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Budget Cuts Most Likely to Affect Women: So Why Aren't There Any Women on the Budget-Slashing Committee?

Women's groups worry that the budget will be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable.

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Harrison also echoed the points raised in the Nation. “Men have recovered 21 percent of their lost jobs, while women have gained back only a 10th of the jobs that they lost,” she said.

Keeping the Safety Net Stable

Meanwhile, the kind of reckless slashing of public programs being proposed in plans like Paul Ryan’s disastrous Medicare overhaul proposal has dire implications for the women who need help from these programs the most: single moms, the elderly and the poor.

Bobbie Brinegar, executive director of Older Women’s League (OWL), was on the call to point out out that the pillars of our social safety net affect women to disproportionate degree. “Women live longer and depend more on Medicare and Social Security than men,” she said. “Women also make up the majority of adult Medicaid recipients." 

Furthermore, the pay gap and the work gap means that when women do receive benefits, those benefits are likely to be their sole means of support.

“Women are less likely to have employer pensions to rely on,” Brinegar said, and that pension--if it does arrive--may be smaller due to fewer years in the workforce thanks to family and caregiving duties that fall on women. 

"Women support their families just as much as men do. We just don't get paid for it," O'Neill said, joining others on the call advocating for some sort of credits that would allow workers who leave the workforce to take care of a relative to continue contributing toward Social Security.

Republicans are already demonstrating their callousness toward women and children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. As the AP reported, "In a bill released Monday, Republicans proposed cutting $832 million -- 11 percent from this year's budget for the Women, Infants and Children program, which provides food for low-income mothers and children."

In the face of these kinds of all-out attacks, these women's advocates are adamant about what the government needs to do to avoid hurting women: ask the wealthiest citizens to contribute more and preserve social programs for the next generation. We need “rational approaches that do not include cuts to Social Security,” Brinegar said.

"We're trying to create a budget that will work for everyone in this country, not just the wealthy,” O'Neill said.

 

Sarah Seltzer is an associate editor at AlterNet, a staff writer at RH Reality Check and a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published in Jezebel.com and on the websites of the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. Find her at sarahmseltzer.com.

 
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