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“GOP Strategy Won’t Fool Women”: All The Rhetoric In The World Won’t Make Up For Republicans Opposing Pro-Women Policies

If they’re going to pull out a victory in the midterm elections, Republicans need to win over women. But they’re doing everything in their power to alienate them, from pushing extreme anti-abortion measures that even most Republican voters oppose to blocking equal-pay legislation to, well, just opening their mouths. A leading Republican congressional candidate in Georgia recently said, sure, a woman can run for office if she is “within the authority of her husband.”

A report actually commissioned by Republican groups and reported in Politico found that women view the party as “intolerant” and “stuck in the past.” The report found that women are “barely receptive” to GOP policies.

In other words, Republicans are losing female voters faster than their anti-contraception policies can produce them.

What are Republicans to do? The Republican Party seems reluctant to change its actual policies to support women’s economic and reproductive choices and, ya know, generally acknowledge the realities of modern liberated women. So instead, several Republican candidates are coming out against domestic violence in an attempt to seem sensitive to us girls and our issues. That should do the trick, right?

“My ex-husband beat me with a baseball bat, threw me in a garbage can filled with snow and left me in a frozen storage locker to die,” a woman says, looking straight at the camera, in one such ad for Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin. “At that time, I was pregnant, and I lost the child I was carrying. But I fought to stay alive for my other two children, and today I am fighting for Scott Walker.”

Similar ads have been run by Steve Daines, Republican Senate candidate in Montana, and Scott Brown, Republican Senate candidate in New Hampshire.

There’s just one problem: All the rhetoric in the world doesn’t make up for Republicans opposing and obstructing pro-women policies. It’s not just the repeated attempts to crush reproductive freedom and block equal-pay legislation; Republicans also opposed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. That’s the law that was actually supposed to do something about domestic violence, a law that Republicans blocked for over a year before finally caving and allowing it to pass.

Republicans objected to provisions in the bill that would expand domestic violence protections for Native Americans and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans; they even tried to pass their own version of the bill with these protections stripped out. Ultimately, after a year of obstructionism, Republicans allowed the more expansive and bipartisan Senate version of the act to come up for a vote in the House — and even then, a majority of Republicans voted against the measure.

Fast-forward to election season. Florida Republican Steve Southerland has one of the toughest re-election fights in the country. In the House, Southerland voted against the expanded version of the Violence Against Women Act, the version that ultimately passed, but voted for the narrow Republican version that didn’t pass. Now, Southerland is running an ad featuring a survivor of domestic violence who says, “Our congressman, Steve, is advocating for things like (the) Violence Against Women Act.” Well, kinda sorta but not really, Steve.

Southerland’s opponent, Gwen Graham, had her response ad up within 24 hours, accusing Southerland of “saying one thing in TV ads, doing the opposite in Congress.” Which basically sums up all the attempts of Republicans to appeal to female voters on rhetoric but abandon them on policy.

And to be clear, equal pay and reproductive freedom are also key to preventing domestic violence. As the National Network to End Domestic Violence writes, “Like all women, survivors of domestic violence need equal pay initiatives like the Paycheck Fairness Act. As long as women are paid less than men, most survivors will have less ability to gain financial stability and independence.” Many of these women are low-wage workers, who would also be helped by raising the minimum wage.

And a new study this week finds (PDF) that as many as one in four women who seek an abortion experience violence from an intimate partner. Women often say one primary reason for seeking an abortion is to avoid exposing their children to domestic violence. Another reason: They don’t want to remain tied to an abusive partner. According to this long-term study, when these women are able to access abortion services, their odds of being abused decrease by 7% each month after — while women who can’t get an abortion see their rates of domestic violence remain the same or even increase.

Reproductive choice, including abortion rights, and wage equity, including raising the minimum wage and passing gender-equity legislation, are key not only for all women and their families but for victims and survivors of domestic violence, for whom economic and reproductive freedom translates directly into freedom from abuse.

The Republican Party has do more than just talk about domestic violence and women’s opportunity and actually support the real policies that support women’s freedom and choices — or otherwise, women will keep choosing to vote for Democrats.

 

By: Sally Kohn, CNN Opinion, October 9, 2014

October 12, 2014 Posted by | Reproductive Choice, Republicans, War On Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Good Poor, Bad Poor”: Where You Stand Depends On Where You Sit

On Sundays, this time of year, my parents would pack a gaggle of us kids into the station wagon for a tour of two Christmas worlds. First, we’d go to the wealthy neighborhoods on a hill — grand Tudor houses glowing with the seasonal incandescence of good fortune. Faces pressed against the car windows, we wondered why their Santa was a better toy-maker than ours.

