The Republican War Against Women

The Wall Street Journal wants us to know that Republicans can win the War Against Women. Seriously. I like this headline so much I screen captured it before some dweeb at WSJ wakes up and realizes what it says —

Anyway, WSJ thinks Romney should let the world know how Democratic policies are hurting women:

Rarely noted in the “women’s” debate is that most of this country’s major institutions and laws were developed at a time of one-earner households. In 1950, only 12% of mothers with children under the age of six were in the labor force. That number is today more than 60%. Yet many women who now work are penalized by outdated policies that haven’t kept pace with these big shifts in American society.

Exhibit A is a progressive tax code and the penalty it imposes on earning marginal, or additional, income. Most married women are second earners. That means their income is added to that of their husband’s and thus often taxed at a high marginal rate. This “marriage penalty” has never fully been adjusted for in the tax code. A married woman working on an assembly line keeps less of her paycheck than the unwed man who does the same job. That’s real inequality in pay for women.

You won’t hear Democrats admitting this punitive tax burden—particularly when combined with child-care costs—is a reason many women can’t afford to work, even if they wish to.

I’ve never heard the “marriage tax” described this way, but let’s go on — in all my years I’ve never heard a woman complain that taxes are keeping her from pursing her career. Have you?

And now we come to it …

And the expiration of the Bush tax cuts would compound this problem. To the extent Mr. Romney is offering a flatter tax code, with lower marginal rates, he is offering millions of women greater choice and a shot at more economic freedom.

That goes beyond merely off the wall or out of touch; that’s downright depraved. Any woman wealthy enough to benefit from the bleeping Bush tax cuts has plenty of options to work or not to work as she pleases. And if she does work, it probably won’t be a the cash register of the local Piggly Wiggly for minimum wage.

Here’s a campaign issue I really do want Romney to run on:

Mr. Romney might note the damage done to women by antiquated but still operative labor law, such as a provision in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that requires hourly workers who put in more than 40 hours a week to get overtime.

Please, Mittens, add that to your speeches. Please.

While some women like overtime, a 1990s poll found that 81% said they’d rather pack more hours into fewer days and receive compensatory time off. The phrase for this is “flex time,” an invaluable option for many mothers attempting to juggle work and family. Not in this Democratic war.

“Flex time” and overtime pay are two different issues. In the real world, the only thing keeping many women hourly workers from being forced to work more than a 40-hour-week is the overtime pay requirement. Without it, they’d be in the same boat as many salaried workers, being expected to tack additional time onto the workday with no additional compensation, including time off. In all my years of working I had only one job that gave comp time, and that was when our business travels ate up a weekend. And I was on salary.

The idea behind “flex time” is not fewer hours, but the ability to start and end the workday at something other than 9 to 5, like maybe 8:30 to 4:30. Assuming one is working hourly, of course. For salaried workers that would be more like 8:30 to 7:00.

Government creates myriad roadblocks for women’s economic progress, but Republicans largely have failed to make that case. They’ve instead let themselves be dragged into the tired debate over “equal pay” and “women’s rights” and “gender equality.”

Oh yes, so tired.

Democrats love competing on these terms because it allows them to argue that the remedy always lies with more government, no matter the adverse consequences.

Instead, we should eliminate all employment and workplace regulations and live at the tender mercies of our employers? Oh, yes, run on that, Mittens. It’s the message the nation is waiting to hear.

It’s no accident that the first piece of legislation Mr. Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Purporting to snuff out wage discrimination, this is mostly a litigation bonanza for trial lawyers.

Yes, Mittens, run against Lilly Ledbetter. You know you want to. Lilly wants you to.

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Now, let’s go back to what I linked to in the last post. I’m just going to repeat this:

Sara Mead:

One of the distasteful things about the tendency to label all sorts of debates or initiatives as “wars” is that in real wars, people die. But the reality is that a shockingly high number of American moms are dying for preventable reasons. The U.S. Maternal Mortality Ratio (the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is shockingly high, well above the average for the developed world, and higher than virtually all of Western Europe as well as some countries in Asia and the Middle East. Even more troubling, U.S. maternal mortality has increased in the last two decades, and is now more than twice as high as it was in the late 1980s. The Affordable Care Act included provisions designed to help stop this scary trend—not just by expanding health care access (many maternal deaths could be prevented with proper care)—but also through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, created as part of ACA, which provides nurses and social workers to work with high-risk moms, starting before they give birth, to help them have healthy pregnancies and deliveries and support their babies’ health and development after birth.The program is modeled after programs, such as the Nurse Family Partnership that have a strong track record of improving maternal and child outcomes, preventing abuse and neglect, increasing fathers’ involvement in their kids’ lives, improving kids’ school performance, reducing crime, and saving the taxpayers a boatload of money over the long term. But all that could go the way of the dodo, if ACA is struck down or repealed (and some of the right wing fear-mongering about this program must be seen to be believed).

