National Organization for Women
May 22, 2017
Republican Budget Plans Target Human Needs Programs – Progressive, women’s rights, reproductive rights, health, disability, education, child welfare, legal aid, nutrition, safety net advocacy and numerous other national organizations are coming together to engage in an historic fight to prevent Republican budget plans to decimate more than 70 federal programs that help middle- and low-income families. Their slash and burn proposals would have a disproportionately harmful impact on women and children. A major lobbying and grassroots effort over the next few months is going to be required to pushback on these draconian plans that will negatively impact a majority of Americans, result in major job losses and seriously harm the economy.
Women at the Forefront of This Fight – Speakers at a recent coalition meeting observed that women have become the backbone of the progressive movement, fighting back against the many regressive initiatives of the Trump administration and a right-wing controlled Congress. The pollster, Celinda Lake, says that 86 percent of the calls that Congress has been receiving on health care, school vouchers, environmental de-regulation, tax cuts and other urgent issues have been made by women. Emily’s List reports that 12,000 women have indicated that they are interested in running for public office. So this may be the’Year of Women Taking a Stand’ and fighting back against a return to a more unequal and unjust society.
We have Lots of Friends – The very good news is that a recent survey shows that an overwhelming majority of the public is on our side when it comes to the major women’s issues. More on that later in this Special Edition.
The Coming Crises – Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release their analysis of the House-passed replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the American Health Care Act (AHCA) – which by many accounts is even worse than the earlier GOP bill that would have meant 24 million individuals would lose their health insurance. The AHCA contains a $839 billion cut to Medicaid spending – devastating the essential component of the ACA which provides coverage to low and moderate income persons, including low income seniors. And, at the same time the GOP bill allocates billions in “savings” (money taken from health care programs under the ACA) as tax cuts for the wealthy.
Trump Budget Wields the Axe – On the following day the Trump administration’s proposed budget for FY 2018 will be released. Rumors are circulating that it will contain another $800 billion in cuts to a wide variety of social programs, including to programs serving domestic violence survivors, Social Security Disability Insurance and Social Security Supplemental Insurance, school lunches, SNAP (food stamps), meals for seniors, housing assistance, Title X – family planning, veterans’ benefits, TANF (welfare), child care block grants, aid to education programs for low-income students and many other worthy human needs programs. Another $800 billion from the Medicaid program would be cut over 10 years, carrying through on the House-passed ACA repeal.
One question is whether the various women’s offices in different agencies will be kept alive; especially important are the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice and the Office of Women’s Health at the Food and Drug Administration, the Office of Research on Women’s Health with the National Institutes of Health and the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor, recently headed by former NOW Vice President Latifa Lyles.
Trump Paid Leave Proposal Inadequate – The administration is rumored to be proposing a mandate to states to provide paid parental leave for just six weeks, but experts say that the proposal falls far short of the 12-week national standard and neglects people who need paid time-off to address their own serious health issues, and it excludes working people who care for seriously ill or injured family members and military families’ needs, among other problems.
Big Cuts, but More $ for Pentagon – At the same time, House Budget Committee members have been drafting their FY’18 bill which is reported to also contain massive cuts to social spending. They are considering slashing more than $400 billion under an expedited process that prevents Democrats from using the filibuster in the Senate. The GOP budget would increase the Pentagon’s budget and provide generous tax cuts for high income earners. Reportedly, the House Republican budget will begin the privatization process for Medicare – something that is very unpopular with the public.
Money for the Border Wall – House Budget Republicans are reported to be incorporating in their budget plan some of Donald Trump’s favored projects, such as infrastructure rebuilding, additional funding for his U.S.-Mexican border wall, more funding for Homeland Security and ICE operations to round up and deport undocumented immigrants, more funding for detention centers to hold the thousands of immigrants awaiting deportation, etc. No doubt, battered immigrant women will be left in the lurch.
Future of Medicare in Doubt – Even though Donald Trump repeatedly stated while on the campaign trail that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should not be touched, of course, this was false pledge as his proposed budget demonstrates. Trump supported both the first failed replacement of the Affordable Care Act which gutted Medicaid and now with the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) – which Trump also supported – the ACA Medicaid expansion will become a withered part of health care coverage if any bill like the AHCA becomes law. Further, Trump will likely let House Speaker Paul Ryan try to privatize Medicare – something that Ryan has been itching to do for years as a favor to big business that would rather not have to pay the matching in the payroll match taxes on worker’s salaries.
Demise of Social Security? – There is an especially alarming rumor floating around that tax reform legislation will repeal the FICA tax – hence killing the main source of dedicated funding for Social Security retirement, disability and supplemental programs that nearly everyone pays into during their working lives. The GOP will try to sell this is a “middle class tax cut” – what is, in fact, is guaranteed old age poverty for the vast majority of workers and their partners.
Now, Some Good News – Despite the fact that we have a Congress and a president who are uber-conservative and promote many anti-women’s rights policies, the public is not in agreement. A nationally representative survey of 1,300 persons taken in December found that 83 percent of respondents agreed that it was important for president-elect and Congress to move forward on women’s rights and equality. Ninety-three percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Independents agreed. Survey findings follow:
· 90 percent want strong laws to ensure equal pay for equal work
· 87 percent want to ensure that working people can get paid family and medical leave
· 89 percent want to increase access to quality, affordable childcare for working families
· 85 percent want to ensure that women have access to quality, affordable birth control
· 61 percent oppose getting rid of the part of Obamacare that expands Medicaid to cover more low-income, uninsured adults
· 63 percent want to protect women’s right to abortion
· 67 percent oppose nominating a Supreme Court justice based on their belief in restricting or eliminating women’s right to abortion
· 74 percent oppose taking away funds from Planned Parenthood that are used for birth control, well- woman care, and cancer screenings for low-income women.
Additionally, 63 percent oppose restricting access to abortion care; 55 percent oppose banning Medicaid coverage for abortion care; 67 percent want to keep the ACA provision that requires insurance plans to cover birth control without a co-pay; 87 percent want to keep the ACA provision that prohibits insurance companies from charging women more for health insurance than men based on their gender; 84 percent want to keep the ACA provision that requires insurance plan to cover preventive care, like well-woman visits; 83 percent want to keep the ACA provision that has federal funds available for states to expand Medicaid, which mostly covers women and children.
Women’s Community Principles – In advance of the Trump budget release, the women’s community and allied organizations sent a statement of their principles, as follows:
As organizations that advocate and work for the advancement and overall welfare of women and families, we join together to define a FY18 budget that in fact empowers women. At a minimum:
● The President’s budget plan must focus on improving the health of all women and families. It must adequately fund access to quality, affordable health care; evidence-based health education; research; and public health efforts. This must include enabling women to seek services from the provider of their choice, including Planned Parenthood, and for programs to be unconstrained by ideological policy riders.
● The budget must help women and families who are struggling to make ends meet and achieve economic security. This means ensuring basic living standards through financial, housing, food, health, and nutrition assistance for those struggling the most. And it means creating a strong, inclusive, responsible and sustainable paid family and medical leave plan that creates a true national standard.
● All women and families must have a fair opportunity for educational and career success. To that end, it is essential that the budget support accessible job training; educational opportunity; enforcement of critical civil rights laws that protect women and girls from discrimination; affordable, high-quality child care; and early childhood development – particularly for low-income families and in under-resourced communities.
● The budget must adequately fund efforts to prevent and address violence against all women and girls. This includes an investment in legal assistance, housing, shelters, education, research, and training.