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National NOW Times >> Fall 2012  >> Article

The Romney-Ryan Budget: Why Women Should Care

Before Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced his choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, the National Organization for Women was already linking the two men in an effort to spread the word about their dangerous economic proposals.

Earlier in the year, Romney expressed enthusiastic support for the House budget that Ryan authored, so NOW President Terry O'Neill decided to write a series of pieces for the Huffington Post examining various aspects of the "Romney-Ryan" budget plan. That Ryan ended up on the GOP ticket made this analysis even more important, as it confirmed that Romney and Ryan are supply-side soul mates with a very risky blueprint for the country.

While most people probably don't relish the idea of talking about the U.S. budget in depth, feminists must undertake the task, as the budget touches every aspect of a woman's life, including her reproductive health.

NOW identified key areas where the Romney-Ryan budget runs roughshod over women: repealing the Affordable Care Act; eliminating family planning funding; converting Medicare to a privatized voucher system; making Medicaid a state block grant program; putting future cuts to Social Security benefits on a fast track that Congress could not slow down; and slashing a whole range of social programs that disproportionately serve and employ women.

Also critical to any assessment of the plan is taking a look at the beneficiaries -- those who stand to gain the most while the majority suffers. The Romney-Ryan plan achieves no meaningful budget deficit reduction because the cuts in social spending are offset by increased military spending and enhanced tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires -- segments of the economy where women are distinctly under-represented.

O'Neill's series of posts opened with the story of Linda and Emily -- a window into the reality of being a woman in the United States.

Linda is a single mother who lived with and helped care for her aging parents while she raised her daughter. She worked all her life at low-paying jobs that did not offer pensions or 401(k) plans. Linda worked in fields filled predominantly by women, like child care and retail -- jobs that are undervalued in our society. She lived paycheck to paycheck, like so many women, and retired with no personal savings.

Because of low wages, time out of the workforce and her need to retire a few years early due to health issues, Linda's monthly Social Security check is pitiful. She qualifies for her state Medicaid program and other assistance, which help pay for her prescriptions and doctors' bills, but she cannot afford to live on her own, so she now lives with her daughter, Emily.

Linda wanted Emily to have a better life. But she wasn't able to help her daughter with college tuition, so Emily started her adult life with massive student loans hanging over her head. Because of this debt and the continuing wage gap, Emily has struggled to save up for a home in a safe neighborhood, to build a cushion for herself and her family, and to save for her own eventual retirement.

Women need better-paying jobs and benefits, and they need to know there is a safety net to keep them from falling when times get tough and life doesn't go quite as planned. But Romney and Ryan are intent on shredding the social safety net and funneling more money to the private market and industries that have already proven they can't be trusted. Their budget plan is a recipe for disaster for women and this nation. Read the full series of posts at

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