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November-11-10

Deficit Commission Proposal of Co-Chairs Targets Women Statement of Eleanor Smeal, President of Feminist Majority

The Feminist Majority joins its many sister organizations that are outraged at the Deficit Commission Co-Chairs in denouncing their proposal.

This proposal would be a poor joke if it was not so cruel to the elderly, the working poor, and the majority of working women. The proposal targets programs for cuts, such as Social Security, the earned income tax credit, and the child tax credit, in which the majority of recipients are women and programs that women, especially elderly women, desperately need. It caps spousal benefits (mostly going to women) at one-half of average workers' benefits - not necessarily their spouses' benefits as it is now. It freezes the pay of the civilian Department of Defense employees (the majority of which are women) and of so-called non-combat military forces (i.e women). Even insisting students pay interest on student loans while they are in college hits young women more than men since men are less dependent than women on college loans for their education.

Social Security has not caused the deficit problem. In fact, Social Security has accumulated a massive surplus. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, "To prepare for the retirement of the baby boom, Social Security system has accumulated a surplus of $2.6 trillion (in 2010)." The U.S. cannot balance its books on the backs of older women, the disabled, and the middle class while it provides tax cuts and tax breaks to the super rich and to mega, multinational corporations.

Most of its suggestions are to reduce spending rather than to increase revenue as it places the burden on middle-class Americans, especially women, and protects the skyrocketing profits of the richest Americans. Obvious solutions such as raising the cap on FICA or Social Security withholding tax to include more of the income of the highest paid Americans (i.e. mostly men) was not suggested. The proposal rejects the basic principles of a progressive income tax, which is the staple of a fair or just taxation system and it reduces corporate income taxes yet again.

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