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Posted by on Jul 18, 2011 in At TMV | 17 comments

Obama to Women: You’re on Your Own

WASHINGTON – Are you feeling set up? Or is it snubbed? The incomprehensible motion of the shrug that Democrats are no longer interested? Pres. Obama has made it clear by serving up entitlements, while getting no compromise from Republicans, that women no longer have a friend in the Democratic party. Republicans never have been interested in our issues, with even their new class of female political wannabes callous to the numbers, picking ideology over people, over women. Now Pres. Obama has decided Democratic principles that keep women of a certain age out of poverty, willingly, almost triumphantly, should be compromised, all on the wings of a “balanced approach.” Where women are concerned it’s anything but.

Listen up, sisters! Deficit hawks will eat your lunch, your kids, your jobs and your retirement. An economy without a deficit is like a fish without water. Reducing the U.S. federal deficit will make unemployment and poverty worse–way worse. And that means that women’s economic condition will deteriorate even further. – Susan F. Feiner

It’s even worse for women of color:

Which brings us to the chained CPI (consumer price index), an obscure change to the COLA formula that would cut benefits more with each passing year. If the chained CPI were adopted, by age 70–after just five years of collecting Social Security benefits–the median benefit for African American single women seniors would dip below the poverty line, and continue on a downward spiral as those women age, cutting nearly $1,000 by the time they reach age 95. – Social Security COLA Cut Will Drive Single, Senior, African American Women Into Poverty

So, to review where women have been in the Democratic debt ceiling debacle. Pres. Obama’s debt ceiling meeting started with not one single woman in the room.

At Blair House, the old boys club meeting has consisted of Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), U.S. Senators John Kyl (R-AZ), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Max Baucus (D-MT), Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who have convened for the budget negotiations with Vice President Biden, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Budget Director Jack Lew, and economic adviser Gene Sperling. Where are the women? – National Council of Women’s Organization

This received zero national attention by the media.

It’s a miracle that minority leader Nancy Pelosi pushed her way inside the meeting, but by then everything was set in concrete, which is why Pres. Obama didn’t see it as important that she was in the room in the first place.

But here’s the reality. No single group relies on the U.S. social safety net more deeply than women as we age. COLA is important to women living on a fixed income with no other way through but poverty.

A “feminist economist” Susan F. Feiner weighs in on what we’re losing, as Pres. Obama carelessly invokes words like “reality show” to describe who is prevailing in this fight, saying no one cares. To women, who is “winning” is the Washington game that impacts our lives, especially when we lose, as we have done with Pres. Obama.

Listen up, sisters! Deficit hawks will eat your lunch, your kids, your jobs and your retirement. […] Today’s deficit hawks (and way too many Democrats are flying with this flock), fundamentally and deliberately misinform by insisting on a fictional symmetry between private sector (household and corporate) bookkeeping and the U.S. federal debt.

… Here are the facts: U.S. government borrowing creates interest-bearing assets. The bonds are bought with dollars, the interest on them is paid in dollars and, at maturity, the bonds are paid off in dollars. Since the U.S. government is both sovereign in its own currency and the sole issuer of dollars, it can never run out of them. How could it?

Don’t think printing presses here: Federal debts are paid off by Treasury clerks making a few clicks on computer keyboards—keyboards identical to the one I’m typing on now.

In contrast, families and businesses have to earn income or sell assets to get dollars to pay off debts. The federal government does not face any such constraint. It can spend as much as it likes and borrow as much as it likes. With so many people out of work—nearly 30 million and counting–and so many firms operating well below capacity, there is no danger of inflation. So, right now, government borrowing and government spending will do one thing and one thing only: It will pump up aggregate demand, call jobs into being and reduce economic pain. Our children will be better off.

Meanwhile, the ceiling limiting the federal debt is an arbitrary constraint.

[…] Fiscal austerity—aka, reducing the deficit—endangers our lives. Deficit spending lies behind virtually all the social services, public amenities, and consumer safety standards that distinguish the U.S. from Rwanda, Bangladesh or Guyana. The Chicago Tribune recently reported that Congress is “moving to eliminate the only national program that regularly screens U.S. fruits and vegetables for the type of E. coli that recently caused a deadly outbreak in Germany.” Clearly, this $4.5 million program is too expensive. (Note to reader: $4.5 million is just over half the median pay for top executives at the nation’s 200 largest firms, according to The New York Times. Executive pay is up 23 percent over 2009. What if each of these guys chipped in a measly $22,500 so the rest of us could eat untainted food?)

Pres. Obama has been the conductor revving the engine on what is now a runaway train on entitlement “reform,” using the disingenuous selling point that by everyone eating his or her peas it will come out balanced.

It’s a lie. Women will find this out the hard way.

But Pres. Obama won’t have to worry. He’ll be long gone after his disastrous Republican economic schemes have reduced the strength of the safety net elderly women need to stay out of poverty.

No big deal. Women have spouses, right? What else could they possibly need?

Research from IWPR has shown the current Social Security program is a mainstay for women, and these findings have been supported by research from other organizations. Adult women are 51 percent (27 million) of all beneficiaries, including retirees, the disabled, and the survivors of deceased workers (52.5 million). Women are more likely to rely on Social Security because they have fewer alternative sources of income, often outlive their husbands, and are more likely to be left to rear children when their husbands die or become permanently disabled. Moreover, due to the recession many women have lost home equity and savings to failing markets. Older women—and older low income populations in general—have become more economically vulnerable and dependent on Social Security benefits. – IWPR

Taylor Marsh is a Washington based political analyst, writer and commentator on national politics, foreign policy, and women in power. A veteran national politics writer, Taylor’s been writing on the web since 1996. She has reported from the White House, been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her blog.