The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform voted this morning on a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $828 billion or cutting it in half by the year 2015. Eleven of 18 members or 61 percent voted yes on the plan, which fell short of the 14 votes required for the proposal to be definitely voted on by the House and Senate.
Voting for the plan were three Democrats. Most surprisingly was progressive Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). Durbin said he was opposed to many elements of the plan and would not vote as is for final passage. But he thought, "politicians on the left and right have to acknowledge the deficit crisis our nation faces," so he wanted to process to proceed, "to begin the debate."
The plan, introduced by commission co-chairs Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Erksine Bowles (D-NC), would disproportionately cut programs whose recipients are primarily women, such as Social Security and Medicare, while it cuts corporate taxes.
Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) voted no on the proposal and criticized it for its "alarming redistribution of wealth that is shrinking the middle class." She also presented her plan that would reduce the deficit without hurting the middle class or the vulnerable.
Women's rights groups, including the National Organization for Women, OWL the Voice of Midlife and Older Women, and the Feminist Majority expressed their outrage when the initial proposal was introduced in mid November.
The plan was moderated because of such criticism. For example, the plan would raise the age of eligibility for collecting social security - but now includes hardship waivers, proposed by commission member Senator Durbin, for seniors whose jobs require physical labor. The waivers, it is estimated, would affect some 20 percent of seniors.
Media Resources: Feminist Majority 12/3/10; Washington Post 12/2/10, CNN 12/3/10; NPR 12/3/10
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .