Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Women's Issues and Voices Need to Be At the Table in Budget Talks

Low-income women have been invisible in budget deliberations thus far – yet they will be injured disproportionately by cuts to income programs like Social Security and TANF, as well by cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Food Stamps.
Despite the prolonged recession, income assistance to low-income families has shriveled over the past decade, providing help to less than 40% of families who meet TANF criteria and to an even smaller fraction (27%) of all families in actual need.  For those who do receive benefits, the cash value has eroded so badly that TANF cash assistance does not bring a family up to the poverty line in any state. 
For low-income women and families who have fallen through the shredded TANF safety net, Food Stamps are a lifeline. But the Budget passed by the House in April slashes Food Stamps by 20% and caps spending. This would reduce the availability of Food Stamps to less than 40% of families who are eligible to receive it.

Efforts to weaken and roll back Social Security put low-income older women – especially older single women – at similar risk of economic insecurity. After a lifetime of low and unequal wages, half of all older women rely on Social Security for at least 80% of their incomes. For older single women – divorced, widowed, and never-married – the poverty rate is 20%.   Without Social Security, the poverty rate would be even higher.  Without Social Security, some 58 percent of all women over age 75 would be living in poverty. 

The economic precariousness of life in a shredded safety net needs to be a core consideration in deliberations to reduce the deficit.  Women need to be at the table and in the conversation to foreground and challenge budget decisions that will make low-income women even more economically vulnerable .

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Support Salon Workers Struggle for Workplace and Reproductive Justice

Every day, thousands of nail technicians and hair stylists risk their health in order to beautify their customers. Cosmetic products contain chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental harm, hormone disruption, and other health impacts, yet these products are allowed on to the market without any safety assessments. Join the National Healthy Nail Salon Alliance in asking your Congressmember to sign onto the Safe Cosmetics Act. For more information see: National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum

Monday, May 9, 2011

Unbecoming America

In the past week I've heard the President proudly report that the US killed an unarmed, if wicked, man (5/1 announcement); I've watched grown ups turn into frat boys and cheerleaders, celebrating the killing of the wicked, but unarmed, dead man (all week); and I've heard the President tell "anyone" who has qualms about the Kill Mission to "have their head examined" (5/8, 60 Minutes).

I've watched the mainstream media downplay the fact that the official story changed each day, each change making it more clear that the US either executed or assassinated the target.  The mainstream media seemed to forgive the shifting facts -- some reporters called it "normal" for official reports to be inaccurate.

I've heard people say that the stealth killing of Bin Laden was more efficient and cheaper than trying him, because he was widely reviled as a bad guy. I think it's this claim that most sticks in my craw.

The actions and the discourse of the past week raise all kinds of questions and are laden with implications -- about the constitution, the conduct of foreign and military policy, the integrity of alliances, and about ends justifying means.  All questions should be discussed and the possibility that sane Americans can disagree ought to be the value that guides the discussion.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Domestic Spending Accounts for only 15% of Deficit Problem

From the Washington Post, 4/30/11:

"Polls show that a large majority of Americans blame wasteful or unnecessary federal programs for the nation’s budget problems. But routine increases in defense and domestic spending account for only about 15 percent of the financial deterioration, according to a new analysis of CBO data.

The biggest culprit, by far, has been an erosion of tax revenue triggered largely by two recessions and multiple rounds of tax cuts. Together, the economy and the tax bills enacted under former president George W. Bush, and to a lesser extent by President Obama, wiped out $6.3 trillion in anticipated revenue. That’s nearly half of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt. Federal tax collections now stand at their lowest level as a percentage of the economy in 60 years."

See full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/running-in-the-red-how-the-us-on-the-road-to-surplus-detoured-to-massive-debt/2011/04/28/AFFU7rNF_story.html