Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obama and Working Women

Today, I read a report produced by the Obama campaign on how Obama's economic policies will affect working women. In our present media climate, saturated with irrelevant discussions of personality and electability, it was refreshing to read something which laid out some projected results of Obama's economic policy ideas. I know it was laid out in the sunniest possible light by his campaign folks -- and I KNOW he could do better -- but I was still heartened by what I read.

For staunch Obama-heads, these might be no-brainers, but as a frustrated voter to the left of him, I guess I missed them. Here's some things I didn't know before today:

  1. Obama would increase the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011, and would index the minimum wage to inflation. As a labor activist, I'm encouraged by his campaign language on this: the report also notes that the purchasing power of the minimum wage is below 1968 levels.
  2. Obama proposes overhauling our present system of child care tax credits to make it more inclusive and generous. Working families will receive a 50% tax credit on child care expenses up to $3000 per child.
  3. Obama would mandate 7 days of paid sick leave per year. His campaign reports that, because women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs with crappy benefits, more than 22 million American women are not afforded a single day of paid sick leave. Now there's a sobering statistic.
  4. As Senator, Obama co-introduced the Fair Pay Restoration Act. His campaign report includes explicit language about the wage gap not only between men and women, but between white men and people of color.
Sure, his campaign report includes a nod to Ronald Reagan -- apparently Reagan loved the Earned Income Tax Credit -- but then again, he's trying to get elected in this freakin' country. And I'm excited to see the Obama campaign frame his middle-class tax cuts as "that's eight months rent," or "that's health insurance for a year." Indeed, this is the way most of us think about money.

John McCain, on the other hand, has the balls to praise the working mother on his ticket while remaining clueless about, and voting against, fair pay legislation for every other working mother in the country.

Barack Obama: yeah, he's probably worth voting for.

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