Sunday, May 12, 2013

How Would You Feel If Someone Wrote, "We Need Fewer Women In Congress?"

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Women make up just about 51% of the population. Women hold 98, or 18.3%, of the 535 seats in the 113th US Congress-- 20, or 20.0%, of the 100 seats in the Senate and 78, or 17.9%, of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. So, objectively, you would have to be an idiot to not see that there is a real need to elect more women to Congress-- as well as to elect a woman president and more women throughout the government. But not bad ones. Replacing, for example, a progressive senator like Brian Schatz with a more conservative woman, Colleen Hanabusa-- who's record even on women's health issues isn't nearly as good as Schatz's-- is doing anyone any good, except making the percentages look better.

Yesterday Nancy Pelosi, who was the first female Speaker of the House-- as well as one of the best speakers in history and certainly the best Speaker in recent times-- was on Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC show talking about the need for more women in Congress. I doubt she has women like Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Martha Roby (R-AL) in mind. These women work actively against policies are in the best interests of women who don't happen to be in the top 1% of income earners. I'm certain what Pelosi wants to see more women like this elected. More women like Barbara Lee (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Donna Edwards (D-IL)...

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm in the middle of reading Rana Husseini's classic book on women's activism in the Middle East, Murder in the Name of Honour. Conservatives in Jordan-- like conservatives everyone and throughout time-- have fought long and hard to keep women from achieving any sense of equality. I'll get into the psychological infirmities the conservatives suffer when I discuss Husseini's book in greater detail. But I do want to point out a Parliament Deputy Mahmoud Kharabsheh insisting that brothers have the right to murder their sisters if they suspect the sisters are bringing "dishonor" to the family-- like by being the victim of rape. He adamantly opposed an initiative to overturn a law that permits this, claiming "the control over women prevents sexual diseases and mixed paternity." He claimed he wanted women to be protected, respected and afforded dignity, but added, "Jordan is still a male-dominated society and men are more capable than women are. Women have not developed themselves yet; they are not experienced enough, having not held high positions in authority as men have." Now there's a self-fulfilling prophesy of the universal conservative mind-- even if you believe that the only thing men are more capable of them women in pleasuring their own puds.

Let's forget for a moment that Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is the chair of the House Tea Party caucus, an anti-Choice fanatic and one of the most viciously anti-LGBT Members of Congress and let's make believe she's just a normal conservative congresswoman. Can you call her desire to shred the social safety net "anti-woman?" She doesn't just want to privatize Social Security and wreck Medicaid, she wants to ween everybody off Social Security and Medicare. Lee Fang recorded her in 2010 addressing a conservative group in St. Louis using fake Glenn Beck stats as the justification for ending Social Security.
Is the country too big to fail? No, the country can fail. We can, we’re not invincible. And we’re so close now to being at that point because the thing is, as Glenn Beck said last night, it is true. The $107 trillion that he put on the board. We’re $14 trillion in debt, but that doesn’t include the unfunded massive liabilities. That’s $107 trillion, and that’s for Social Security and Medicare and all the rest. You add up all those unfunded net liabilities, and all the traps that could go wrong we’re on the hook for, and what it means is what we have to do is a reorganization of all of that, Social Security and all. We have to do it simply because we can’t let the contract remain as they are because the older people are going to lose. So, what you have to do, is keep faith with the people that are already in the system, that don’t have any other options, we have to keep faith with them. But basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off. And wean everybody off because we have to take those unfunded net liabilities off our bank sheet, we can’t do it. So we just have to be straight with people. So basically, whoever our nominee is, is going to have to have a Glenn Beck chalkboard and explain to everybody this is the way it is.
Is that anti-woman? Well... not anti-rich women. This comes from the Social Security Administration:
With longer life expectancies than men, elderly women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. They benefit from Social Security's cost-of-living protections because benefits are annually adjusted for inflation.
* Women reaching age 65 in 2011 are expected to live, on average, an additional 20.7 years compared with 18.7 years for men.
* Women represent 56 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and approximately 68 percent of beneficiaries age 85 and older.