For all we hear about “family friendly” conservatives promoting traditional families to keep us from going the way of G-d-forsaken Europe, the reality is that the U.S. actually has a higher percentage of infants and toddlers in childcare (as opposed to home with mom) than all the OECD countries except Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden (and we’re closer to Sweden than we are to the OECD average). That’s the direct result of policy choices we’ve made, including the total absence of paid parental leave (for which we stand alone among developed countries, in a small and shrinking field that includes Papau New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho). And even as the recession has increased the number of moms of very young children in the workforce, states have cut funding for child care and made it harder to get in other ways as well.

But, y’know, if we could just make the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent, everything will be right as rain. Yeah, campaign on that, Mittens.

Update: A Republican voter speaks

It’s long been observed that the uglier a woman is, the more likely she is to be a feminist. And it was always logical, too, that women who couldn’t compete with other women in the traditional manner would seek to change the rules of the game. But now there is some scientific evidence supporting both the logic and the observation, and it could be very useful in helping counteract the feminist propaganda that inundates young women from the time they are girls, encouraging them to waste their youth and fertility in chasing careers rather than families.

The message is a simple and straighforward one: feminism is for female losers in the game of Life.

Losers? This boy belongs under a bell jar in the Loser Museum.

38 thoughts on “The Republican War Against Women

  1. Up With Chris Hayes has a great segment on MSNBC re: moms/employment/tax implications of stay-at-home-moms for the wealthy vs. poor.

    Also, HuffPo has Mittens on front page with his “dignity of work” for women who have kids and need assistance — stay-at-home = undignified? Poor Ann!

  2. in all my years I’ve never heard a woman complain that taxes are keeping her from pursing her career. Have you?

    Well, sorta. When my wife was considering going back to work after we had a kid – and bear in mind this was NYC, with both high tax rates and high child care costs – we crunched the numbers and realized that her after-tax salary was about equal to the child care costs we’d incur. With that said, her preference was to stay home w/ the kids rather than go back to work; if she’d wanted to go back, she would’ve (although it would’ve been like an unpaid internship until she’d gotten raises).

    So certainly taxes can, in some circumstances, alter conduct (since they’re just another expense), but I don’t see that as a terribly interesting point or something unique to women working. It’s just how taxes work.

    • jpe — what you’re really saying is that it’s a combination of relatively low wages, child care costs, and taxes that can make the second income kind of pointless.

  3. jpe,
    Yes, we’re SOOOOOO much better off than other advanced industrial countries by NOT offering free (or low cost) Child Care in the workplace!

    Just imagine the loss of productivity if women (or men, for that matter) knew their child was safe, right near them at work, and they didn’t have to rush to work, afraid of being late, and of rushing off to pick their children up before the Day Care place closes.
    Boy, how would we ever survive as a country if we “convenienced” our women (and men) workers?

  4. I wouldn’t say her wages were low, maha, but you get the gist. I wanted to come back and clarify my latter point, which I left sorta cryptic. Another marginal expense she would’ve incurred by going back to work would’ve been the cost of a metrocard. That was also a factor, since her net take-home pay was so close to break-even w/ the incremental cost of child care. That bare fact doesn’t mean that the MTA shouldn’t charge for metrocards, of course, and to argue that point – which is the analog of the GOP’s tax argument here – veers on the insane. To say the MTA (or the taxing authorities) shouldn’t charge is to beg the question: it already assumes the answer to the question of whether the expense is worth it. And that applies to tax: the real question is whether we think should enough tax to support the sort of state we have currently. To glibly assume that the bare fact of tax means we shouldn’t pay it is to quite daftly beg the question.

    • jpe — what you’re saying has been true for a long time. I remember in the 1970s when so many married women were going back to work, there were all kinds of magazine articles arguing that it wouldn’t really pay because of child care, transportation costs, lunches, cost of an “office” wardrobe, evenings of Colonel Chicken for dinner, etc. Taxes were part of that, but a relatively small part

      And of course, subsidies for day care would be a much bigger help for most employed mothers than extending the Bush tax cuts.

  5. Here’s the one I love:
    “Most married women are second earners. That means their income is added to that of their husband’s and thus often taxed at a high marginal rate. This “marriage penalty” has never fully been adjusted for in the tax code.”

    ‘Jeez Honey, don’t take that job at the Waffle House, it’ll put us in the same tax bracket as the Romney’s!’

    How f*cking out of touch can these idjits be?
    Don’t answer that!

  6. jpe,
    I didn’t mean for my comment to seem as sarcastic to you as it came off, now that I reread it.
    It was meant to be general sarcasm.

