As part of Mitt Romney’s ongoing attemptto project all of his weakness onto President Obama, the presumed GOP nominee is accusing his general election opponent of waging a “war on women.”
Democrats have used the same charge to highlight Republicans’ systematic attacks on women’s rights, but Romney flipped the claim at a rally last night night, saying, “The real war on women has been the job losses as the result of the Obama economy.” He continued the attack on Fox News this morning, where he repeatedly went out of his way to attack Obama’s record on women:
ROMNEY: Over 92 percent of the jobs lost under this president where lost by women. His policies have been really a war on women. … Women in particular suffered under this presidency. Watch it: http://youtu.be/F7H_FcJifM0
The “92 percent” statistic that Romney cites is highly misleading. For one thing, it attributes to Obama job losses from January 2009 — a terrible month for jobs — before he was even sworn in as president, and long before his policies were enacted. If you count the entirety of the recession beginning in 2007, 39.7 percent of the jobs lost — less than half — were lost by women.
The reason women’s job losses are skewed towards the end of the recession is that the earlier job losses were largely in male-dominated industries such as construction. Women, meanwhile, tend to work in industries that have been hit harder on the back end of the recession, such as education and health care — public sector jobs that have been decimated by GOP austerity budgeting. Princeton University Professor Betsey Stevenson told Politifact that “in every recession men’s job loss occurs first and most, with unemployment rates for men being more cyclical than those of women’s.”
Meanwhile, Obama has enacted policies to help women, like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, designed to help close the pay gap between the genders. This morning, Romney’s campaign wouldn’t say if their candidate supports the law, which was blocked by Senate Republicans. In fact, the campaign couldn’t offer any coherent explanation for how Obama has waged a “war on women” at all.
On health care — which polls show is women’s number one issue, beating even the economy — Obama’s health reform law includes a number of provisions to help women women, such as free preventive services and better access to contraception, both of which were enacted over opposition from Republican lawmakers. Meanwhile, Romney has called for eliminating Planned Parenthood and restricting access to contraception.
Romney’s concern for women is a new development, likely spurred by very bad polling for him, as just last month he told a college student concerned about losing access to her insurance-covered contraception, “vote for the other guy.”
By: Alex Seitz-Wald and Pat Garofalo, Think Progress, April 11, 2012
“Regressive And Counterproductive”: What A Romney-Rubio Administration’s Immigration Policy Would Look Like
Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee now that Rick Santorum has dropped out of the race, and Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) name has frequently been mentioned as a possible vice presidential pickfor Romney to help him win over Hispanic voters.
But if Romney chose Rubio as his vice president and won, what would a Romney-Rubio administration set for its immigration policy? Nothing that would help fix the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system, according to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress, based on their existing polices:
A Romney-Rubio administration would advance the following counterproductive legislative priorities:
-Make E-Verify, the nation’s flawed internet-based work-authorization system, mandatory for all employers in the hope that undocumented immigrants will self-deport
-Pursue a “DREAM-less” DREAM Act, which would grant legal status but no path to earn citizenship for unauthorized immigrants who were brought here at a young age
We can also be certain that a Romney-Rubio administration would adopt the following regressive administrative priorities:
-Support for states seeking to pass anti-immigrant laws like Arizona’s S.B. 1070
-Implementation of a comprehensive “self-deportation” strategy for undocumented immigrants in which the government would make life as miserable as possible to try to force undocumented immigrants to leave the country on their own
-Elimination of prosecutorial discretion that helps enforcement agents prioritize serious criminals over nannies and busboys
-Construction of another 1,400 miles of border fencing despite the exorbitant cost
“Voters should ask themselves whether they want to support a potential administration with immigration positions far more extreme than their own,” the reports’ authors write.
Romney has tried to woo Hispanic voters in his campaign, even winning a majority of the demographic in the Florida GOP primary. But his extreme immigration stances have also alienated Hispanic voters. A recent poll showed that President Obama is leading Romney among Hispanic voters 70 to 14 percent. Judging from the policies that could be expected, Romney may need more than Rubio as a potential vice president to win over the fastest-growing segment of the population.
