would-be parents are opting out of having kids exclusively because of financial pressures misunderstands the dynamic at play.

Articles

Insitute for Family Studies / February 23, 2022

Opioids and the Unattached Male

Patrick T. Brown

Policymakers should understand that the drug-overdose crisis is a crisis of single men.

Articles

City Journal / January 18, 2022

The Limits of Mentorship

Patrick T. Brown

While the desirability of helping youth achieve their full potential is self-evident, even the best of intentions do not guarantee positive outcomes.

Articles

A New Approach to Mentorship for At-Risk Kids

Patrick T. Brown

The limits of the technocratic approach to improving the lives of poor or working-class children have become apparent.

Articles

Newsweek / January 5, 2022

Can Democrats Learn from Their Faith-Based Child Care Mistakes?

Patrick T. Brown

“Build Back Better” was not a unified approach to expanding parents’ choices.

Articles

Deseret News / December 27, 2021

Was the ‘She-cession’ Narrative Overblown?

Patrick T. Brown

If lawmakers want to expand public funding of child care or other safety-net expansions, they should argue for it on its merits, not as a response to the pandemic’s impact on the labor market.

Articles

Institute for Family Studies / December 9, 2021

In A Post-Roe World, States Can Find Common Ground in Supporting Moms

Patrick T. Brown

Conservative and progressive lawmakers and activists will always disagree about whether abortion should be legal. They can find common ground, however, in making abortion less seemingly necessary for moms in economic distress.

Articles

Newsweek / December 9, 2021

Wards of the State

Patrick T. Brown

The Build Back Better child-care plan would relegate religious providers to the margins.

Articles

City Journal / December 7, 2021

Loan Giveaways Won’t Boost Family Formation

Patrick T. Brown

Policymakers can improve options for parents without forgiving student debt.

Articles

City Journal / November 18, 2021

Thoughts on a Post-Roe Agenda

Patrick T. Brown

The pressure campaigns on religious freedom and voting bills would look like child’s play if a state moved to enact restrictions potentially enabled by Dobbs. Social conservatives need to prepare a counteroffensive.

Articles

Last year, as Congress debated the comprehensive social spending packaged dubbed “Build Back Better” (BBB), some observers thought that the United States was on the verge of a political paradigm shift with the nation’s first federal paid leave program. As the UCLA World Policy Center has pointed out, the U.S. is the only developed nation not to offer a federal guarantee of paid leave for new parents (though the Family and Medical Leave Act—FMLA—does provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for medical and caregiving situations, including childbirth and bonding.) 

But the political conditions were always shaky, and the Biden administration’s initial proposal of 12 weeks of paid family leave was nearly dropped from the bill altogether. Ultimately, a four-week guarantee passed the House. It was defined more expansively than paid parental leave alone; one estimate found that less than one-third of the benefits of the bill the proposal was based on would have gone to new parents. By the end of 2021, negotiations around the bill fell apart, which means that, at least for now, the status quo will hold. 

For paid leave advocates, this may be disappointing, but it should also provide a clarifying moment. If an expansive paid leave package has proven politically infeasible—or, at least, not politically appealing enough to secure passage—a more modest and tailored proposal may find more backers and a more promising pathway forward. 

There is no shortage of anecdotal voices of workers who have experienced varying degrees of paid leave, or lack thereof. But to know where the contours of public opinion lie, these individual stories must be read in conjunction with data on the public’s level of willingness to support different paid leave programs. 

This report seeks to identify parameters for a politically achievable paid leave proposal, using polling and interviews to illustrate what an approach to paid leave that puts parents first might look like. In particular, this report suggests the following elements might have appeal across the political spectrum: 

  • Streamlining administrative burdens, making any paid leave intuitive and easy to understand from the worker’s perspective
  • Expanding coverage, potentially making a parental benefit universal
  • Focusing solely on paid parental leave, leaving political battles over broader definitions of paid leave for another day, and
  • Providing the biggest benefits to new moms, acknowledging the wide-spread recognition that they bear the biggest physical, mental, and emotional burden in recovering after a new birth.

For example, a policy that provides six weeks of modest maternity benefits to mothers who have just given birth, and three weeks of benefits to fathers or adoptive parents, could offer some baseline of stability to families’ incomes around the time of childbirth while keeping the price tag low enough to appeal to voters across the political divide.

This report approaches the question of paid leave through the lens of ascertaining what sort of approach might most appeal to parents and voters. It is informed by interviews with parents who were willing to share individual stories spanning a variety of experiences with both paid and unpaid leave, but also relies on nationally representative polling data to develop insights into what approach might be most appealing to voters. 

The result points to an approach that will not be as comprehensive as progressive advocates might prefer and leaves out a variety of family and personal circumstances that some may desire. It also may require more government spending and intervention than traditional economic conservatives may find ideal. 

But a program that offers a tightly-defined purpose, and focuses on clear rules for eligibility and administrative legibility, could offer a compelling vision for how the state could meaningfully support families and avoid many of the political pitfalls a more expansive—and expensive—approach to paid leave has fallen into. 

Download the full policy brief here.

Patrick T. Brown (@PTBwrites) is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former senior Republican staffer on Capitol Hill.