  7. The EPA was for ugly women. My god, have they gone completely insane?? And the pretty girls were hired because of their insanemadskillz?? I’m thinking not. I think this is just one of those times when the Dems don’t even bother to step in when the Reps are doing such a great job of ‘clarifying the situation’. Just keep talking Mr. Mittens, I’m sure it’ll make sense soon enought. Overtime laws are keeping businesses from hiring women? Please. I’ve only heard of a few companies that do the flex time thing, and they aren’t doing it because they are such a great company. They do it so they can save money, or are forced to by union contracts. My own experience has been that when hiring, companies will only schedule many workers not on salary to 35 hrs a week, or to just under what ever the threshold it is in order to get benefits. They’d rather have 300 part-time employees than 200 extra full-time employees. Mittens, nor Mrs. Mittens, have not been in a real job in quite some time so clearly have no understanding or experience how it really works.

  8. Ah, yes, the old “femminism is for ugly women” trope. Insulting and shallow, but often coming back to haunt us.

    Of course, one could then suggest that femminism is needed because there’s so many shallow men in the world with irrational ideas of female beauty, who dump their wives for younger models. So due to the flaws in men and male culture, women are pursuing careers.

    Yeah, I know, nasty. But I do like turning an argument around.

  9. Tom, like General Douglas MacArthur, and soldiers, bad old blogs never die, they just fade away…

  10. Repubs are scrambling to put their anti-woman omelet back in the shell, but I seriously doubt it’s going to do them much good.

    In the 1990’s the four-day work week was introduced by many businesses; some people like it, some don’t. I fail to see how how eliminating the 40-hr work week–working longer hours for less pay–translates into a win for any employee. Although some companies reduce overtime costs by hiring temps to fill in once the regular employees have reached the 40-hour limit, I have a hard time seeing a downside to this, seeing’s during periods of high unemployment temps need work, too.

    Flex time, as practiced by some companies (Microsoft comes to mind here), is more project oriented. That is: This is your team’s assignment, these are the results we want, you are expected to put in 40 hours of work on this each week; how you spread out that time is up to you and your team.

    Scratching my head in puzzlement here. If the WSJ article was supposed to prove that Democratic policies were/are bad for women, I’d say the author used a lot of words to fail to make his/her case.

  11. I liked this: “…because it allows them to argue that the remedy always lies with more government.” Because on the one hand it just isn’t true, and on the other hand the column itself illustrates the bottomless irony of this assertion. It really is true that for conservatives the remedy always lies with tax cuts and deregulation. I’m sure tax cuts and deregulation would have been a more effective way to end Jim Crow, too.

  12. Fang: Yes, I also am tempted to turn the argument around and insist that misogyny is for ugly men. Of course I’m at a bit of a disadvantage compared to Vox Day, since I’m bound by this strange compulsion to observe certain standards of fairness and accuracy rather than just tossing around any “evidence” I can find that seems to support what I already want to believe.

    But I have wondered how it is that some men (I hope) aren’t sexists. Could looks be a factor? One of the main reason misogynists hate women, from what I can tell, is that they don’t “get to” have sex with them. But of course that isn’t true. Any man can get laid if he takes the trouble to make himself at least somewhat agreeable, and if he doesn’t expect all of his sexual partners to be swimsuit models. But alas, not all women are swimsuit models, and not all swimsuit models are eager to sleep with ugly, bitter men.

    I will also note that I’ve never quite overcome the nausea I felt when I realized that Vox Day is a play on vox Dei–the voice of God. It was a stupid enough name to begin with, but damn.

  13. They aren’t really trying to convince me that the GOP has been trying hard to fix the tax laws specifically to make it more profitable for women to work outside of the house, do they?

    When was that, exactly? Before or after they proposed subsidies for child-care? Yeah, right.

    The idea that the GOP is a strong supporter of moms working outside the home just makes me laugh out loud.

  14. “A married woman working on an assembly line keeps less of her paycheck than the unwed man who does the same job.”

    I’m no H & R Block, but wouldn’t the same be true that the married man (whose wife is also working) keeps less of his paycheck than an unmarried man who does the same job? And does it change depending if either claims tax withholding of zero, one or two?

    • I’m no H & R Block, but wouldn’t the same be true that the married man (whose wife is also working) keeps less of his paycheck than an unmarried man who does the same job? And does it change depending if either claims tax withholding of zero, one or two?

      That’s what I thought, too.

    • Anna Belle — your web site says “What women’s rights are when women are no longer manipulated by party rhetoric.” So as soon as you remove the Republican Programming Microchip from your brain, maybe you’ll understand what it’s like to think for yourself and base your conclusions on your own wisdom, hard won from your own experience. Until then, you should change the site slogan to “Spouting Rightie Talking Points Like a Good Little Brainless Bot.” Thanks much.

      Oh, and goodby. I don’t waste bandwidth I’m paying for by hosting comments from brainwashed twits.