Then, down to the valley, where sketchy-looking people lived in vans by the river, in plywood shacks with rusted appliances on the front lawn, their laundry frozen stiff on wire lines. The rich, my mother explained, were lucky. The poor were unfortunate.

Dissenting voices rose from the back seat. But didn’t the poor deserve their fate? Didn’t they make bad decisions? Weren’t some of them just moochers? And lazy? Well, yes, in many cases, my mother said, lighting one of her L&M cigarettes, which she bought by the carton at the Indian reservation. But neither rich nor poor had the moral high ground.

As the year ends, this argument is playing out in two of the most meanspirited actions left on the table by the least-productive Congress in modern history. The House, refuge of the shrunken-heart caucus, has passed a measure to eliminate food aid for four million Americans, starting next year. Many who would remain on the old food stamp program may have to pass a drug test to get their groceries. At the same time, Congress has let unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million people, beginning just a few days after Christmas.

These actions have nothing to do with bringing federal spending into line, and everything to do with a view that poor people are morally inferior. Here’s a sample of this line of thought:

“The explosion of food stamps in this country is not just a fiscal issue for me,” said Representative Steve Southerland, Republican from Florida, chief crusader for cutting assistance to the poor. “This is a defining moral issue of our time.”

It would be a “disservice” to further extend unemployment assistance to those who’ve been out of work for some time, said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. It encourages them to sit at home and do nothing.

“People who are perfectly capable of working are buying things like beer,” said Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, on those getting food assistance in his state.

No doubt, poor people drink beer, watch too much television and have bad morals. But so do rich people. If you drug-tested members of Congress as a condition of their getting federal paychecks, you would have most likely caught Representative Trey Radel, Republican of Florida, who recently pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine. Would it be Grinch-like of me to point out that this same congressman voted for the bill that would force many hungry people to pee in a cup and pass a drug test before getting food? Should I also mention that the median net worth for new members of the current Congress is exactly $1 million more than that of the typical American household — and that that may influence their view?

For the record, the baseline benefit for those getting help under the old food stamp program works out to $1.40 a meal. And the average check for those on emergency unemployment is $300 a week. If you cut them off cold, the argument goes, these desperate folks would soon find a job and put real food on the table. They are poor because they are weak.

I met a wheat farmer not long ago in Montana whose family operation was getting nearly $300,000 a year in federal subsidies. With his crop in, this wealthy farmer was looking forward to spending a month in Hawaii. No one suggested that he pass a drug test to continue receiving his sizable handout, or that he be cut off cold, and encouraged to grow something that taxpayers wouldn’t have to subsidize.

One person deserves the handout, the other does not. But these distinctions are colored by your circumstances — where you stand depends on where you sit.

When a million Irish died during the Great Famine of the 1850s, many in the English aristocracy said the peasants deserved to starve because their families were too big and indolent. The British baronet overseeing food relief felt that the famine was God’s judgment, and an excellent way to get rid of surplus population. His argument on relief was the same one used by Rand Paul.

“The only way to prevent the people from becoming habitually dependent on government is to bring the operation to a close,” Sir Charles Trevelyan said about the relief plan at a time when thousands of Irish a day were dropping dead from hunger.

This week, Mayor Mike Bloomberg tried not to sound like a plutocrat out of Dickens when asked about the homeless girl, Dasani, at the center of Andrea Elliott’s extraordinary series in The New York Times — a Dickensian tale for the modern age.

“The kid was dealt a bad hand,” Bloomberg said. “I don’t know why. That’s just the way God works. Sometimes some of us are lucky, and some of us are not.”

And in that, he echoed my mother at Christmas. Luck is the residue of design, as the saying has it. But the most careful lives can be derailed — by cancer, a huge medical bill, a freak slap of weather, a massive failure of the potato crop. Virtue cannot prevent a “bad hand” from being dealt. And making the poor out to be lazy, or dependent, or stupid, does not make them less poor. It only makes the person saying such a thing feel superior.

By: Timothy Egan, Contributing Op-Ed Writer, The New York Times, December 19, 2013

December 23, 2013 Posted by | Poverty | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Congress Reinterprets Jesus”: Serve Banksters Or Serve The Poor?

Thank God for Congress, right? When things get out of balance in America, we can always count on our legislative stalwarts to recalibrate the scales of justice.

