The ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’ Dance for Women

Wed, January 28, 2009

Equal Pay


I’m not trying to be a party pooper. Borrowing one of PunditGirl’s new favorite words — I’m “ecstatic” that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is going to get signed into law by President Barack Obama. It’s a wonderful step forward in women’s battle for fair pay and gives us an important tool to get back pay and pension benefits, as well.

But the name of the Ledbetter bill is a tad misleading. Hopefully it puts us on the path to fair pay, but the new Ledbetter law is essentially a revised statute of limitations for wage discrimination claims. It doesn’t make employers pay people equally.

One step forward.

When the House of Representatives passed Ledbetter, it also gave the thumbs up to the Paycheck Fairness Act which would update the Equal Pay Act and prohibit employers from paying people less based on gender or race. Interestingly, the Senate refused to vote on that and who knows what committee in-box that will end up languishing in. So why didn’t the Senate vote on that as well?

One step back.

Now, as the economic stimulus package is on its way to the White House for passage, a little piece got taken out at request of President Obama because of GOP push back and House Minority Leader John Boehner’s question about how birth control and reproductive rights could possibly have anything to do with economic stimulus.

To Congressman Boehner, I say, “DUH!”

I know they’re not really that stupid. It’s not rocket science to figure out that if women have access to birth control, fewer kids means making families’ lives more affordable and manageable, saving the government money in other programs. Giving low income women access to preventative care like Pap tests and other screening tests detect disease early, making it more treatable, keeping women in the workforce to support their families.

I was taken aback when President Obama said that now isn’t the “right” time to increase funding so all women have access to the kind of services that reduce the burden on state and federal programs AND keep women working TO. STIMULATE. THE. ECONOMY.

If not now, President Obama, when IS the right time? You might be able to convince me, if you tell me what your timing is.

Two steps back.

I know it’s hard for some guys to get their heads around the reality that reproductive health care has a direct link to our economy’s well-being. It’s even harder for me to understand this view when so many of those who oppose it, or want to delay it, are fathers of daughters.

Barack, don’t keep us waiting. You’ve got some goodwill saved up in the bank. But we expect you to be an advocate for the Paycheck Fairness Act and for increased health services for low income women. It’s only going to be a few years until Malia and Sasha will be directly impacted by how women are paid in this country and face the realities of how many mothers are treated when it comes to getting the health care they need to keep our economy going.

As I sometimes say to PunditGirl, please don’t make me ask again.

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32 Responses to “The ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’ Dance for Women”

  1. patrick Says:

    Well there is now several billion dollars in the stimulus plan for STD prevention/education. More wasted money that has nothing to do with creating jobs!

  2. judy in ky Says:

    Boehner and his ilk are so transparent. You always know what they are going to say before they open their mouths. They have to toe the line with their closed-minded constituents.

  3. patrick Says:

    The decision came after President Obama called Democratic leaders to tell them that the $200 million set-aside does not comport with the objectives of the job creation package.

    Birth control creates jobs? Or are you saying that birth control enables poor woman to stay employed?
    Perhaps this country should look into better maternity leave laws etc. that actually encourage woman to have kids if they want and not be penalized. I mean what is it now 6 weeks that woman get, that is a JOKE!

  4. patrick Says:

    Also the government wanted to prevent pregnancies by poor woman cause poor people cost the government too much money this has nothing to do with better health care for poor woman, just my 2 cents


    A 2007 study by the Congressional Budget Office found sizable federal savings if states were free to give contraceptives to poor women. The report found that post-pregnancy family planning did nothing to reduce the cost of Medicaid-funded births. But preventing pregnancies by providing contraceptives, the study found, would save the federal government an estimated $200 million over five years.

  5. Jen Says:

    Patrick – Holy cow, you make the rounds.

    “Perhaps this country should look into better maternity leave laws etc. that actually encourage woman to have kids if they want and not be penalized. I mean what is it now 6 weeks that woman get, that is a JOKE!”

    This might be the smartest thing I’ve seen you type Patrick. But there is a point to be made to keep women working so they don’t lose jobs. The package wants to create jobs, but it’s just as important to prevent losing more.

    It’s amazing how oblivious guys can be to women. It’s amazing how much insurance/state/etc coverage there is for Viagra. Gotta keep the hardons coming but god forbid women protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies.

