Most people assumed that the churlish attacks from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) on Bill Clinton were just a way for the junior senator from Kentucky to try to intimidate Hillary Clinton into not running in 2016. But its clear now that he had a more immediate goal in mind.
The former president is heading to Kentucky to campaign for Alison Lundergan Grimes. Clinton is the last Democrat to win the state in a presidential election and encouraged the Grimes campaign even before she announced her intention to win the Senate seat held by Mitch McConnell (R-KY) since the 1980s.
Grimes, the Bluegrass State’s current secretary of state, leads McConnell by four points in the most recent poll, and Clinton will help her make a dent in the Senate Minority Leader’s prodigious fundraising advantage.
Senator Paul has aligned himself with his leader after McConnell first opposed the Tea Partier’s Senate bid, in what seems like a pretty basic marriage of convenience. Paul helps McConnell keep his job, then McConnell provides establishment support for the former optometrist’s 2016 bid for president.
However, Paul has been unwilling to go on the attack against McConnell’s Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin, who is trailing by a substantial margin anyway. Nipping at Clinton’s leg raises Paul’s 2016 profile and helps McConnell against his real threat, points out Louisville-based reporter Joe Sonka.
But Paul’s attempt to label one of the most popular politicians in America a “predator” is not only decades old, it also forces the spotlight on Paul’s record when it comes to women’s rights.
Here are five examples of how Rand Paul’s concern for women doesn’t show up in his policies.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Violence Against Women Act
Senator Paul voted against the Violence Against Women Act, which helped decrease intimate partner violence by two-thirds in the first decade and half it was in effect, claiming that he didn’t want to borrow money from China to pay the bill — as it’s not something important, like tax cuts for the rich.
He laid out his reasoning against the bill further “in a letter last year to a leader of The Fatherhood Coalition, one of the organizations of the ‘Men’s Rights Activist’ movement, perhaps the most the wretched hive of scum and misogyny you’ll find in America,” in the words of Joe Sonka. The reasoning boils down to “charities should be doing this,” neglecting to note that no charities did so before the 1994 bill became law. And VAWA’s transformation of how law enforcement approaches crimes against women continues to save lives.
Paul wants to repeal Obamacare, even though his state exchange has enrolled over 240,000 people and cut its uninsured population by a third in mere months. This would allow insurers to treat being a woman as a pre-existing condition again, and end the birth control mandate, which has helped bring abortions to a new low. He would also like to end Medicare as we know it, immediately.
But the senator’s most devastating health care policy would be what he wants to do to Medicaid. Paul would change the way the program is funded to block grants and cut the amount paid to states even more than the draconian cuts Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) proposed.
Women make up two-thirds of Medicaid beneficiaries and the program is one of the largest payers of pregnancy-related services, covering 60 percent of births in some states. Paul’s cuts would likely leave millions of them without a crucial lifeline.
Who should decide what kind of health care a women gets? Paul thinks it should be her boss.
The senator supported the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed employers to deny any health care service for “moral reasons.”
That’s not the only way he’d like to make it harder for women to get birth control. Paul has also said he would like to completely defund Planned Parenthood, even though 90 percent of the services it provides are directly related to prevention and wellness and no federal funding goes toward abortions. Texas has done exactly this. “Nearly half of…women said they couldn’t access birth control in the three months before they got pregnant,” Mother Jones’ Jaeah Lee reported.
Photo: WeNews via Flickr
Women ‘Won’ The War On Women
Paul’s rants against President Clinton were preceded by his bizarre response to a question about whether Mike Huckabee’s comments about “Uncle Sugar” and women’s libidos were “helpful”:
This whole sort of war on women thing, I’m scratching my head because if there was a war on women, I think they won. You know, the women in my family are incredibly successful. I have a niece at Cornell vet school, and 85 percent of the young people there are women. In law school, 60 percent are women; in med school, 55 percent.
First, his stats were off.
“Rand Paul was wrong when he said that 60 percent of law students and 55 percent of medical students are women,” FactCheck.org reported. “The share of female students at law and medical schools in the United States is 47 percent each and hasn’t varied much in 10 years.”
Also off was the gist of what he was saying.
While women have made leaps in society in the less than a century they’ve had the vote, they still represent only 20 percent of the Senate and 18.5 percent of the House, despite making up more than 50 percent of the population.
“Though women ask for promotions and raises, they are given less compared to their male co-workers,” ThinkProgress‘ Annie-Rose Strasser wrote. “Women are more likely to be asked for favors but less appreciated when they do them because people feel ‘entitled to female help.’ Men out-earn their female counterparts by 33 cents on the dollar nationally.”
On the most basic level, more than a million women are victims of domestic violence every year. An estimated 600 women report being raped every day. And that’s only what’s reported.
Screenshot via The Rush Limbaugh Show
The End Of A Woman’s Right To Choose
Rand Paul is a libertarian. But like his father, he believes in “personhood,” meaning that once a woman’s egg is fertilized, her liberty goes bye-bye. His opposition to abortion rights even in cases of rape and incest, along with his desire to overturn Roe v. Wade, puts him in the minority of Americans who want to completely erase a woman’s right to choose.
Since we know that in countries where abortion is illegal, it is actually more common, Paul’s fringe beliefs on reproductive rights would simply lead to back-alley procedures that threaten women’s lives and their ability to conceive later.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr