Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Other Wars on Women

While we're all being Akinized (the latest method of torture in the eternal presidential campaign of the muddled mind), there's been hardly a riffle of angst over President Obama's announcement yesterday that he will extend the federal wage freeze at least into next year. At the same time the Democrats are casting themselves as staunch defenders of our fallopian tubes, the leader of their party is sending our economic well-being right down the tubes.

By now, that two-year-old pay freeze is amounting to a draconian pay cut for federal workers, whose health insurance and pension contributions have continued to increase. It's a tough choice he had to make, said Obama, but everybody has to share the sacrifice. Except, of course, rich people. They're still waiting for their turn. His exact words:
Civilian federal employees have already made significant sacrifices as a result of a two-year pay freeze. As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, however, we must maintain efforts to keep our nation on a sustainable fiscal course. This is an effort that continues to require tough choices and each of us to do our fair share.
Translation: since the real culprits won't own up, the whole class will be punished. Needless to say, the scapegoated workers (nearly half of whom are women) are incensed. David Cox of the American Federation of Government Employees is calling Obama's decision "unconscionable." He said the real loss in wages for an employee earning $30,000 is $2,000 when health care premiums are factored in. The president is again demonstrating his austerity bona fides to an electorate he seems to think cares about something called the deficit. No, scratch that. He is demonstrating his austerity bona fides to his unindicted Wall Street masters (contrary to common wisdom, they're still contributing to his campaign coffers, albeit at lower levels than to Rmoney.)

The president ordered the pay freeze only a month before he "caved" on the Bush tax cut extensions in late 2010. Therefore, the $5 billion saved off the backs of federal workers was more than wiped out by deferring to the Republicans and their mega-rich sugar daddies. Obama sweetened the pot even further by getting rid of the estate tax, ensuring that Paris Hilton won't have to pay a penny more. Those were the good old days, when progressives could still get outraged by their president derisively calling them whining purist ideologues, when it was still considered not only permissible, but essential, for the citizenry to dissent and criticize. A year later, the Occupy movement would be born, and the national repressive police state would become apparent.

So this is what we have to look forward to in a second Obama term. This is the face of lesser evilism: holding ordinary working people hostage unless and until a recalcitrant Congress agrees to a grandiose bargain of trillions of dollars in cuts to programs benefiting regular people and maybe but not really the Pentagon. At his impromptu press conference Monday, the president reiterated his burning desire for drastic cuts "balanced" by a polite request that the rich pay just a tad more in taxes. This guy, whose re-election hopes hinge upon his championing of the so-called middle class, is actually putting Medicare and Social Security on the table while he is running for office. And here you thought the Republicans were insane. Again, in his exact words:
  I continue to be open to seeing Congress approach this with a balanced plan that has tough spending cuts, building on the $1 trillion worth of spending cuts we've already made, but also asks for additional revenue from folks like me, folks in the top 1 or 2 percent. That would give more "certainty" to families and small businesses.
Notice how the president skillfully makes the cuts palatable to supporters by always reminding us that "folks like him" will have to share the sacrifice just as much as the impoverished widow who'll see her lifetime Social Security benefits decrease because of his chained COLA plan, or the 65-year-old unemployed and unemployable woman who will now try to stay alive just a few more years till her Medicare kicks in.

With friends like Obama, who needs enemies like RomRy? 

What? Oh, I forgot. The Democrats will protect us from coat hangers in back alleys. So be afraid-very-afraid, shut up, and eat your birth control pills.

And pay no attention to the fact that under a Democratic commander in chief, rapes and sexual abuse of women in the military have reached staggering new levels. (19,000 cases a year) These crimes go largely unprosecuted, and the victims themselves are regularly blamed, even discharged. Rep. Jackie Speier, who's been a lone Congressional advocate for military rape victims, writes:
Despite admonitions that the military has zero tolerance for rape, the military system supports a culture that values "military character" over justice for victims. Unlike the civilian system, the defense may cross-examine victims and previous sexual conduct is admissible evidence. It's no wonder so few victims report the crime.
And if a female soldier becomes pregnant as a result of rape, the armed services will not provide an abortion.  She is on her own, on any of the 1,000 (!) American military bases scattered around the world. Tell me again about the war against women.


Denis Neville said...

Austerity and other wars on women in the looming retirement crisis

What is the financial magnitude of the nation’s retirement income crisis? The non-partisan Center for Retirement Research at Boston College calculates our current retirement income deficit - the gap between the pensions and retirement savings that American households have today and what they should have today to maintain their standard of living – to be $6.6 trillion. This assumes that people will work, save, and accumulate additional pension and Social Security benefits until they retire at age 65. It also assumes that retirees will spend down all their wealth in retirement, including home equity. The deficit is thus in many respects a conservative number. The measure also assumes no cuts in Social Security.

The National Retirement Risk Index measures the share of households at risk of not being able to maintain their standard of living in retirement. Key findings in the NRRI show that:
•The retirement landscape is shifting dramatically, making the outlook for retiring Baby Boomers and Generation Xers far less sanguine than for current retirees.
•51 percent of households are “at risk” of not having enough to maintain their living standards in retirement.
•Explicitly including health care in the Index drives up the share of households “at risk” to 61 percent.
•Incorporating long-term care costs further increases the Index to 65 percent.

Social Security and Medicare are perhaps the only factors in the Retirement Income Deficit calculation that the elderly can still rely upon.

Social Security only replaces 37% of the average worker’s pre-retirement income at 65. 95% get less than $2,000 a month.

Women receive less than $12,000 a year compared to $14,000 for retirees overall. 75% of the elderly living in poverty are women.

Without Social Security, almost half over 65 will be living in poverty. Dependence on Social Security has increased dramatically thanks to the great recession, collapsed housing market, decades of stagnating wages, and the disintegration of the social safety net.

The future is grim for many working women and men. Resources they once believed would carry them through retirement are disappearing.

The biggest threat to Social Security isn't the Republicans. It’s Obama and the neo-liberal centrists. “Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid,”Matt Stoller

“The lifespan of any civilization can be measured by the respect and care that is given to its elderly citizens, and those societies which treat their elderly with contempt have the seeds of their own destruction within them.” - Arnold J. Toynbee

Valerie said...

"The biggest threat to Social Security isn't the Republicans. It’s Obama and the neo-liberal centrists. “Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid,”Matt Stoller"

I agree, Denis - Yet, otherwise intelligent and liberal people - people who have ranted against Obama over the past three years, are being scared "into line" by the threat of Romney/Ryan. What is so funny, is the Republicans who are unhappy with the corporate oligarchy are being scared into line by "Obama/Biden."

When will otherwise intelligent people in the Middle Class realise that the plutocracy and their collaborators in policial office are the REAL enemies and the drama of the "terrible other" is just theatre?

I dream of an election where all Americans vote their conscience and abandon the two party system.