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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Obama Can Thank Women Voters By Supporting Real Economic Equality

Obama Can Thank Women Voters By Supporting Real Economic Equality

As part of the series “A Rooseveltian Second-Term Agenda,” a way to recognize the economic needs of the women who helped re-elect President Obama.

Both candidates spent a lot of time and energy courting women’s votes in this election cycle. But as predicted, the gender gap yawned on Election Day and pushed Obama to victory with a 10-point chasm between him and Mitt Romney. How can President Obama thank the women who voted for him as he starts shaping the agenda for his second term? There are a variety of general economic policies that will benefit everyone, including women, such as spending federal stimulus money to kick-start a sluggish economy, ensuring the jobs being created in the recovery pay enough to support workers and their families, and bolstering a failing safety net to support the most vulnerable among us.

But while women hold down half of the jobs in our economy, they still face unique challenges and obstacles to full economic equality. If President Obama cares about women’s economic welfare as much Candidate Obama indicated, there are some important issues he can take on in the next four years.

—Truly equal pay for equal work: President Obama often talks about the fact that the first bill he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps address the gender wage gap. The act gives women more time to file a claim alleging discrimination since the truth may take a long time to surface. But while the act gets talked about like a panacea, it’s far from it. The number of pay discrimination complaints filed with the EEOC fell since the signing of the act, while the pay gap widened. This is because the gap is caused by a complex array of factors: occupational segregation, hostile courts, and plain old discrimination. A first step to supplement the Lilly Ledbetter Act would be prohibiting salary secrecy, forcing employers to allow employees to talk about their pay with each other, something half of all workers cannot currently do. It will be next to impossible for women to address discrimination if they don’t even know it’s happening. But we also have to talk about how to move women into non-traditional fields, appoint judges to the courts that will stand by women when they sue for discrimination, and raise pay for the service sector jobs that women already dominate. These are large issues, but without putting them on the agenda they’ll continue to hamper women’s equality.

—Paid time off to care for family: We are one of just three countries among 178 that doesn’t guarantee any paid maternity leave benefits. Fifty countries go further to offer leave for fathers. Among the 15 most competitive nations, we’re the only one that doesn’t have a paid sick days policy. The reality is that the work of caring for children—when they’re very young, sick, or not in school—still falls mostly to women. Yet they can still lose their jobs when they need to miss work for this important caretaking. And without offering paid benefits, we force many women to take on debt or go hat in hand to loved ones and friends to get through. Not only will paid family leave benefit women, it will benefit men and help to change the care-work equation. Men are more likely to take time off to be with a new child if the leave is paid—unsurprisingly, since families have such a hard time financing the lost income. And when men do take leave, they become more involved in their children’s lives. Universally, paid leave policies improve quality of life for all workers while leveling the playing field for women.

—Significant support for childcare: There are two sides to childcare. On one are those who need help caring for family and as mentioned above, they are almost entirely women. On the other are the caregivers, also almost entirely women. Our support for childcare is pretty dismal and getting worse. The cost of putting two children in center care exceeds median rent in all 50 states. At the same time, the majority of states have pulled back on childcare assistance for two years in a row. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit that gives parents who are paying for childcare a tax break has only increased once in the last 28 years. The government needs to invest heavily in supporting working parents, men and women alike, with skyrocketing childcare costs, allowing all who can and want to go to work to leave their children with quality caretakers. This is also a way to begin ensuring that these caretakers are well paid. In a national survey of in-home childcare providers, the most common answer to how much they make in a week is $500, or $26,000 a year—a pitiful amount, not to mention that many don’t receive any benefits. Given how much families struggle with the cost and how many domestic workers don’t make enough to live on, the government must step in.

American women have flooded the labor market in the last half-century. But our economy and society haven’t changed enough to meet them halfway. President Obama won’t be able to fix all of these problems in his second term. But he can begin to address them and put a spotlight on these societal problems that we still think of as private concerns. I’m sure women voters would be grateful.

Bryce Covert is Editor of Next New Deal.

Cross-posted from The Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog

The Roosevelt Institute is a nonprofit organization devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Photo credit: AP/Susan Walsh

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36 responses to “Obama Can Thank Women Voters By Supporting Real Economic Equality”

  1. We should take massive steps to care for others, to give these benefits.


    Because the mindset that allowing employers to not do so creates leads to the Koch Brothers and the elite trying to literally buy this nation out from under us.

