INDIANOLA, Iowa — Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders highlighted his support Sunday for a plan to provide three months of paid leave after a family has a child and challenged Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to embrace the same legislation.
Clinton has spoken out strongly in favor of providing workers with paid family leave but also stressed her commitment in recent days to not raising taxes on the middle class to pay for new initiatives.
The plan backed by Sanders, a senator from Vermont, would be paid for with an increase in the payroll tax that would cost the average worker about $72 a year.
"You think that we can afford $1.39 per week?" Sanders asked a crowd of more than 400 people, composed largely of college students, gathered for a town hall meeting here the day after the second Democratic presidential debate. “It is unconscionable that millions of new parents in this country are forced back to work because they don’t have the income to stay home with their newborn babies.”
[Clinton and Sanders are divided over a big Obama promise: Not raising taxes on the middle class]
Clinton has pledged not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000, a point of contrast with her Democratic rivals that she highlighted during Saturday night's debate and again on Sunday.
"The super wealthy and corporations need to pay more, not you," Clinton told a crowd of central Iowa Democrats at a barbecue lunch on Sunday afternoon in Ames. "That is a defining difference in this primary."
Sanders has proposed an array of other costly plans, including an expansion of Social Security and free public college tuition, that would be paid for with tax increases on high-income earners and corporations.