This week, ThinkProgress’s excellent Bryce Covert wrote about a new report by the National Women’s Law Project about the relationship between the minimum wage and the gender pay gap. As the NWLP demonstrates, raising the minimum wage would help close the gender pay gap, because women are disproportionately concentrated in low-wage sectors such as food service, retail, housekeeping, and home health aides,
Raising the minimum wage is an important step in bringing economic justice to women workers. Consider the following:
– Contrary to what you might assume based on the recent mass freak-out by male Fox News anchors, we ladies are hardly the dominant sex in the workplace. In fact, we’re losing ground economically, and the gender wage gap is getting worse rather than better. Increasing the minimum wage would significantly remedy the situation.
– The NWLP points out that women of color, who suffer from racial discrimination as well as gender discrimination, make up a disproportionate number of minimum wage workers. So they, too, stand to strongly benefit from a minimum wage increase, in ways that would partially offset the effects of discrimination.
– Earlier research has shown that the declining real value of the minimum wage has substantially accelerated the trend in growing wage inequality in the U.S. generally, particularly among women. Increasing the minimum wage would help slow this trend.
– Finally, one of the chief benefits of the the minimum wage is as economic stimulus. In fact, it was originally instituted during the Great Depression not so much as a worker protection policy but as macroeconomic policy, to encourage economic growth. Low-wage workers tend to spend close to every penny they make, rather than save. The money they inject back into the economy then has a multiplier effect which revives the economy as a whole — meaning that the minimum wage benefits not just minimum wage workers, but everyone else.
So far, President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage, which he made in the State of the Union address earlier this year, doesn’t seem to have gotten out of committee. It’s one of the endless list of things in this country that is excellent policy and excellent politics, but is being blocked by the G.O.P. Lather, rinse, repeat. Will this story ever end?
By: Kathleen Geier, Washington Monthly Political Animal, June 8, 2013
Asked about the gender wage gap last night, Mitt Romney changed the subject. “What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a — a flexible work schedule that gives women the opportunities that — that they would otherwise not be able to — to afford,” he said. Sensing that he was going to be forced to actually answer the question, Romney added, “I’m going to help women in America get — get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.”
There are so many half-formed assumptions and pseudo-promises here that it’s hard to know where to start, but let’s go to the basic premise: That the wage gap narrows when the economy is strong. That premise, so far as we can see from the data, is wrong.
“In good economic times, bonus payments, overtime hours and merit pay increase,” says Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “Women are under-represented in the top echelons,” where compensation has soared in good times. “Women are less likely to work overtime,” she adds, and “research suggests that merit and performance-related pay still is a key area for gender discrimination.” There’s also research suggesting that “salary increases related to promotions might differ by gender.”
In fact, the recent economic woes actually narrowed the wage gap, because while both men and women suffered, men lost more ground, according to a 2011 IWPR analysis: “Real earnings for both men and women have fallen since 2010, by 0.9 percent for women and 2.1 percent for men.” That’s likely because male-dominated sectors like construction were hard hit in the recession. Since then, the majority of job gains in the recovery have gone to men, suggesting that (skewed) equilibrium will likely be restored.
By: Irin Carmon, Salon, October 17, 2012
It can seem like just a mirage created by the summer heat: only a few weeks ago the Supreme Court actually handed down a decision that progressives could celebrate. It held that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, including the individual mandate, meaning that implementation can roll on full steam ahead. I was one of the first to celebrate, in particular for all the ways that the law will help women who need healthcare (which is all of us). As Katha Pollitt recently wrote here, women will benefit dramatically from the ACA. The law bars practices like charging women more just for being women, dropping women’s coverage if they become pregnant or sick, and denying coverage due to “pre-existing conditions” like having had breast cancer or being a victim of domestic violence. It adds new benefits like birth control coverage at no cost to the patient, expanded coverage of preventative services like prenatal care, mammograms, pap smears, and bone-density screenings through Medicare, and requiring insurance companies to cover maternity care.
But one aspect of the Supreme Court’s decision could have some very bad results for women: the ruling that states can opt out of the Medicaid expansion. While this could end up harming men and women, women in particular stand to suffer if states refuse to participate in the program.
The Medicaid expansion is a crucial component of the law’s overall goal of extending coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans by 2019, covering almost half of the total number of people the bill promised to insure. Originally, the law included a provision that the federal government could take away all of a state’s Medicaid funding if it refused to go along with the expansion, which all but ensured participation. But the Court ruled that such a maneuver was unconstitutional. Just a few days after the decision was announced, seven Republican governors said they would flat out reject the money to expand Medicaid rolls, with at least eight more looking to follow suit. More have said no since then.
This could create a no-man’s land for those who earn less than 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, making them ineligible for tax subsidies to help them buy insurance, but don’t qualify for their state’s (unexpanded) Medicaid program. These Americans are surely struggling to get by, but not quite enough to get health coverage promised to those above and below them.
