Can This Be What Women Want?
The Democrats condescend to half the electorate
Sep 10, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 48 • By MEGHAN CLYNE
Another perspective on job figures is even more dismaying. During Obama’s first full month in office, according to Department of Labor statistics, the unemployment rate for men was 9.2 percent, and for women, 7.3 percent. Today, the unemployment rate for men is actually lower than it was in February 2009—8.4 percent. For women, however, unemployment is up—now at 8.1 percent. While men’s unemployment spiked and has declined steadily since, women’s rose and has remained basically level. This means that, heading into the election, men’s recent experience with the Obama economy is slightly more hopeful: For them, hiring is picking up, while for women, it has stagnated. To the extent that there has been an Obama “recovery,” it certainly hasn’t done much for women.
It doesn’t help that Obama’s policies have harmed women’s job prospects specifically. In his first few weeks in office, Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, touted by the administration as one of its earliest achievements on behalf of women. The law makes it easier for women to sue their employers if they suspect unequal pay; the result, critics of the law note, will be to encourage employers to avoid the risk of such lawsuits up front by covertly discriminating against women in hiring decisions. The law also curtails women’s options: Many women, after all, have their own reasons for taking jobs at lower pay. They might want to price themselves competitively when trying to reenter the job market after raising children; they might take a lower salary in exchange for more flexible hours or working conditions. Lilly Ledbetter restricts their ability to do so, making it harder for some women to find jobs that fit with the other demands of their lives.
Of course, women do not participate in the economy only as job-seekers. According to MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer, around three-quarters of principal household shoppers are female. In a sluggish economy, the struggle to meet rising prices with limited income is a burden that falls disproportionately on women. Obama’s (anti-)energy policies haven’t helped: Under his presidency, the price for a gallon of gas has more than doubled—rising from $1.84 to $3.83. This is not making women’s task of stretching tight household budgets any easier.
One service that women consume much more than men do is health care—“poor health care” ranks high on their list of the nation’s problems—and the Obama record here barely needs explanation. Obama-care will force millions of families out of the insurance plans they have now, reduce the quality of care, and introduce delays, rationing, and inefficiencies throughout the system. In selling the law, Democrats often noted that women make most health care decisions in America; moreover, mothers are more likely to wait with sick children at pediatricians’ offices, and daughters are more likely to care for aging parents. As seeking medical care becomes more difficult and time-consuming—all for worse health outcomes and lower patient satisfaction—the pain will be more intense for American women.
Obama-care’s employer mandates also make life much more difficult for women who are starting and running their own businesses. Indeed, the Obama agenda in general is a disaster for entrepreneurs, men and women alike. The president has promised to raise taxes on “the rich”—anyone making more than $200,000 a year. But according to a study from earlier this year by the National Federation of Independent Business, about 75 percent of the nation’s small businesses are structured as “pass-through” businesses that report income and losses on owners’ personal income-tax returns. This means that business income is assessed at the owners’ personal rates. As a result of Obama’s pledge and taxes that will go into effect as part of Obama-care, the top marginal tax rate will climb from 35 percent to 44 percent at the beginning of next year. For small-business owners, it’s that much less money to invest in capital purchases and new hires. And as a 2010 Department of Commerce report (prepared for Obama’s own White House Council on Women and Girls) noted, businesses owned by women tend to be smaller and start smaller than male-owned businesses. Obama’s tax policies will thus disproportionately harm women entrepreneurs.