The yoga class I took just before last night’s State of the Union (SOTU) address wiped me out. I fell asleep immediately afterward. Which is good because I had a chance to think overnight about the parts that resonated most with me.
I’ve been tough on the president in the past, disappointed with his timidity and unwillingness to set a big bold agenda.
The other good thing about writing the day after is that others have fact checked. And the de rigeur liberal critique as well as Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) really awful other-party rebuttal have been duly hashed and rehashed.
With the benefit of reflection, here are my three favorite parts of the speech.Read More
Last week, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would allow employees to discuss their salary information without the fear of companies pursuing legal action against them.
The bill is on its third try. In a 2010 senate vote, the bill failed to get any Republican support, even by the female Republican Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who all voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Act.
According to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Fair Pay Act will:
• Amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, race or national origin;
• Require employers to provide equal pay for jobs that are comparable in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions;
• Prohibit companies from reducing other employees’ wages to achieve pay equity;
• Require public disclosure of employer job categories and pay scales, without requiring specific information on individual employees; and
• Allow payment of different wages under a seniority system, merit system, or system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.
The bill makes perfect sense—give all female workers a chance to see what their equal male counterparts are earning, and see if it matches up without getting sued by employers. In an economy where women earn some 33% less than males, why wouldn’t politicians see this as a good measure for ensuring equal rights?Read More
I’ve been critical of the President’s leadership in the past, and wrote this about a previous State of the Union address. But I’m rooting for him to be at his rhetorical and persuasive best tonight, not so much for his re- election prospects as for the good of the country.
Candidate Obama had a large vision during his campaign and it called us to our higher selves. In part his decisive 2008 victory was due to America’s exhaustion with George W. Bush. But a big factor was Obama’s vision and his promises to lead a progressive agenda once elected.
Instead, once elected, he focused on small vision projects and on doing deals rather than articulating the ideals that had propelled him into office. Tonight’s speech gives him a new opportunity– the last such chance he’ll have during this term–to give people that bigger vision and not just to say things that are safe. To come out swinging at the RepublicansRead More
“I am feeling so disempowered,” the woman prefaced her question to me at a “Passion to Action” conference in Grass Vally, CA, sponsored by the See Jane Do organization. But her face telegraphed very powerful emotions: anger, frustration, fear. It was a look we’ve seen on the faces of teabaggers as they shouted wild allegations and disrupted town halls across the nation.
This woman was no teabagger. She was a progressive Democratic woman, a key member of Obama’s base. The impassioned ones who swept him into office on a frothy wave of belief in the change he promised; the ones now feeling somewhere between skeptical and cynical.
“I want real health reform. What happened to that and what can I do about it?” The questioner lobbed this at me after my speech encouraging women to use our power as activists. If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, then it would be very important to listen to what women like her had to say about Obama’s State of the Union address.Read More
You know how I like to ask “so what are you going to do about it?” Well, here’s a great example, courtesy of blogger Joanne Cronrath Bamberger, aka PunditMom. She has graciously allowed me to crosspost her commentary from Huffington Post. For those of us who feel justice requires that Lilly Ledbetter receive compensation for her heroic efforts on behalf of all women’s paycheck equality, Joanne provides an easy way to communicate to Lilly’s former employer, Goodyear Rubber and Tire, and urge them to make good on the pay they in effect robbed her of over the years. Here you go, and don’t forget to drop your note to Goodyear:
As so many women have been basking in the glow of the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the news reports reminded us that even though Lilly has become a standard bearer for the fight for fair pay for women, Lilly herself will never see a nickel of the money that she sued Goodyear Rubber and Tire for.Read More
The best: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama. This photo says, better than a thousand words, the joy of this step forward for gender equality in compensation. That’s Lilly, the blonde in the middle (I won’t identify by her red jacket because it seems Senators Barbara Mikulski and Olympia Snowe and Rep.Eleanor Holmes Norton also got the memo).
Am I alone in noting the contrast between this photo, with its diverse group of people and the photo of old white men surrounding George Bush when he signed the abortion ban bill? Quite a sea change. Breathe out now. Guess which one of the signings I was invited to, and which one not.
But on to the not so best, for some happenings this past week were more like Washington as usual:Read More
As Congress works through the economic stimulus package, representatives need to keep in mind the connection between a woman’s need to determine her reproductive life and her ability to benefit from and contribute to economic recovery and growth. (This is an exclusive commentary I wrote for the Women’s Media Center.)
Arkansas State Senator Paul Van Dalsem got a roaring laugh in 1963 at the then all-male Optimist Club when he railed at women lobbying to improve educational opportunities for African Americans. He said his home county’s solution would be to get an uppity woman an extra milk cow. “And if that’s not enough, we get her pregnant and keep her barefoot.”
Fast forward to January 2009. The relevance of barefoot and pregnant remains central to an inclusive and just America. Economic parity and reproductive justice are still intertwined, not only in the lives of individual women; they are indivisibly connected to our economic recovery as well.
While the 111th Congress awaits President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration for action on his proposed $775-billion stimulus plan, it’s considering two important pieces of legislation not included in the recovery package. Each is treated in isolation as “women’s issues.” Yet both are integral to the success of Obama’s economic stimulus.
The Prevention First Act, sponsored by Representative Louise Slaughter and others to expand access to family planning and reproductive health care, was introduced January 13 to virtually no fanfare and little media coverage. Two gender pay equity bills—the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act—passed the House of Representatives with a bit more hoopla a few days earlier. Here’s how they work together and with the economic recovery.Read More
That’s about what the average woman loses over a career lifetime due to gender inequities in pay for the same jobs as men.
So click here to Speak Up and demand the Senate pass two crucial pieces of legislation so that Barack Obama can sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, as he has said he would do. In a historic vote, the House of Representatives on Friday passed both bills by substantial margins, largely along party lines. A Senate vote could come as early as this week.
No, these bills aren’t another financial bailout for ailing industries that don’t deserve them. They’re not a get-rich-quick scheme from late night television infomercial-land. Nor are they part of the badly needed but very expensive stimulus package—but they should be. Here’s why:Read More
Little did I know a few weeks ago, when Carole Joffe and I wrote “It’s About Time Working Women Get Straight Answers from John McCain”, showing the connective tissue uniting economic and reproductive justice–you know, like the phrase “barefoot and pregnant”– and challenging McCain to clarify his positions on basic questions such as: Do you…Read More