    • 13observer says:

      Obama bought the latino votes with the promise of AMNESTY! What is the difference?

    • It Was My Goal To Vote For Our POTUS Get Him 4 More Years And Get Rid Of Romney Lying Shape Shifter Ass!!!

    • ExMarine says:

      Yes, they and others spent millions and while money talks, people don’t listen to lying money talking and that’s what the Koch brothers did. Are they now in the same position as THE DONALD, a caricature of themselves? I honestly believe that history will judge President Obama to be one of the most influential presidents we have ever had. They often say that great men appear when they are need most, such as President Lincoln. I think this is one of those times. With the recession, the Middle East, and our own dysfunctional congress, he has his work cut our for him. Go Barak, I’m pulling for you.

      • ceverettham says:

        If you were a real Marine you would know that there are no ex marines only former marines. As far as your comment goes you are correct, we will never forget what this president has done to America.

    Investments in our future
    Middle Class Growth over ultra rich
    Place a Public Option in Obamacare
    Finance campaigns and elections—no $$$$–a law a fed employee can accept nothing
    with a financial value—Short term campaigns like six month-3 primary 3 general—debate a week=12=Adequate to evaluate candidates—Any Mitt can make a fool of himself in three months
    Balance the budget with a 35% effective tax on top10%–Stop patrolling the world—spend our money at home—Increase minimum wage—Jobs highest priority—De-monopolize too big banks—Return banking to like S&L—400 local owners—Use wealth locally not overseas.–Repeal Repeal of Glass Steagall. Tariff on foreign goods. Return more equality to America via Tax Code.

  3. What about the males who voted for him?

    • BDD1951 says:

      They were smart. They care about their women.

      • Staggslaw says:

        Yes, and the children and the elders, everyone of every color, even the rich, the real 100%. We don’t ask for anything but good government. You’d think we’re the devil, but we’re actually the second largest voting block of the Democratic coalition, without whom we could not win. We’re the other white males.

        • robert says:

          Robert: We see already the Democrats are at work raising your taxes.
          They need the new tax money for the Health care Law,the 16 Trillion debt .
          Yet thie Administration have yet to own up that 40 major banks in our nation have not paid Federal or State income taxes for the past four years.
          I guess you suffer from the mental disorder (Democrats) you would be blaming Bush for not collecting Federal and State Taxes from the banks Obama gave taxpayers money to.

          • Staggslaw says:

            All you Cons have are insults and cons, which is why you’ll remain the minority for at least a generation. Happy days are here again. It was Bush who gave the banks trillions without any strings. It was Bush who got rid of the Clinton tax rates, which were primarily responsible for creating 24 million jobs, balancing the budget, and creating a surplus. We won, get over it, but people in a panic never do, they strike out like a rattle snake. Know what? Sometimes rattle snakes in a panic bite themselves.

          • Robert,
            President Obama is on record opposing raising taxes for 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses. What he is suggesting, to help reduce our budget deficits and subsequent accumulation of debt is increase the tax rate of those earning over $250K to Bill Clinton era levels, when all segments of our population prospered.
            The bank bailout was proposed, drafter and signed by former President Bush on 10/3/2008, before President Obama was inaugurated. If you have a problem with taxpayers monies being used to bailout the banks, you should at least make an effort to find out who did it.
            The only new expenditure that President Obama can be blamed for is the stimulus package. Everything else was either the result of the Great Recession that began in late 2007, or programmatic.
            I’ll take the Democratic “disease” any time over ignorance.

    • frida says:

      Men understand very well, the burden for women are automatically theirs. If the President thanks all women, he thanks the whole family including men. For those who are single, his thanks go straight to them.

  4. commserver says:

    I think that it is a shame that there isn’t pay. The glass ceiling exists.

  5. montanabill says:

    Equal unemployment for all.

  6. Melvin Chatman says:

    The President has grown a “SPINE” – don’t come downstairs without it!

  7. robert says:

    Robert: I have been told that Sandra Fluke the spokesperson for Obama and Women was to receive a position in the White House .The plot gets thicker .The minnions that run the government are the liberals who want womens birth control medeicine pick up by the the government.By the way who can tell me what the cost to attend Columbia University Law School?