And women are likely to fall into this chasm. Remember that unexpanded Medicaid does not cover most childless adults. Currently, a woman must meet both categorical and income criteria to qualify for Medicaid: she must be pregnant, a mother of a child under age 18, a senior citizen, or have a disability, and each category has income criteria, which differ state by state. Given that women are more likely to be pregnant (duh) but also to fall into the other categories, they are already the majority of enrollees in the program. However, given that many women don’t meet categorical criteria, many don’t qualify no matter how poor they are. Over 17 million women lived in poverty last year, compared to 12.6 million men.
By 2016, 13.5 million women were expected to get coverage under the Medicaid expansion. That figure is now in danger. As the Kaiser Family Foundation reported before the Supreme Court decision, “Medicaid will be the foundation of health coverage expansions to very low-income women.” But not if some Republican governors get their way.
Many of the states already rejecting the expansion are home to the greatest number of women who would benefit. Texas and Florida top the list for the most uninsured women in their states: about 2.4 million and 1.5 million, respectively, and both states plan to refuse the expansion. (Some of these women were supposed to get coverage through the Medicaid expansion, but some will still qualify for the subsidies and be able to buy insurance in the state exchanges.)
Using Kaiser’s predictions, I calculate that there are over 4.2 million women who would be eligible for the Medicaid expansion by 2014 in the states either refusing or indicating they will refuse to participate. That’s a huge chunk of the 10 million women that were expected to be covered by that time through Medicaid.
Those are the immediate impacts on low-income, uninsured women. The ruling may have other far-reaching impacts on women’s lives, however. As Jessica Mason Pieklo writes at RH Reality Check, the idea that the federal government can’t withdraw all Medicaid funds from states that don’t follow federal requirements might have other consequences. The first may be states that are trying to prevent Medicaid from contracting with providers that also offer abortions (i.e., in many cases, Planned Parenthood). Such a case is going on in Indiana right now. As Pieklo writes,
Thanks to the majority in NFIB v. Sebelius, conservative states looking to enact state-wide funding bans may have the framing necessary to pin the federal government. That’s because the language of Roberts’ opinion as to the Medicaid expansion is vague enough to argue that the federal government can’t coerce a state into funding Planned Parenthood by threatening to withhold all of that state’s federal Medicaid money, especially, since conservative states argue, they believe cutting Medicaid funds is the only way to guarantee state dollars do not fund abortion services.
Planned Parenthood and its affiliate centers provide services to 3 million people annually, including 4 million tests for sexually transmitted infections, 770,000 Pap tests, and 750,000 breast exams. Banning Medicaid from contracting with Planned Parenthood will hurt the low-income women who need these services—but states may now have a legal leg to stand on if they try to do just that.
Perhaps the worst thing of all? The excuse that Republican governors are using to get out of the Medicaid expansion may not even hold up. They claim to be worried that even though the federal government will pick up the whole tab for the first few years, the portion they’ll have to pay after that (10 percent) is too burdensome on their budgets. Yet there is evidence that expanding Medicaid could actually help their finances. Rejecting the Medicaid expansion may not even make fiscal sense, but no matter what it doesn’t make moral sense. It could leave millions of women exposed, unable to afford health insurance but not able to participate in Medicaid.
By: Bryce Covert, The Nation, July 17, 2012
Mitt Romney, so incredibly comfortable in his skin he apparently couldn’t give a damn what anyone except his radical right wing overlords think, last night in a show of true homophobic independence announced he didn’t really mean to say he is “OK” with gay couples adopting children, and he’s very sorry you misunderstood his real positions on the matter. Wait, what time is it?
“And if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, or even to adopt a child — in my state individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children,” Romney had told reporters on Thursday. “In my view, that’s something that people have a right to do. But to call that marriage is something that in my view is a departure from the real meaning of that word.”
That, as we said, was Thursday, and apparently there were… sunspots that caused a technical malfunction… or something.
Because today, in flip flop number 412, Mitt told reporters what he meant for them to have heard on Thursday is that, according to CBS News, “he simply ‘acknowledges’ the legality of such adoptions in many states.”
In other news, the Romney campaign acknowledged the legality of skeet shooting.
CBS News adds:
But then on Friday, he was asked, in an interview with CBS’ WBTV in Charlotte, N.C., how his opposition to same-sex marriage “squared” with his support for gay adoptions. Romney told anchor Paul Cameron, “Well actually I think all states but one allow gay adoption, so that’s a position which has been decided by most of the state legislators, including the one in my state some time ago. So I simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal in all states but one.”
Romney did remain consistent on one point: He said he does not intend to use President Obama’s flip flop of same-sex marriage against him in the campaign.
Of course, Romney hadn’t checked in with his radical right wing overlords, who have already decided they, er, Romney will be campaigning on President Obama’s affirmation of the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Meanwhile, gay kids continue to commit suicide, largely due to anti-gay bullying fueled and supported by the environment Republican politicians create — from Mitt Romney to Reince Priebus to Michele Bachmann to Rick Santorum, and all the way down to this school board member and this school board member.
By: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement, May 12, 2012