Friday, June 29, 2012


The Court's cramped view of Medicaid expansion means that low income people will bear the individual mandate 'tax' disproportionately. Upholding the requirement that individuals buy private insurance while allowing states to opt out of Medicaid expansion is the worst possible outcome. Achieving universal coverage by compelling low income Americans to purchase private insurance will protect health industry profits at the expense of people most in need of health care for all.

The precise consequence of the Court's ruling on Medicaid expansion is not yet knowable, as states have the right to accept the federal terms of expansion.  States that do accept Medicaid expansion will cover people whose incomes fall below 133% of the poverty line, including people who are categorically excluded under most state Medicaid programs today -- individual adults between age 19 and 65.

But as 26 states challenged the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act,  it is reasonable to anticipate that some states will opt out the Medicaid expansion program now that they have the right to do so.  HALF of the 32 million people the Affordable Care Act promised would achieve health care coverage were slated to secure their coverage through expanded Medicaid. A sizeable subset of the 16 million who would have been covered under expanded Medicaid may be opted out by their states, depending on where they live.  This pulls the legs off the structure of "universal coverage" under the Affordable Care Act, leaving economically vulnerable people, disproportionately of color, out in the cold world of medical impoverishment.

In the worst case, 16 million low wage workers who do not have health insurance where they work will be forced into the health care exchanges where they must obey the individual mandate to buy insurance.  A system of hardship exemptions and graduated, income-based subsidies and rebates will attenuate some of the economic burden that befalls low income American -- assuming the subsidies are fully funded and that the current funding formula stands.  But this won't mitigate the fact that the currently uninsured -- overwhelmingly because they cannot afford insurance -- will be the most vulnerable, unequal participants in the new system.

For a critical consideration of the inequality effects of the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision, see:

For a discussion of the attitudes of states toward Medicaid expansion, see:

For a general review of the Obamacare decision, see:

For an example of how the health insurance subsidies will be calculated, see:

Friday, June 22, 2012


Title IX was enacted as part of the Education Act Amendments of 1972.  Its promise was simply this:  educational institutions, programs, or activities that receive federal funds may not discriminate on the basis of sex.  The promise applies to all levels of education, from elementary schools to undergraduate colleges, professional schools, and vocational programs.
Enactment of Title IX was one of the first policy victories of the 2nd wave women’s movement, and as such was the focus of controversy.  The Washington Post and New York Times opposed it in editorials; college presidents decried it; college football coaches demeaned it; and many members of Congress tried to figure out ways to weaken it.
The attack on Title IX intensified soon after it became law. The loudest assault came from the male athletics lobby – the NCAA, and legions of college football fans.  Although Title IX was not enacted with women’s athletics primarily in mind, the male sports establishment certainly predicted correctly that under Title IX, women would flourish as athletes.
Despite their fierce efforts, naysayers lost their legislative battle to undermine Title IX by limiting its scope.  As a result, educational opportunities for girls and women expanded exponentially, dramatically opening up whole fields of endeavor.
The most obvious barriers to women's full and equal educational opportunites began to disappear with Title IX's passage. But Title IX's champions knew that inequalities run deep, permeating school practices and peer cultures. Title IX advocates anticipated that the road to full equality would be slow going and that navigating that road successfully would require never-ending vigilance to ensure that implementing regulations are not diluted, that compliance is robust, and that girls and women throughout the educational process know their rights and remedies.
The history of Title IX over forty years is really the story of millions of bold and resilient girls and women who have enforced Title IX by their actions -- by resisting exclusion; demanding fairness; exposing sexual harassment; and challenging educational institutions to change because of the contributions of women.
So, kudos --  and thank you -- to everyone who has dared to struggle for equality. Title IX will continue to be important only if it continues to advance that struggle. Going forward, we must all hone Title IX to pierce and transform the culture of educational institutions, to dispel stereotypes that impede women's incorporation on equal footing, and to undermine the gross disparities in money and other resources that make it difficult for many girls and women to pursue the opportunities that Title IX assures.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


For at least twenty years, low income mothers and their allies have urged lawmakers to recognize caregiving for one's own children as WORK.  If adopted, this principle would vastly improve low income mothers' access to and treatment within important safety net programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.  Urge your Member of Congress to sign on to this essential legislation!