    • johninPCFL says:

      Bullshit. If the insurance policy you pay for covers MEDICATION it should cover birth control medications. See the connection? You should be able to GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR without the company you work for picking and choosing for you.

  8. Mr president I help you carry Neveda. If you do not what you said you would do I will be leading the charge on your impeachment. I would like to see that war surplus you keep talking about. I look at all the lies that you told and Mitt told you told less than Mitt and because I could never understand any of his plans I went with you. I work with OFA 7 days a week sometime night and day.

  9. old_blu says:

    This old man would also like to thank all the women voters for getting Obama back in.

    Thank You!

  10. gargray says:

    There is a lot of work to do on women’s rights. They need to come out of the shadow and fight.

  11. Plznnn says:

    Obama can give women FREE birth control and other favors from the taxes of others. He can redistribute more of other people’s wealth.

    • johninPCFL says:

      Idiot. When you pay for an insurance police that covers MEDICATIONS it should cover birth control. When you pay for an insurance policy that covers SURGERY it should cover legal abortion.

  12. JOEL K says:

    I support full pay for full work regardless to gender.
    Now may be a time for a change for men. Until now men, I served in Vietnam in the infantry, have done about 99% of the dying in combat and 99.9% of the killing in combat that women will step into combat to do the equal dying and killing for equal liberity and freedom.
    Where is Obama with Israel today? Where is Obama with Benghazi? Where is the truth?
    I have been married for 44 years to my special gal.

  13. I am sure the President is very much aware of woman’s issues. He is surrounded by women. Ulick Romney with his five cowered son and his cowed wife.
    This President is the best friend woman and the LGBT community have ever had in the White house

  14. dtgraham says:

    Some of the problem is how the United States Constitution, and the concept of freedom itself, is being interpreted and promoted by the conservative media. We look at the U.S. being alone in a rogues gallery of Papua New Guinea and Swaziland, in terms of parental leave, and are appalled. Republicans look at it and say that means more freedom (more money for employers anyway) and lower taxes (somehow). They say it’s part of American exceptionalism and what sets America apart, in a good way. Such a huge gap between the left and right on even the most fundamental values.

    During Ed Schultz’s free medical clinic shows he had Ron Paul on one time. There were plenty of people there with horrific conditions who were unable to afford care, prior. The panel that night didn’t think the scene below said too much about America. However, when asked the same question, Paul thought that all of this exemplified the greatness of America. He went on to blather something about the constitution, freedom, and charity.

    Maybe so, but what Paul failed to recognize is that for individual rights to be meaningful, they must be accompanied by the presence of sufficient basic security to enable a person to enjoy those individual rights and civil liberties. To talk about freedom to a suffering person who can’t access health care is to talk about something that is very insubstantial.

    There is a paragraph in the preamble of the United States Constitution that deals with “to promote the general welfare”. To combat the constitutional literalists and originalists of the political right, I think progressives should seize and hold onto that sentence like grim death. Promote it.

  15. Ayaya Worenwu says:

    First, Obama should have a thank you meeting with who is who conference for women. Then get more of their motherly opinions for present day America. Women have lots of good ideas for America.

  16. James says:

    Shouldn’t the White lead by example and give the female staffers the same pay as them male staffers. It is a known fact that the male staffers earn 18 % more than the females. hippocracy at it’s finest.

  17. joyscarbo says:

    I would like to see my daughter have the same opportunity to better her life as a single mother the same way I did back in the 1990’s.
    I was exactly in her her position- two children and alone with no education to get a job that would support my two children and myself. I went back to school full time for 5 years and got my bachelors degree in nursing and I instantly went from making minimum wage to $20 per hour in 1990. I took out student loans, got Pell grants and scholarships. But I also got to use public assistance and medicaid for excatly what it was intended- a hand up, not a hand out. There were also programs through DSHS for single moms going to school. They paid for my daycare for my kids and helped with the cost of books and labs. The government was key in my successfully being able to financially support my family since 1995.
    Now, my daughter is struggling with my two beautiful grandaughters. She lives in Mississippi. Her schmuck husband doesn’t have a job and isn’t contributing to the kid’s support. She wants to go back to school to become a mortician but the programs aren’t there. How will she pay for daycare? How can she afford housing? How about tuition? Medicaid took care of me and my boy’s healthcare. In Mississippi, they don’t provide healthcare to my daughter- only the two kids and it’s crappy care at that. We need more of these programs to hep our single moms.

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