  6. patrick Says:

    Actually Jen my wife ( a woman) could not grasp the birth control creating jobs thing either. :)

    So Jen what your saying is all poor woman don’t want to get pregnant ? All their pregnancies are unwanted?

    The package wants to create jobs, but it’s just as important to prevent losing more.

    If that is the case Jen then I would think better maternity leave/ family leave would go further to keeping woman employed. Would also go further in making sure we have enough people in 18-20 years to pay off this debt/taxes etc.

  7. Daisy Says:

    Don’t forget the health insurance connection. Many poor working women do not have insurance, and therefore cannot afford to buy birth control or become pregnant.

  8. patrick Says:

    Actually Daisy many poor woman get pregnant and Medicaid picks up the tab. Just as many poor woman can go to PP for birth control at drastically reduced rates if not for free.

  9. Jen Says:

    Actually – I never said anything about poor women. You’ve been putting the word poor in my thoughts for 2 days now.

    And, I am totally with ya on the maternity leave (believe me!). I have nothing to argue about on that point. I did read that Obama would like to expand that in the future.

  10. patrick Says:

    Sorry Jen,
    It was punditmom that used the term poor, actually low income is what she used.
    And since the birth control funding Pelosi was chatting about was directed at medicaid it is only fair to assume that poor woman is whom everyone was targeting since we all know rich woman dont frequent the medicaid roles!

  11. Caffeinatrix Says:

    How disappointing…

  12. Amy@UWM Says:

    While I can see the connection between family planning and the economy, I also understand the practical realities of trying to gain bi-partisan support for the stimulus package. While Obama could get his packaged passed with a Democratic majority, it’s critical for Obama to set the right tone with Congress, particularly Republicans, right off the bat, showing that he’s willing work with both sides. Increased funding for family planning is linked to stimulating the economy but it isn’t necessarily central to it. Compromise at this stage of his administration is a better bet for when he has to fight other issues down the road. I don’t see this cut as a step backward. I see it as a “hang in there, we’ll skin this cat another way down the line.”

  13. patrick Says:

    well he got his “package” passed and without a single republican supporting it! so much for working with both sides!

    $335 million for SRD prevention/education passing as economic stimulus, Right (sarcasm)!

  14. patrick Says:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/
    toby_harnden/blog/2009/01
    /29/hollow_victory_
    republicans_deliver_slap_
    in_the_face_to_barack_obama

  15. Jen Says:

    Patrick- Can you honestly say that Obama hasn’t tried to work with the Republicans? He took a good portion of Infrastructure money out to accomodate stupid tax cuts that haven’t worked in the past? While it may not be everything that everyone wants, you can’t say that Obama hasn’t tried to work with them.

    At this point, since it’s obvious the R Congressmen(women)aren’t even going to compromise, Obama should just do it the way he wants.

    The bottom line is that Obama just isn’t going to give in to all of the republican demands. And the fact of the matter is that it IS a spending bill. It’s basic economics. If consumers and businesses aren’t spending, then the gov’t needs to.

  16. Lana Says:

    I am fuirous over this and glad you posted on it. I am also furious over the fact that Congress held a hearing on sexual assault in the military yesterday and the press has ignored it.

    Stars & Stripes is the only newspaper I see with a story. C.I. covered the hearing at her site

    http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2009/01/iraq-snapshot_28.html

    But outside of C.I.'s site, I'm not seeing any websites that even seem aware of it.

    I'm going to put the link on my name so anyone who wants to read up on the hearing can.

    I find it disgusting that the Air Force wants victims advocates to be 'volunteer' (unpaid) positions that people do in their spare time. That attitude goes a long way towards explaining the culture that enables sexual assault.

  17. patrick Says:

    He took a good portion of Infrastructure money out to accomodate stupid tax cuts that haven’t worked in the past?

    are you referring to the birth control funding?!
    and oh yeah in the new plan he is giving millions to ACORN, you know the organization that is linked with voter fraud, yeah that is going to do wonders for the economy!

    No Jen it is not a spending bill, it is supposed to be a stimulus bill (stimulating) but the only thing being stimulated is the pork (ear marks).

  18. patrick Says:

    But outside of C.I.’s site, I’m not seeing any websites that even seem aware of it.

    Drudge was aware of it.

  19. Becky Says:

    Well said, PM. Thanks.

  20. Lana Says:

    Patrick, thanks for saying Drudge covered it. I don't see it there and believe Matt Drudge basically recycles. When I said C.I. covered it, she was at the hearing and wrote a report.

