|You’ll want to share thisWe’d like to think we’ve got a lot of content worth passing along.And we launched White House Shareables as a central place for some of our favorite infographics, GIFs, and explainer videos that highlight President Obama’s policies in a way that’s interesting and easy to understand. It’s for things that, we’re betting, you’ll like enough to pass on.
As President Obama focuses on the importance of raising the minimum wage, check out this infographic that shows how it will impact women. See it and share it (along with all of our best content) on WhiteHouse.gov/Shareables.
Every mother values the personal touch of a hand-written card or a bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day that reminds them they are appreciated. (We at the Progress Report wouldn’t dream of committing this dangerous oversight.) But from economic security to health and reproductive rights to expanding opportunities for leadership and career advancement, millions of women and their families are at a disadvantage. With that in mind, here is a list of some essential policies to show the moms out there we appreciate them not just on Mother’s Day, but all year round. It’s time women and families have a fair shot at getting ahead, not just getting by.
1. Raise The Federal Minimum Wage To $10.10 Per Hour.
Women make up approximately two-thirds of all minimum wage workers. Raising the wage from $7.25 to $10.10 would put over $4,000 in the pockets of a full-time minimum wage worker, and it would boost wages for about 4.7 million mothers. What’s more, families benefit from a wage increase: sixty percent of women are the primary or co-bread winners in their households. More money in their paychecks means more for their families.
2. Ensure Equal Pay For Equal Work.
Women are consistently paid less than their male counterparts and make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers. Raising the minimum wage is certainly a step in helping hardworking women support their families. Enacting stronger equal pay protections is another — it will hold employers more accountable for their practices, ensure vigorous enforcement, and empower women to uncover discrimination and negotiate for salaries they deserve. Last month, President Obama took executive action to combat discriminatory pay practices among federal contractors. But unfortunately, most Republicans in Congress continue to oppose a similar measure for workers nationwide and in some cases hold extremely backward or insensitive views on the issue.
3. Expand Access To Paid Sick And Family Leave.
Times have changed since the Mad Men era, but our workplace policies have failed to keep up. Too many women face an impossible choice between fulfilling their family or work responsibilities. Today, less than one in three children have a stay-at-home parent compared to about 55 percent a century ago, but only 11 percent of workers have access to paid family leave through their employer.. Paid family leave legislation would provide workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or seriously ill family member, or to recover from their own serious illness. Nearly two-thirds of voters support this plan.
4. Expand Access To Affordable, High-Quality Pre-School.
The lack of quality, affordable pre-school or child care options has an enormous economic impact on families. In fact, only 69 percent of 4-year-olds in America are enrolled in early childhood education, which leaves the U.S. ranked 28th among developed countries. Expanding access to high-quality preschool and child care fulfills the dual purposes of enabling mothers (and fathers) to find and maintain jobs and helping children prepare for and achieve the best outcomes in school. For every dollar invested in early childhood education, program participants and society as a whole receive $7 in benefits.
5. Ensure Reproductive Rights For All Women.
The Affordable Care Act has already represented a major victory for millions of women, including by prohibiting insurers from charging women more than men, and requiring insurers to cover maternity care, birth control, and preventative services like mammograms. But when it comes to reproductive health, mothers–and women who deserve the freedom to choose if or when they become mothers–are seeing their rights taken away. Over the past three years, states have enacted 205 abortion restrictions — more than during the entire previous decade. And this is in spite of the fact that the national abortion rate is at an historic low, not because of these laws, but more likely because more women have access to birth control.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s time we support policies that make women and their families more secure. Our country would be better off if we give women the same opportunities men have to get ahead in their jobs, get access to education, and have control over their health decisions. That is would be a truly special — and very popular — Mother’s Day gift.
The Supreme Court issued two important rulings this morning: one that makes it harder for women to exercise their right to choose, and a second that effectively eliminates a President’s ability to make recess appointments and could imperil unions down the road as a consequence. The remaining decisions this session are expected to come next Monday, including Hobby Lobby (can owners of a for-profit, secular corporation impose their religious beliefs on their employees?) and Harris v. Quinn (are public sector unions’ fair share fees that ensure all employees, regardless of whether they are members of the union, receive the collectively bargained-for benefits constitutional?)
