WASHINGTON--Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and wife Michelle focus in coming days at wooing female voters. As a trade-off for helping her pay off campaign debts, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) appears at a "Women for Obama" fund-raiser in New York on Thursday.
From the Obama campaign...
CHICAGO, IL—Over the next two days, Barack and Michelle Obama will hold campaign events to highlight Obama’s plan to provide economic security for America’s working women. Obama’s plan directly addresses the challenges that women and families face affording quality child care, juggling personal and professional commitments, and coping with soaring prices.
“I don’t accept an America where a woman earns less than a man for the same work, or an America that makes women choose between their kids and their careers. It’s unacceptable that women are denied jobs or promotions because they’ve got kids at home. It’s unacceptable that 22 million working women don’t have a single paid sick day,” Senator Obama said. “When I’m President, we’ll take these critical issues head-on and help women and families thrive in a changing economy.”
On Thursday, Senator Obama will attend a women’s fundraiser in New York with Senator Hillary Clinton and focus on his economic security plan at a town hall meeting with women in Fairfax, Virginia.
Michelle Obama will hold women’s roundtables in Pontiac, Michigan and Kansas City, Missouri today and tomorrow to discuss the challenges facing working women and families—and the relief they’d see under an Obama presidency.
Obama’s Plan for Economic Security for America’s Working Women
Ø Tax cut for working women. Barack Obama will provide 71 million working women with a tax cut of up to $500—or $1000 per family—to help offset the impact of stagnant wages and skyrocketing costs.
Ø Balancing work and family. Obama will help address the challenge of balancing work and family by guaranteeing seven days of paid sick leave to the 22 million working women who currently have none. Obama will also expand child care tax credits, double funding for afterschool programs to serve 1 million more children, and will create a summer learning program to serve an additional 1 million young people.
Ø Health care for every American. As President, Obama will reduce health care costs by $2,500 for a typical family, while providing affordable health care for every American.
Ø A secure retirement guaranteed. Obama will strengthen retirement security for working women, who currently enter retirement with less than half the retirement savings of men. Obama’s plan will automatically enroll workers in retirement accounts (with the option to opt-out) and make these accounts portable to help working parents save while balancing their family obligations.
Ø Equal Pay. Obama will fight for paycheck equity and to close the pay gap that leaves women earning only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. The pay gap is even more pronounced for minority working women—with Hispanic women earning only 53 cents and African American women only 62 cents for every dollar of male earnings.
Ø Affordable college. Obama will put the cost of college in reach for by providing a $4,000 refundable tax credit available at the time of enrollment in exchange for community service.
Ø Raise the minimum wage. Obama will help low-wage working women move into the middle class by increasing the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011, and indexing it to inflation—and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Ø Support Women-Owned Small Businesses: Obama will help women-owned small businesses innovate, grow and create jobs by cutting their capital gains tax rate to zero, and implementing the Women Owned Business contracting program that has been abandoned by the Bush Administration.
from the Obama campaign.....
ECONOMIC SECURITY FOR AMERICA’S WORKING WOMEN
The American dream is increasingly out of reach for many people, including far too many women and their
families. Despite decades of progress, women still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes – with
Latino and African-American women earning even less. Women have experienced stagnating wages, declining
health care coverage, erosion of pension protections, rising personal debt and have watched jobs disappear as a
result of global competition and rising housing costs. As larger percentages of women have entered the
workforce, working hours have grown longer and family caregiving obligations have been stretched. Most
American workers cannot adjust their work schedules to handle a family emergency without the risk of losing
their jobs or take a day off to care for a sick or newborn child without the risk of losing pay or vacation days.
Barack Obama will enact an economic security agenda for America’s working women that will:
Provide 71 million working women with a tax cut of up to $500 – or $1000 per family – to help offset
the impact of stagnant wages and skyrocketing costs.
Address the challenge of balancing work and family by guaranteeing seven days of paid sick leave to the
22 million working women who currently have none. Obama will also expand the Child and Dependent
Care tax credit to an additional 7.5 million working women, double funding for afterschool programs to
serve 1 million more children, and will provide summer learning opportunities to an additional 1 million
Reduce health care costs by $2,500 for a typical family, while providing affordable health care for every
Strengthen retirement security for working women, who currently enter retirement with less than half
the retirement savings of men. Obama’s plan will automatically enroll workers in retirement accounts
(with the option to opt-out) and make these accounts portable to help working parents save while
balancing their family obligations.
Promote paycheck equity and help close the pay gap that leaves women earning only 77 cents for every
dollar earned by men. The pay gap is even more pronounced for minority working women – with
Hispanic women earning only 53 cents and African American women only 62 cents for every dollar of
Put the cost of college in reach for by providing a $4,000 refundable tax credit available at the time of
enrollment in exchange for community service.
Help low-wage working women move into the middle class by increasing the minimum wage to $9.50
by 2011, and indexing it to inflation, and by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
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JOHN MCCAIN’S PLATFORM DOES NOT SUPPORT WOMEN
John McCain’s “policy platform is clearly at odds with the needs and hopes of many American women,” a
report by the Center for American Progress found.1 John McCain:
• Opposes legislation to fix a Supreme Court Decision that made it harder for women to file civil right suits
for equal pay under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. He even skipped an important vote on the issue.2
• Repeatedly opposed increasing the minimum wage, even though 60 percent of minimum wage workers are
• Repeatedly voted to cut the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – which Ronald Reagan called “the best anti-
poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”4
• Has no plan to expand paid leave and sick leave for working Americans.
• Has no plan to help parents juggle work and family, such as making high-quality childcare more affordable.
