The Numbers and The Paycheck. The “mean number of income earners in American households” stands at 1.29. [Census] The number obviously indicates that more than one member in each household is working. Since we have some 38,314,542 two member households in which 13,407,685 are both working, and 18,105,479 three person households in which at least 7,179,245 have two workers (along with another 2,085,581 in which all three are working), we can assume that most family incomes are derived from both parents working outside the home. A 2002 analysis of data from the 2000 census reported that “traditional” households in which only the husband was in the work force constituted only 7% of the total. [PRB.org]
Making a rather bad situation worse, the incomes haven’t really increased for most Americans, as the LA Times reported in 2010:
“Over the last 10 years, financial managers enjoyed the largest occupational gains in income. Their average annual salary climbed from $96,302 to $112,632. At the same time, the wages of their executive secretaries and administrative assistants actually fell, from $45,058 to $44,075. Retail sales clerks, janitors, preschool teachers and medical assistants also experienced declining annual incomes.”
Executive secretaries, administrative assistants, retail sales personnel, teachers, medical assistants…all jobs in which large numbers of women are hired. Thus we might assume that Round One in the War on Women came in the form of lower earning power as wealth was siphoned off from the middle class toward the top 0.5% of the nation’s income earners.
And, as if things couldn’t take a further turn for the worse, there is still the gender disparity gap between men’s and women’s wages in the American economy.
The picture is now exceedingly unpleasant, more families rely on dual incomes to sustain their economic position, while more wealth “trickles up” to the top 0.5%, and the income for women who contribute to the total household income is still less than that of their male counterparts.
One measure that addresses the last salvo in the GOP’s War on Women is the Lily Ledbetter Act, which Republican senatorial candidate Peter Hoekstra (MI) finds distasteful:
Former Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra, who is now running to unseat Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), weighed in on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on Thursday, saying the law was a “nuisance” that shouldn’t be in place. [HuffingtonPost]
Shorter version: Please pay attention to Our Manufactured Outrage Moment over Hillary Rosen’s failure to include “outside the home” in her comments about Ann Romney’s employment and please ignore the Republican policies which encourage the growth of the Financialist Class to the detriment of middle income families, and its attacks on legislation to insure equal pay for equal work, including Wisconsin’s Governor Walker’s repeal of the state’s equal pay act on April 9th.
Slicing Up The Safety Net. That “debt ceiling agreement” required because the Congressional Republicans suddenly discovered the Amazing American Debt (generally ignored from 2001 to 2009) and imposed restrictions on programs of primary interest to women. Remember when we read:
“If approved by both houses of Congress, the agreement will impose $1 trillion in cuts to programs such as family planning clinics, food stamps, college tuition assistance, child care and a host of other programs that disproportionately serve and employ women.” [NOW]
It gets worse in the Ryan Budget. First, the Ryan Budget is especially vague about some major the cuts:
At least $291 billion in cuts in low-income discretionary programs. Bear in mind that these cuts are on top of the cuts already enacted as a result of the discretionary caps created by the Budget Control Act. The Ryan budget documents released on March 20 show the plan contains $1.2 trillion in cuts in nondefense discretionary programs beyond the cuts needed to comply with the caps, but do not provide details about the cuts to specific programs. [CBPP pdf] (emphasis added)
It doesn’t take too much imagination to fill in the blanks with child care, Headstart, Pell Grants, energy savings and conservation programs, SNAP funding, and other programs for low and moderate income American families.
If you’re Wealthy You Can Be Healthy. If not, well there’s a problem because the Republican controlled House voted to suspend any funding for Planned Parenthood — which doles out 3% of its funding for abortions (of the safe and legal variety) and spends the other 97% on women’s health care services and family planning. [Politico] Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) was pleased to vote in favor of this defunding on February 18, 2011. [roll call 93]
California Representative Mike Honda added:
“Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will be debilitating to women and families who rely on these programs to afford preventive and reproductive health services. This is no time to gouge a gaping hole in social safety nets that protect these communities from falling into poverty and poor health….If Republicans were listening to their leaders, they would be proposing an expansion of this critical program, not attacking it. [Care2]
For those who mused that the contraception arguments had been laid to rest forty years ago, the Republican War On Women resurrected the issue. The Guttmacher Institute reports: “Among the 17.4 million women in need of publicly funded contraceptive care, 71% (12.4 million) were poor or low-income adults, and 29% (5 million) were younger than 20. Four in 10 poor women of reproductive age have no insurance coverage whatsoever.” Nor did the Republicans appear particularly aware of this nugget from the Guttmacher Study: “88%, take OCPs for noncontraceptive purposes,most commonly menstrual regulation (46%) and menstrual pain (40%). (pdf)
And, where might low to moderate income women seek medical assistance with such “non-contraceptive services?” How about a Title X clinic. We can guess how those clinics would fare under Ryan Budget 2.0 because they were eliminated in previous Republican actions. [LSN] [Huffington Post] Unless there is a major shaking of Governor Romney’s EtchASketch he’s on record favoring the elimination of Title X funding. [TDB]
“In the first three months of 2012, legislators in 45 of the 46 legislatures that have convened this year introduced 944 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Half of these provisions would restrict abortion access. So far, 75 abortion restrictions have been approved by at least one legislative chamber, and nine have been enacted. This is below the record-breaking pace of 2011, when 127 abortion restrictions had been approved by at least one body in the first quarter of the year, but still higher than usual for an election year. In 2010, for example, only 46 such restrictions had passed at least one house during the first quarter, while in 2008, only 34 had passed one chamber by that point.” [Guttmacher]