Tag Archives: women

Happy 80th Birthday, Social Security

20150814_social_security_american_classiIt was eighty years ago today that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. But it’s more than its age that makes Social Security an American classic.

  • We built it—and it represents our shared values. Generation after generation, working Americans have contributed to create our Social Security system—to provide income and security for themselves, their families, and their neighbors when they need it.
  • We built it to last. Through wars, recessions, and natural disasters, Social Security has delivered the benefits workers have earned for themselves and their families—on time and in full.
  • We made Social Security better. President Roosevelt himself said that the law he signed “represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but which is by no means complete.” We’ve added protections for spouses, surviving spouses, divorced spouses, and children; for workers with disabilities and their families; extended coverage to more workers; provided automatic cost-of-living adjustments; and eliminated sex discrimination in the award of benefits.

Working together to improve Social Security made it an American classic. What’s next?

  • Insist that Congress prevents deep cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance next year. There are simple solutions to this phony crisis. Congress could rebalance Social Security’s finances between its two Trust Funds, as it has 11 times before. Or, it could unify the Trust Funds—recognizing that there is One Social Security system and it is still going strong. Under either approach, Social Security could pay 100 percent of all promised benefits until 2034. And after that, even with no changes, Social Security can pay 79 percent of promised benefits from the payroll taxes workers and employers will continue to pay into Social Security.
  • Strengthen Social Security’s finances by increasing revenue, not cutting benefits; for example, by requiring high earners to pay Social Security payroll taxes on all their earnings, the way the vast majority of Americans do.
  • Increase vital but modest Social Security benefits. Several bills to enhance benefits and improve solvency have been introduced in this Congress.

So Happy Birthday Social Security—and many, many more.

Where is Bernie Sanders on Gender Justice?

Ed. note: This post was originally published on the Community site.

I want to support Bernie. I really do. He’s right on the money to call for expanding Social Security, the most effective anti-poverty program in the United States. And I am more than down to fight alongside him against rampant inequality and for better wages and working conditions.

But I have to ask. Why does Bernie struggle so much to talk about gender? Why is it like pulling teeth for him to talk about my identity as a woman in addition to my identity as a worker?

I took a look through his platform recently, and I didn’t exactly see women represented there. For one, most of the policies that would disproportionately benefit women (equal pay, paid family leave, paid vacation, and paid sick days) are housed within the “Real Family Values” section, a classification that implicitly characterizes women’s rights as valuable only insofar as they benefit a larger family unit.

And while the platform mentions abortion briefly, it fails to offer any recommendations about how to preserve and expand access. Due to the Hyde Amendment, federal funds cannot be used for abortion except in limited circumstances. This restriction means that, as a result of economic deprivation, poor women, who are disproportionately Black and Brown, can be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. To reduce these barriers to women accessing basic health care services, Bernie should throw his support behind the EACH Woman Act, a recently introduced piece of legislation that, according to RH Reality Check, “would ensure that anyone who has health care or health insurance through the federal government also has coverage of abortion care.”

I also couldn’t help but notice the largest proposed expenditure in Bernie’s platform, which would allocate $1 trillion over five years to modernize our infrastructure. Bernie claims it would create 13 million jobs. From an economics standpoint, this makes perfect sense, as government spending on infrastructure has a strongly positive effect on economic output.

But I have to ask again, jobs for whom? While infrastructure spending creates a lot of employment opportunities, these openings are disproportionately filled by men. In fact, due to harassment and discrimination, women make up only 26% of all construction workers. In order for the gains of Bernie’s proposal to be more equitably shared, he must also explicitly embrace the National Women’s Law Center recommendations of ensuring stronger enforcement of workplace protections and an expansion of training opportunities. While this is just one example, it demonstrates why strong economic investments that fail to take identity-based barriers into account are incomplete.

However, in the past few weeks, Bernie has started to recognize that not all inequality boils down to class inequality, particularly around the issue of race. In response to powerful #BlackLivesMatter activism, he released his racial justice platform before an enormous crowd of 28,000 people in Portland on Monday night. This document is intended to address physical, political, legal, and economic violence perpetuated against Black and Brown people in this country and opens with the names of Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, and others who have died at the hands of law enforcement or in police custody. Thus far, it has received seemingly positive initial reviews:

#BernieSanders on Racism and Racial Justice – I haven’t seen a statement this strong from 1600’s current inhabitant. http://bitly.com/1MqWUO0

— Kirsten West Savali (@KWestSavali) August 9, 2015

The “violence” framing in the initial draft of the Sanders Racial Justice platform is powerful. & I look forward to seeing him expand this.

— deray mckesson (@deray) August 10, 2015

As Deray McKesson noted, the anti-violence framing of the platform would benefit from further elaboration. Right now, it’s disappointing that there’s no mention of law enforcement’s usage of sexual assault as a weapon of control and terror, a tactic that is disproportionately wielded against the bodies of Black women. Or the complicity of the state in the rapes of trans and queer women of color in immigration detention centers. Bernie should build upon this promising anti-violence framework by expanding it to also include gender-based violence.

Among the viable presidential candidates, Berne’s commitment to progressive economic policies could place him closest to what achieving gender justice demands. But, he cannot rest on his laurels – he must do more to include women, especially marginalized women, in his calls for a more equal nation.

 

Millennial women: Anna Quindlen says: You go!

Amplify’d from feministing.com

Anna Quindlen on young women and feminism

Woodruff asked Quindlen if she was concerned that young women today didn’t acknowledge the progress that had been made before them
“I don’t want to hear anyone talk about how young women today aren’t this or that. Millennial women are the coolest, most capable, most together women ever.”

So there you have it, young feminists and young, supposedly complacent women: Anna Quindlen’s got your back.

Read more at feministing.com