Take greed, for example. The barons of Wall Street, whose raw greed and casino scams wrecked our real economy five years ago, are back to shoving great gobs of bonus pay into their pockets. Meanwhile, the middle class remains decimated, and millions of workaday Americans who were knocked all the way down into poverty are still stuck there. In this nation of fabulous wealth, our poverty numbers are shocking and scandalous: 50 million people are officially poor; another 51 million are “near poor.” A third of our country!

You’ll be pleased to know, then, that only last week, U.S. House members turned their legislative guns on the greed that’s sapping the moral vitality of our society. Unfortunately, their aim was a bit off. Instead of popping the privileged, they hit the most unprivileged: families who need food stamps to make ends meet.

The food stamp program is out of control, they shrieked, noting that it’s been expanding even as the unemployment rate has been coming down. Yoo-hoo, knuckleheads, the jobless rate has ticked down largely because job-seekers have become so discouraged by the absence of opportunities that they’ve quit looking. Plus, getting a job no longer gets you out of poverty — just ask the barista who’s making your next latte about the joys of working for poverty pay. Food stamp rolls have reached record numbers, because — guess what? — there are record numbers of Americans in poverty!

Yet, the House called for cutting some $2 billion a year (and 2 million Americans) out of the program. On June 20, however, the members balked — not because the cut was too severe, but because it was not enough for Tea Party Republicans, who have been demanding a total food stamp gut job, proposing to slash the program by $25 billion a year.

Also, the GOP majority lost the votes of nearly all Democrats by adding a couple of fiendish amendments to punish poor people for the crime of being poor. One was to put additional work requirements on families seeking the food benefit. “We cannot continue to deny able-bodied people the dignity of work,” blathered a worked-up know-nothing named Steve Southerland of Florida. Then, Rep. Michele Bachmann had a tempest in her teapot of a brain, offering her support of Southerland’s amendment in a sort of Biblical falsetto: “If anyone will not work, neither should he eat.”

Hello, Michele — that’s not exactly in keeping with the moral message of the Biblical Jesus. Nor is it in keeping with reality — today’s poverty does not stem from any unwillingness to work. Indeed, millions of food stamp recipients are working, but not being paid enough to put adequate groceries on the family table. And many more are in desperate search for jobs that aren’t there.

In fairness, though, let me note that House Republicans did try to give hard-hit families something extra in this legislation: drug testing. Following in lockstep with the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council — which has been peddling this vile, insulting slap at poor people all around the country — the House majority added a urine-test provision to its bill. That really puts the mean in “demeaning” — and this from small-government poseurs who piously decry government intrusion into people’s lives!

Once again, the Tea Party congresscritters should have used their ever-present Bibles for instruction, rather than just for thumping. They would’ve learned that Jesus, at the Sea of Galilee, distributed free fish and loaves to everyone there — with no pee-in-the-cup requirement. And if he had wanted to test whether anyone was on drugs, he would’ve passed cups to bankers first, then to lawmakers.

A society’s response to poverty is one measure that speaks directly to its essential character. In particular, a wealthy society’s nonchalant tolerance of poverty in its midst, the willingness of that society’s leaders to disregard the spread of poverty and the callous calculations by some that it is permissible and even profitable to denigrate those mired in poverty — these are three flashing indicators of a meltdown in our society’s moral core.

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, June 26, 2013

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Congress | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Growing Opposition”: More GOP Lawmakers Balk At Chained CPI

At least officially, the White House’s offer for some kind of grand debt-reduction deal is still on the table. To the chagrin of the left, President Obama is prepared to accept the “reforms” Republicans asked for in social-insurance programs, in exchange for concessions on tax revenue.

GOP lawmakers, true to form, continue to reject the idea of compromise, and to date, have not pointed to any concessions they’re willing to even entertain. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) acknowledged yesterday what everyone already knew — there will be no deal.

But of particular interest is the growing Republican opposition to the one thing they said they really wanted as part of a possible compromise.

Two House Republicans have told constituents they oppose proposed cuts to Social Security and veterans benefits by reducing the cost of living adjustment, according to letters they sent to constituents. President Barack Obama included the plan, known as chained CPI, in his annual budget, but specified that he was only offering it as a concession to entice Republicans into a compromise. For Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), however, the concession is itself objectionable.

Note, we’re not just talking about two random House Republicans. Immediately after Obama said he’s willing to give GOP lawmakers what they asked for, when Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee who’ll oversee his party’s 2014 midterm efforts, accused President Obama of waging “a shocking attack on seniors.”