    Kat was also at the hearing and wrote a little of it up in

    http://katskornerofthecommonills.blogspot.com/2009/01/when-i-tried-to-smoke-banana.html

    Matt Drudge may have posted a link to the Stars & Stripes article but I doubt he covered it. If I'm wrong, please provide the link because I would love to read some more coverage of the hearing. Thanks.

  21. patrick Says:

    a
    Patrick, thanks for saying Drudge covered it. I don’t see it there and believe Matt Drudge basically recycles. When I said C.I. covered it, she was at the hearing and wrote a report.

    My mistake, I thought you meant “covered” as in reported about it, be it first hand or second etc. There was a link to an article about it yesterday on Drudge.
    I would of loved to see the MSM cover the 2009 walk for life, but perhaps they had more important things to cover than that and your hearing, who knows but the media in general does not report on many things!

  22. Jen Says:

    Well, most people have said that the government needs to spend money in order to stimulate the economy. That’s what I was referring to. I personally would love for it all to be spent on the crumbling infrastructure that we’ve let go to long.

    And so… do you think Obama hasn’t made a genuine try to work with Republicans?

  23. Jen Says:

    Lana – I’ve not heard anything about it (like you’ve pointed out). I’ll check the article.

  24. Lana Says:

    Patrick, thanks for updating me. I did go to Drudge Report (1st time) when I read your comment and couldn’t find it. Thanks for explaining what I missed.

  25. The Girl Revolution Says:

    Here’s the part I don’t get . . . every single conservative family I know (and I know many cause I live in East Texas and was raised by Mormon in Utah) ALL use birth control and would never give their birth control up.

    So, I just don’t understand who are these anti-birth-control crazies?

  26. anniegirl1138 Says:

    My dad voted against the ERA back in the 70′s. Years later, when I discovered this, I asked him how he could do that being the father of three daughters?

    He just stared at me. It never crossed his mind that he was voting against his children.

    You asked a question the other day. Should women continue to vote for male politicians who “understand” women’s issues. My answer was no and it continues to be because MEN DON’T UNDERSTAND WOMEN’S ISSUES. It might have something to do with not being women who haven’t any choice but to think about how to get about in a world that would rather red tent us or steal our shoes and lock us in kitchens rather than deal with the reality of what being female is.

    I

  27. patrick Says:

    Here’s the part I don’t get . . . every single conservative family I know (and I know many cause I live in East Texas and was raised by Mormon in Utah) ALL use birth control and would never give their birth control up.

    So, I just don’t understand who are these anti-birth-control crazies?

    Well every conservative family that I have ever known and currently know never have used ABC and would never think of using it.

    Some of them have 2 kids some have 8 kids. None are on the welfare dole/medicaid dole etc. They can all afford to raise the kids that they have and are open to more children, God willing.

    Now I am sure that you know that most Christian denominations all forbade ABC, the Catholic Church being the only one that still does (for many reasons). And from what I have heard the LDS has the fewest users of ABC, or so they like to rant and rave.

  28. PunditMom Says:

    Money for viagra vs. birth control and cancer screeings? Don’t even get me started.

  29. PunditMom Says:

    And so much for setting the right tone. Obama took stuff out in hopes of getting some GOP support, and then the GOP thumbed their noses at him and none voted for it anyway. Yeah — the tone is going to be changing REAL soon.

  30. patrick Says:

    Punditmom-

    Yes, Obama took stuff out but it still has too much pork/earmarks in it to do much good. Why is it so hard to actually make an economic stimulus package not a pork fry/payback package?

  31. Caroline Says:

    Am linking to this post in a post I’m writing about the Ledbetter Act. Is it just me or does this whole thing feel like a fancy quick fix, something to keep the womens rights activists quiet for the time being? Not actually dealing with the real issues. Not saying I don’t support it but its so the tip of a very deep rooted iceberg.

    And why is it that BC and womens health care is always so controversial? What is the problem here? What, its not healthy for a woman to limit how many children she wants to have?

    But back to Ledbetter, I’m not so sure this will radically change much in the work place since there are so many other issues wrong too.

    Oh and I am very grateful for my expenisve BC pill so that I can eventually (hopefully) scare up some paid work and help pay some bills around here.


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  1. [...] aren’t doing such a bang up job at the moment — they’re dragging their feet on Paycheck Fairness, throwing reproductive health under the bus and we still aren’t further on paid sick days [...]

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