The Social Security system is progressive in that lower-wage earners receive a higher percentage benefit than higher-wage earners do. The system returns a greater percentage of pre-retirement earnings to a lower-wage worker than to a higher-wage worker. Women who are low-wage workers receive back more benefits in relation to past earnings than do high-wage earners.
* In 2011, the median earnings of working-age women who worked full-time, year-round were $36,500, compared to $48,000 for men.

In 2011, the average annual Social Security income received by women 65 years and older was $12,188, compared to $15,795 for men. Social Security provides dependent benefits to spouses, divorced spouses, elderly widows, and widows with young children.

In 2011, for unmarried women-- including widows-- age 65 and older, Social Security comprises 50 percent of their total income. In contrast, Social Security benefits comprise only 36 percent of unmarried elderly men's income and only 31 percent of elderly couples' income.

In 2011, 48 percent of all elderly unmarried females receiving Social Security benefits relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.

Elderly women are less likely than elderly men to have significant family income from pensions other than Social Security. In 2010, only 22.6 percent of unmarried women aged 65 or older were receiving their own private pensions (either as a retired worker or survivor), compared to 27.3 percent of unmarried men.
* Participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans is increasing for women in today's workforce. In 2011, 55.2 percent of women employed full-time participated in an employer-sponsored public and private sector plan compared to 52.5 percent of men. Women generally receive lower pension benefits due to their relatively lower earnings.
Sure, Pelosi wants to see more women in Congress, but I bet she'll be supporting Jim Graves when he runs against Bachmann next year. Last week, Graves, a successful businessman with a clear middle-American perspective, told me he's focused on "fixing" Social Security. His plan is very different from what Bachmann says and in contrast to Bachmann's voting record. "Let’s be clear," he began, "in that Social Security is an earned benefit that hard working Americans have paid into over the life of their working careers-- they’ve earned it, it’s not an entitlement."

Here are some of the specific ways he feels we can bolster and strengthen Social Security:

1. Let’s broaden the contribution base to all income. Why should rich folks that get their incomes from “carried interest,” “preferred dividends, and all forms of unearned income not pay into the pool? Hard working folks that get their income through a payroll should not carry the entire burden.

2. Adjust the income cap from $113,700 to a sustainable level. By expanding the tax base to all personal income (earned and unearned), the income cap should be adjusted to an amount needed to keep the Social Security Trust Fund solvent for a projected 75 year period. The average folks in my district make about $50,000 per year, so they are paying in on 100% of their incomes. All the while those with massive amounts of unearned income pay little if any into the fund.

...What we do not want to do is privatize Social Security that only defeats the purpose of the program. Social Security is to protect and provide a safety net for our seniors when they get to an age that they should be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Privatizing the program is great for the rich, but it destroys the program for those that most need it. The entire reason that Social Security works is that it creates a pool for the social good-- it averages the risk over a larger demographic. And we definitely do not want to move the retirement age up from 65 years like Bachmann and Ryan would like to do. If you worked your entire life laying bricks, hoisting boxes, building houses…your back is sore and body is tired.

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2 Comments:

At 11:33 PM, Blogger Suzan said...

You know it's almost funny that even though many of the wealthy denigrate Social Security and Medicare as "entitlements" for the poor, they never turn it down if they live much past their 70's.

Someone should obtain these statistics and publicize them as I'll bet it'll open a few minds.

And mouths.

Thanks for your illuminating blog!

Love you,

S

 
At 8:08 PM, Blogger Kim Kaufman said...

Well, if you care about Social Security -- and I know you do -- we've got to replace Henry Waxman: "Henry Waxman will support Chained CPI in trade for “things we want” http://americablog.com/2013/05/henry-waxman-will-support-chained-cpi-in-trade-for-things-we-want.html

 

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