The decisions today were both handed down unanimously by the High Court. Here’s more on what the implications are for each:
The decision: The Court struck down a Massachusetts’ law establishing a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion providers, ruling in favor of anti-choice protesters who argued that being required to stay that far away from clinic entrances is a violation of their freedom of speech. The decision rolls back a proactive policy intended to safeguard women’s access to reproductive health care in the face of persistent harassment and intimidation from abortion opponents.
The argument: The Justices argue that the 35-foot zone in the Massachusetts law restricts “access to ‘public way[s]‘ and ‘sidewalk[s],’ places that have traditionally been open for speech activities.” Therefore, the opinion states, the law burdens “substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests.” The justices do not categorically deny the right for states to set up buffer zones protecting abortion clinics, but do effectively remove the Massachusetts law and threaten other similar safety measures around the country.
The implications: The decision is a blow to women. Since 1993, eight clinic workers have been murdered. There have been 6,400 reported acts of violence against abortion providers since 1977. According to the National Abortion Federation (NAF), which closely tracks threats and violence against abortion providers across the country, buffer zones have had a measurable impact improving safety in the areas where they’re in place.
BOTTOM LINE: The Supreme Court itself has a buffer zone around it’s 252-by-98-foot plaza, preventing protesters from demonstrating too close to the entrance. Surely it can see the need for abortion clinics, the subject of frequent and sometimes violent intimidation from their opponents, to have a reasonable buffer zone as well.
The decision: The Court effectively eliminated the president’s power to make recess appointments in all but the most unusual circumstances. It limits the president’s constitutional duty to appoint leaders that keep our country working for all Americans, from making sure our elections are fair to protecting workers’ and consumer rights.
The argument: Prior to Noel Canning, a federal appeals court — the highest legal authority to weigh in on the question — confirmed that a president does indeed have the power to make recess appointments. Specifically, it ruled that sham sessions known as “pro forma” sessions held by the Senate every three days in order to defeat a president’s attempts to make these appointments were in fact not enough to stop him. Every single justice on the Supreme Court, however, disagreed with that ruling and voted against recess appointments today, although the Court split 5-4 on rationale. Five justices, overturning the appeals court, opined that these “pro forma” sessions were in fact enough to block a president from making recess appointments because “the Senate is in session when it says it is.” The four conservative justices went even further, with an opinion that could have retroactively invalidated thousands of recess appointments made by presidents past if it had garnered just one more vote.
The implications: The impact of this ruling goes beyond a legal technicality. President Obama took the risk of making recess appointments in the first place to fill a minimum number of seats on the National Labor Relations Board, a government agency with exclusive authority to enforce much of federal labor law. NLRB members serve five year terms, and unless at least three seats on the board are occupied, it is powerless to act. Therefore, the fullest impact of this decision will likely be felt in 2018, when the five year terms of the NLRB’s current slate of members expire. Even if the president at that time supports allowing federal labor law to function in 2018, he or she will be unable to keep the NLRB functioning if a majority of the Senate is determined to shut down federal labor protections.
More broadly, the decision underscores the importance of the Senate’s action last November to allow executive nominees to receive an up or down confirmation vote. Without last year’s change to the Senate rules, today’s decision would have empowered a small, but vocal minority, to use arcane procedure to block the government from being able to function properly.
BOTTOM LINE: In a technical ruling, the Supreme Court took away the president’s power to make recess appointments. While today’s court decision will have little immediate impact, its long-term effects remain unclear and could threaten the rights of workers across the country if the NLRB is dismantled. The House and Senate must find new ways to ensure that the politics of obstruction and shutdown do not limit the ability of our nation to function properly.
Stay tuned for more Court decisions on Monday. If you are in the Washington, D.C. area, RSVP to join a rally hosted by NARAL in front of the Supreme Court that morning.