Last week, leaders of the women’s rights movement sent a letter to the president and vice president asking for a meeting to talk about the impact of the current economic crisis, joblessness, budget balancing and debt reduction on women. Women leaders and economic experts were noticeably absent from the “table” where the bipartisan discussions, convened by Vice President Biden, were occurring.
Although this request received lots of press attention and sympathetic support, no women negotiators were added to the group and no meeting with the president or vice president has ensued, although a meeting with White House staffers is in the works.
But someone was watching and listening, and if only for the “photo op” effect, a Republican woman joined John Boehner and Eric Cantor as they marched up the sidewalk at the White House on Tuesday for a meeting with the president. Looking at that picture of Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) striding with the male leadership to join the president for a faux showdown on the budget dealings, I was reminded of the saying “be careful what you wish for.”
We didn’t mean just any woman. We meant one who understands the economics of budget and tax policies as they hurt or help women, their children and their families. McMorris Rodgers is part of the extensive Republican whip team, serves on the crucial Energy and Commerce Committee, and votes against women’s rights at almost every turn. She voted the straight party line against women’s reproductive health and supported the Ryan budget to “gut and cut” programs. She has a zero rating from NARAL and near zeros from AAUW and NOW. She voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay bill, for goodness sakes. Wonder just how much she stuck up for women in that confab.
Women are the majority of recipients of vital public benefits, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, childcare subsidies and other family friendly support programs. They are underpaid for the work they do and often hold down two or three part-time/near minimum wage jobs while their spouses look for work. We cannot balance our budget or reduce our debt without understanding the effects of these cuts and slashes on the lives and livelihoods of our nation’s girls and women.