  15. “It’s long been observed that the uglier a woman is, the more likely she is to be a feminist.”

    Aside from the fact that this is hogwash, does this idiot not know that not all feminists are female?

    I am male. I have a d*** and I am a feminist.

  16. Well, as I see it Ann Romney is a ‘welfare queen.’ True, her welfare comes from her husband rather than from the government, but according to Republicans – they’ve been preaching it for years – a person can be qualified as ‘working’ only if she receives a salary for her labor, certainly not for non-paying labor in her home.

    Can one imagine a poor woman on government welfare (because child-care costs would exceed her pay) saying ala Ann, “My career choice was to be a mother” and being admired for her ‘choice?’ A Republican would tell her she’s not working (as they have always defined ‘work.’)

  17. Maha—-let’s not get into name calling. That blog piece you called Republican is mine, and I am most definitely NOT a Republican. I just have opinions off of the leftist grid on some things. That makes me progressive. you see, if you’d actually READ the piece (and my sitemeter shows that you didn’t read it at all), you’d see that some new ideas on advancing women are in the wind and they can’t be labelled left or right. They are NEW—-and in my book, that stands for progress from where we are. Please read the piece before you go off on a wild tangent. The old way of doing things hasn’t advanced women very far, and I just think we need to try some new tactics. What’s wrong about that?

    • Maha—-let’s not get into name calling.

      Then don’t start name calling,

      That blog piece you called Republican is mine, and I am most definitely NOT a Republican.

      I didn’t call any blog piece “Republican.” I called Anna Belle Republican, and she linked to “Women Win Too” as her blog.

      However, the piece you claim as yours is nothing but name calling. Obviously you don’t like “lefty feminists,” whoever they are, but you never get around to saying why, or clearly state what they did that you think was so awful. There is some amorphous whining about “legislation,” but no clear statement of what legislation you are talking about and why you don’t like it. Eventually you mention “quota legislation.” I didn’t even know there was any “quota legislation” on the table anywhere. It’s way down everyone’s “to do” list, if it is.

      Sloppy, writing, sloppy thinking, and not worth my time. Good by.

  18. Regarding taxes, I never married and I have always paid twice as many taxes as my married friends. You can tell a man who knows very little about women wrote that article. Regarding the “ugly feminist”, I would like to remind every one that one of our foremost feminist leaders, Gloria Steinem, was a playboy bunny. She also looks great at 70. Also, for those who haven’t read it yet, here is the website for Ashley Judd’s essay on misogyny:

    It is great reading. Also, since I worked for the Federal Government, I know the history of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It was put in place to stop employers who were taking advantage of the lower wage employees and making them work more than 40 hours a week without paying them. Also, the Federal Government used to always operate on the premise that as an employer, it had to set a good example. Flex time was implemented in the mid-70s and continues to this day. In the Washington, DC, area, flex time played a big role in making the traffic created by the Federal workers a bit more tolerable. Elsewhere it was a boon to people who just needed different schedules for a variety of reasons. The Republicans are going to lose this war on women that THEY started; and, they are going to lose it big time.

  19. Hey all, hi. I was trying to post this article to facebook, to “share”, but facebook says something on this page ( is spammy. So I can’t share. wah. Facebook wouldn’t post the link even after clicking the “no thumbnail” thing.

    Anyway, interesting post, thank you very much!

  20. I haven’t been married for a while, but IIRC, the “marriage penalty” is a relatively small bracket in which a married couple will pay higher taxes than two single people.

    For me, when I was married, our taxes were always *lower* than they would have been because I earned a lot of money, and my wife earned relatively little – say, a third of what I did – and more of my wages were taxed at a lower rate.

    There was a collection of incomes where there was a small penalty – but it also vanished after a while (for sufficiently high income, that is).

  21. Pingback: Monday Reads « Sky Dancing

  22. Bonnie…Oprah Winfrey had a presentation of Gloria Steinem in her Master Class series on the OWN network. It was interesting to look back at the barriers of equality that women faced back in the 60’s and 70’s…one of them that stood out was the fact that women weren’t given credit cards without the co-signing of a male guardian or husband. It kinda had a Saudi Arabian flavor to it…

    Another fact that was brought to light was that women weren’t allowed to run in the Boston marathon for the first 10 years of it’s existence.

    • Yeah, I remember credit cards. The first time I applied for a credit card I was told women had to have a father’s or husband’s signature to get a credit card. I know that was in the early 1970s. And it was a freaking Sears card.

  23. maha..Another issue that was highlighted was that sexual harassment didn’t even exist as a concept back in those days..One women told of a point blank demand from her boss that she put out or to get out.. Talk about job security? No protections for women back then.

  24. I have no idea which company is a scam and which isn’t, but it’s absurd and naive to proclaim that companies that charge upfront fees are fraudulent. I can only surmise you have never done any modifications then.

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