Stark Introduces Bill to Recognize Low-Income Mothers' Care for Their Young Children as Work
Romney was Right: "All Moms Are Working Moms;" Our Laws
Should Reflect This Fact

WASHINGTON -- Today, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) introduced the Women's Option to Raise Kids Act (WORK Act), H.R. 4379, which would recognize that all parents who stay home to raise young children are, in fact, doing important and legitimate work. Original cosponsors of the WORK Act include Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Laura Richardson (D-CA).

Rep. Stark: "Mitt Romney was for ObamaCare before he was against it. Then, he was for forcing low-income mothers into the workforce before he decided 'all moms are working moms'."

"I think we should take Mr. Romney at his most recent word and change our federal laws to recognize the importance and legitimacy of raising young children. That's why I've introduced the WORK Act to provide low-income parents the option of staying home to raise young children without being pushed into poverty."

Why we need the WORK Act:
Current law does not count low-income stay-at-home parents who are raising young children as meeting the necessary Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work requirement. Current law also bans states from counting these individuals toward that state's work participation rate, which can result in financial penalties if not met.  This effectively bars low-income parents who choose to stay home to raise their young children from access to the financial support of TANF.

As reported by the New York Times and others, the TANF program has been particularly unresponsive during the economic downturn (see this chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).  Today, TANF is only serving 27% of families living in poverty, compared to 68% when the program was enacted to great acclaim in 1996.  The result is that more children are being pushed deeper into poverty and destitution.  Congress needs to start fixing this problem to ensure that low-income families have access to needed assistance. The WORK Act is an important step in that direction.
What the WORK Act does:
The WORK Act would amend TANF law to recognize the critical job of raising children age three or younger as work. Under the legislation, low-income parents could work, receive job training, search for work, or raise their children until they are school-aged without fear of losing TANF support and being pushed deeper into poverty. This is the same option that wealthy families, such as the Romneys, enjoy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Today is Equal Pay Day. For women in general to earn what men earned last year, they'd have to work 3.5 extra months.

Here are some facts about the wage gap and its consequences:

*  Overall, women earn 77cents on the male dollar. Black women earn just 62cents and Latinas only 53cents to every dollar men earn.

*  Lifetime wage gap = $720,000 less pay for women high school graduates; $1.2 million less for women college graduates; $2 million less for women professional school graduates.

* Most recent data show median earnings for women were $36,931 compared to $47,715 for men.

*  College-educated women earn 5% less than male peers the 1st yr out of school. After 10 yrs, they earn 12 percent less.

*  For Latinas with a BA in 2009, the mean yearly pay was $39,566 -- that's $31,720 less than white men.

*  The wage gap goes up with age. Women age 25-29 have yearly wage gap of $1,702. In the last five years of employment before retirement, the yearly gap jumps to $14,352.

*  The wage gap is bigger for single women. Single women earn only 57 cents for every dollar that married males earn.

 *  Women's lower earnings lead to a higher poverty rate for single mothers. 50% of single mothers have an income of less than $25,000/yr.

*   17.2 million women lived in poverty in 2010.  25% of Latinas and 24.6% of Black women were poor as compared to 14.5% of women overall.

*  In 2010 Latina & Black single mothers poverty rates were 50.3%and 47.1%, vs 15.1% for the population as a whole. The poverty rate for female-headed families w/kids was 40.7% overall.

*  Mothers earn 7% less per child than childless women.

*  50% of single mothers have an income of less than $25,000/yr.

*  The poverty rate for single mother families is 3X that of other families.

*   3/4 of homeless families are single mother families.

*   Wage gap produces a wealth gap. The median wealth of white single moms w/kids under 18 is $6,000. Latina & Black single mothers have median wealth of $0.

*   At current rate of progress it will take 45 yrs to close gender wage gap.  How long will it take to End Poverty?