Then Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) said he’s “not a fan” of the policy. Rep. James Lankford (Okla.), the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, called chained CPI “draconian.” Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) said of the policy, “It’s not my plan… This is the president’s plan.” Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), a House Ways and Means Committee member, added, “I’m very sensitive to the fact that you’re impacting current seniors in particular. It’s something I’m very hesitant to jump up and down and support.”

Let’s be clear about the chain of events:

1. Congressional Republicans demand that the White House put chained CPI on the table as part of budget talks.

2. President Obama reluctantly agrees to put chained CPI on the table as part of budget talks.

3. Congressional Republicans criticize the chained CPI policy they said they wanted.

To reiterate a point from a month ago, it’s only fair to mention that plenty of congressional Republicans, including members of the GOP leadership, have welcomed Obama’s offer — while refusing to point to any comparable concessions they’d accept, of course — so this isn’t a party-wide phenomenon.

But we’re well past the point of Greg Walden acting as a solo hack, condemning a policy he supports because he thinks it might boost the GOP in the 2014 midterms. There’s a sizable contingent of congressional Republicans who have publicly criticized the exact same policy congressional Republicans said they wanted Obama to accept.

Shouldn’t that affect the larger discussion rather dramatically?

Remember, the White House doesn’t actually like chained-CPI. Obama freely admits he doesn’t want this policy, and only offered it because Republicans are such enthusiastic supporters of the idea. From the president’s perspective, he and his team are going to have to tolerate some measures they don’t like if there’s going to be a bipartisan compromise in which both sides accept concessions they would otherwise reject.

But that was before GOP lawmakers called this policy — the one Republicans demanded — a “shocking attack on seniors” and a “draconian” policy.

So, given all of this, can someone remind me what’s stopping the president from simply walking away from the idea he doesn’t like anyway? At this point, Obama could hardly be blamed for declaring, “I thought Republicans wanted this policy, but if they consider this a draconian attack on seniors that they cannot support, I’ll gladly drop the idea and we discuss something else.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 8, 2013

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Politics, Social Security | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Balking At Their Own Ideas”: The GOP Offers President Obama A Chained-CPI Off-Ramp

When Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee who’ll oversee his party’s 2014 midterm efforts, accused President Obama of waging “a shocking attack on seniors,” it took an enormous amount of chutzpah. At issue, of course, is a controversial proposal to change the way Social Security is indexed — the “chained-CPI” policy — that the White House does not like, but which Obama offered as a concession to congressional Republicans who demanded it.

In effect, Walden was condemning the president for his own party’s proposal. A day later, House Speaker John Boehner, one of the officials who demanded Obama put chained-CPI on the table, subtly rebuked Walden’s craven criticism.

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Walden isn’t alone. Last week, Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) said he’s “not a fan” of the policy, and soon after, they had some company.

“The president is trying to say this draconian thing that no one likes is the Republicans’ fault,” Rep. James Lankford (Okla.), the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, told reporters on Friday.

“It’s not my plan,” Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) said about chained CPI. “This is the president’s plan.”

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), a House Ways and Means Committee member, added, “I’m very sensitive to the fact that you’re impacting current seniors in particular. It’s something I’m very hesitant to jump up and down and support.”

The word “bullpucky” keeps coming to mind.

Yes, plenty of congressional Republicans, including members of the GOP leadership, have welcomed Obama’s offer — while refusing to point to any comparable concessions they’d accept, of course — so this isn’t a party-wide phenomenon.

But the larger point is that having even some congressional Republicans balk at their own idea offers the president an opportunity.

Remember, the White House doesn’t actually like chained-CPI. Obama freely admits he doesn’t want this policy, and only offered it because Republicans are such enthusiastic supporters of the idea. From the president’s perspective, he and his team are going to have to tolerate some measures they don’t like if there’s going to be a bipartisan compromise in which both sides accept concessions they would otherwise reject.

But over the course of just a few days, GOP lawmakers have called this policy — the one Republicans demanded — a “shocking attack on seniors,” a “draconian” policy, “the president’s plan.”

It is, of course, painfully absurd for the right to criticize Obama for doing exactly what Republicans asked him to do, but therein lies the point: there’s nothing stopping the president from simply walking away from the idea if the GOP has suddenly discovered they dislike their own proposal.

As I mentioned briefly last week, Obama, who doesn’t like chained-CPI anyway and realized his own party is furious, could credibly declare right now, “I thought Republicans wanted this policy. But if they consider this ‘a shocking attack on seniors,’ I’ll gladly drop the idea.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 15, 2013

April 16, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Social Security | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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