By: Amanda Peterson Beadle, Think Progress, April 11, 2012
Earlier today, the Romney campaign responded to a question about whether their candidate supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act’s protection of equal pay for women with an awkward six second silence, followed by a promise to “get back” with an answer about whether or not Romney actually supports equal pay for women. The campaign has spent the rest of the day engaged in ham-handed damage control — first by putting out a statement saying that he is “not looking to change current law,” then by releasing statements by Republican congresswomen who previously voted against the Ledbetter Act.
Yet for all of Romney’s equivocating on whether or not he actually believes that women should be paid the same amount as men who do the exact same job, Romney cannot hide two important facts. The Ledbetter Act was only necessary because of a 5-4 Supreme Court decision which overruled decades of precedent protecting equal pay for equal work; and Romney promised to appoint more justices like the ones who voted against Lilly Ledbetter.
Last November, Romney listed four sitting Justices as the models he will follow if he gets to appoint a justice of his own — Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. Every single one of these justices voted against Lilly Ledbetter and against equal pay for women in the workplace. Just like they have voted in favor of corporate immunity from the law on issues ranging from forced arbitration to enabling corporations to buy and sell elections.
But, of course, Congress overruled the Supreme Court’s error in the Ledbetter case when it passed the Ledbetter Act, and Romney now says that he doesn’t want to change “current law.” So doesn’t that mean women’s current rights to equal pay are safe?
Not if Romney gets to appoint any more conservative justices. Just months after Congress spanked the Supreme Court by overruling their attack on women in Ledbetter, the five conservative justices handed down a very similar opinion stripping many older workers of their right to be free from employment discrimination. Worse, in taking away many older workers’ ability to protect their jobs, the Court left no doubt that it was thumbing its nose at precedent. Although longstanding law clearly established that the justices’ assault on older workers was wrongly decided, the Court’s conservatives choose to ignore this law because “it is far from clear that the Court would have the same approach were it to consider the question today in the first instance.” In other words, now that conservatives are in charge, they are free to do whatever they want.
Given that the conservative justices renewed their attack on workers so soon after the Ledbetter Act became law, and that they did so in an opinion that expressly stated that they do not care about precedents or established law, women simply cannot be sure that these same justices won’t hand down another decision much like Ledbetter if given the opportunity to do so. Mitt Romney may claim that he does not want to change “current law” in a way that harms working women, but if he gets to add more justices like Roberts or Scalia to the Supreme Court, he won’t have to. The Supreme Court will do it for him.
By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, April 11, 2012
Late last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested in a tweet that President Obama is “stupid” because Grassley objected to the president’s recent comments on judicial activism. President Obama’s comments warned that conservatives have historically rejected the idea that an “unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law” — a position that Grassley himself held as recently as 2011.
At an event in Dubuque, Iowa yesterday, Grassley backed off his claim that the first black president of the Harvard Law Review lacks intelligence:
“I had a comment; I should have been a little more diplomatic,” Grassley said, referring to his controversial tweet and drawing laughter from the gathering of about 50 people, “because the president is an intelligent man.”
Grassley added later, “He said something stupid. I say something stupid. We all say something stupid from time to time.” . . .
“What bothers me is the fact that (Obama) knows all about Marbury v. Madison (a historic case that established judicial review) and the Constitution allowing the courts to be independent and in the process of independence to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional,” Grassley said. “He shouldn’t have done it, and he knows that. And I think that he ought to apologize to the American people for not respecting the independence of the judiciary.”
Grassley is right that all people, including elected officials, sometimes misspeak and say something that does not accurately convey their meaning. In Obama’s case, he said something which could plausibly be interpreted as claiming that judges can never strike down a federal law, and then elaborated on that comment shortly thereafter to clarify that he did not intend something that is obviously false. President Obama’s full statement, that there are no modern precedents for judges second guessing Congress’ economic policy judgment such as the Affordable Care Act, cannot reasonably be disputed.
