The feminist National Organization for Women (NOW) is concerned that without a significant amount of female leadership in the room, the debt deals currently in the works will disproportionately hurt women.
According to NOW, without input from female leaders the male decision-makers have let women’s budget priorities fall by the wayside.
“If there were more women in leadership roles these drastic cuts would not be on the table,” NOW president Terry O’Neill told The Daily Caller. (RELATED: Hill Republicans tee off on Obama’s debt ceiling speech)
O’Neill argued that while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been participating, she has been outweighed by all the male leaders — even with a Democratic president and Senate.
“[With more female consideration] the staggering number of women reliant on these programs would be headline news,” O’Neill added. “Right now women make up just 17 percent of members in Congress and it is clear that women are not high on the list of considerations.”
The feminist organization believes that the cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that congressional leaders are currently floating will leave millions of women in financial trouble. NOW leaders note that as a group, women depend more on government money than men.
According to NOW and their allies, 57 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are women, and women over 85 represent 80 percent of Medicare recipients. Women also rely heavily on Social Security, making up 58 percent of beneficiaries over 62 and 71 percent of beneficiaries at age 85. Further, women comprise 78 percent of nursing home residents. NOW fears that cuts to Medicaid would leave their future in jeopardy.
Instead of cuts to social programs, NOW is pushing for for tax increases on corporations and millionaires.
“NOW has long insisted that any deficit reduction plan must require corporations and multi-millionaires to pay their fair share in taxes,” O’Neill added in a statement. “I hope that President Obama will do the right thing — which the vast majority of people in this country support — leave Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and other essential programs alone and out of the debt deal.”
According to O’Neill the country is not facing a debt crisis, but rather a jobs crisis. Cuts to what NOW see as lifelines for women will not help this problem, they maintain.
“We don’t have a debt crisis, we have a jobs crisis,” O’Neill said. “Until we get that under control we don’t really need to be haggling over the debt. Let’s get people back to work before we start making such large cuts that will hurt so many, especially women.”