Nevertheless, Grassley seems determined not to take his own advice, even as he backs off his most insulting claim that Obama is “stupid.” Grassley’s claim that Obama needs to apologize is ridiculous, especially because it is hard to distinguish Obama’s remarks from years of anti-judicial rhetoric from George W. Bush.
By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, April 11, 2012
Rick Santorum’s departure from the presidential race could not come soon enough for Mitt Romney. In proving himself more tenacious than anyone predicted, Santorum dramatized one of Romney’s major problems, created another and forced the now-inevitable Republican nominee into a strategic dilemma.
Republicans may condemn class warfare, but their primaries turned into a class struggle. Romney performed best among voters with high incomes, and he was consistently weaker with the white working class, even in the late primaries where he put Santorum away. And Romney cannot win without rolling up very large margins among less well-off whites.
At the same time, Santorum’s strength among evangelical Christians pressured Romney to toughen his positions even as the Republican Party as a whole, at both the state and national levels, has pushed policies on contraception and abortion that have alienated many women, particularly the college-educated.
This is Romney’s other problem: Among college-educated white men, Romney had a healthy 57 percent to 39 percent lead over President Obama in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. But among college-educated white women, Obama led Romney by 60 percent to 40 percent. This netted to a rather astounding 38-point gender gap, compared with a net 27-point gap among all white voters. (Thanks to Peyton Craighill of The Washington Post’s polling staff for extracting these numbers, which are based on registered voters.) Overall, the poll taken before Santorum left the race showed Obama leading Romney by 51 percent to 44 percent.
Thus the box the primaries built for Romney: He must simultaneously court evangelical Christians and working-class voters who have eluded him so far and also reassure socially moderate women higher up the class ladder who, for now, are providing Obama with decisive margins. It’s not easy to do both.
Even if the most conservative Republicans who supported Santorum and Newt Gingrich largely fall into line out of antipathy to Obama, Romney still has to worry about whether they’ll be enthusiastic enough to turn out in the large numbers he’ll need. Yet if he concentrates on winning back upscale women, who now favor Obama by even larger margins than they gave him in 2008, Romney will only aggravate his enthusiasm problem on the right.
Romney’s predicament is Obama’s opportunity. The president is moving aggressively to take advantage of the class opening afforded him by the candidate of “a couple of Cadillacs,” “I like being able to fire people” and “corporations are people, my friend.” In a series of speeches in Florida the day Santorum withdrew, Obama hit repeatedly on the twin themes of fairness and opportunity. He called for a nation in which “everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does a fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules,” while eviscerating Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiscal plan, which Romney supports, as a budget “that showers the wealthiest Americans with even more tax cuts.”
Most conservatives seem oblivious to the party’s working-class problem, but not all. Henry Olsen, a vice president at the American Enterprise Institute, says Republicans need to understand that the GOP’s success in the 2010 House races was built in less affluent districts at a moment when Obama’s approval rating among white working-class men was so low “that it was only a few points higher than Richard Nixon’s was at the time of his resignation.”
Olsen sees Obama’s echoes of Bill Clinton’s pledges to help those who “work hard and play by the rules” as shrewd politics aimed at rehabilitating his standing with such Americans. And in Romney, Obama faces a candidate whose “troubles in the primary electorate demonstrated his trouble in connecting with the white working class.” Romney, Olsen says, “has difficulties with his background, difficulties with his manner, some difficulties Obama shares.”
Romney isn’t losing downscale whites. The Post/ABC poll showed him leading Obama by 19 points among white voters without a college education. The problem: That’s roughly the lead John McCain had in this group in 2008, and we know who won that election. Obama, Olsen said, can lose the white working class “by a substantial margin” and still win because of his strength among African Americans, Latinos and well-educated women.
Yes, it’s still early. Renewed economic jitters in Europe could spoil a fragile U.S. recovery. But for now, Romney finds himself in a political maze with no obvious path out. He’s there partly because of his own mistakes, but he was also led to this point because of the unlikely strength of Rick Santorum’s challenge.
By: E. J. Dionne, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 11, 2012