And he has repeatedly voted against increasing funding for child care and Head Start.5
• Has no plan to provide immediate tax relief for middle-class working families. Instead, John McCain has
offered a regressive tax policy that overwhelmingly benefits the wealthiest Americans and corporations.6
THE OBAMA PLAN TO SUPPORT WORKING WOMEN AND FAMILIES
Fight for Pay Equity: Throughout his career, Barack Obama has championed the right of women to receive
equal pay for equal work. In the Illinois State Senate, Obama cosponsored and voted for the Illinois Equal Pay
Act, which provided 330,000 more women protection from pay discrimination. In the U.S. Senate, Obama
joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Fair Pay Restoration Act, a bill to overturn the U.S.
Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. The bill would restore
the clear intent of Congress that workers must have a reasonable time to file a pay discrimination claim after
they become victims of discriminatory compensation. Obama is also a cosponsor of Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-
IA) Fair Pay Act. As president, Obama will continue to promote paycheck equity and work to close the wage
gap between men and women.
Increase the Minimum Wage to $9.50 by 2011: Women are the largest group of beneficiaries from a
minimum wage increase. Barack Obama believes that people who work full time should not live in poverty.
Before the Democrats took back Congress, the minimum wage had not changed in 10 years. Even though the
minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage’s real purchasing power will still be
below what it was in 1968. As president, Obama will further raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011
and index it to inflation.
Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit: Barack Obama will reward work by increasing the number of
working parents eligible for EITC benefits, increasing the benefit available to parents who support their children
through child support payments, increasing the benefit for families with three or more children and reducing the
EITC marriage penalty which hurts low-income families. Under the Obama plan, full-time workers making
minimum wage would get an EITC benefit up to $555, more than three times greater than the $175 benefit they
get today. If the workers are responsibly supporting their children on child support, the Obama plan would give
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those workers a benefit of $1,110. The Obama plan would also increase the EITC benefit for those families that
are most likely to be in poverty – families with three or more children. Obama was the lead sponsor of
bipartisan legislation in Illinois to create a state EITC which provided more than $100 million in pro-work tax
breaks to Illinois families.7
Provide a Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to an additional 7.5 Million Women: The Child and
Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that struggle to afford child care expenses.
Currently the credit only covers up to 35 percent of the first $3,000 of child care expenses a family incurs for
one child and the first $6,000 for a family with two or more children. And the credit is not refundable, which
means that upper-income families disproportionately benefit while families who make under $50,000 a year
receive less than a third of the tax credit. Barack Obama will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child
Provide 7 Paid Sick Days to 22 Million Working Women: Women are overrepresented in part-time and low-
wage positions that lack paid sick leave benefits. As a result, over 22 million working women do not have a
single paid sick day.8 In industries like retail and accommodations/food services, more than half (55 percent
and 78 percent, respectively) of working women have no sick days. These women are forced to choose between
foregoing pay to care for an ill family member or for themselves, or going to work when they should remain
home. Barack Obama believes that this choice is morally wrong and unacceptable. As president, Obama will
require that employers provide seven paid sick days per year. .
Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA covers only certain employees of
employers with 50 or more employees. As a result, only about half of American workers are eligible for leave
under the FMLA. Barack Obama will expand the FMLA to cover businesses with 25 or more employees.
Obama will expand the FMLA to cover more purposes as well, including: to care for elderly parents; to
participate in children’s school-related activities; and to address domestic violence and sexual assault.
Encourage States to Adopt Paid Leave: According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, 78
percent of employees covered by the FMLA who have needed leave but have not taken it report that it is
because they could not afford to take unpaid leave. Of those employees who could not afford leave, nearly 88
percent report that they would have taken leave if they had been able to receive some pay while away from
work. Barack Obama will initiate a 50 state strategy to encourage all of the states to adopt paid-leave systems.
Obama will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for
employees and employers. Obama’s Department of Labor will also provide technical information to the states
on how to craft paid-leave programs consistent with their local needs.
Protect Against Caregiver Discrimination: Workers with family obligations often are discriminated against
in the workplace. This is a growing problem, as evidenced by the skyrocketing number of discrimination suits
being filed: there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of family responsibility discrimination lawsuits
in the last decade. Barack Obama will prevent parents from being discriminated against because of caregiving
responsibilities. Obama will commit the government to enforcing recently-enacted Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission guidelines on caregiver discrimination.
Expand Flexible Work Arrangements: Working parents often have to juggle not only child care
responsibilities, but also care responsibilities for elderly relatives. Barack Obama will address this concern by
creating a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules for productivity and
establishing positive workplaces; helping businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increasing federal
incentives for telecommuting. Obama will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of
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adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to petition to request flexible arrangements. This
program has achieved great success in Great Britain, and Obama will replicate it throughout the federal
Expand High-Quality Afterschool and Summer Learning Opportunities: Barack Obama will double
funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to
serve one million more children. Obama will include measures to maximize performance and effectiveness
across grantees nationwide. Additionally, Obama will create a new summer program that supports partnerships
between schools, community groups, and faith-based organizations to provide summer opportunities to an
additional 1 million children.
Create Automatic Workplace Pensions: Currently, 75 million working Americans – roughly half the
workforce – lack employer-based retirement plans. Only half of female workers have access to an employer-
based retirement plan, and only 39 percent participate in those plans.9 Even when workers are given the option
of joining employer-based plans, many do not take up the option because it requires considerable work to
research plans and investment portfolios, and enroll in the plan. Barack Obama’s retirement security plan will
automatically enroll workers in a workplace pension plan. Under his plan, employers who do not currently
offer a retirement plan, will be required to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA account that is
compatible to existing direct-deposit payroll systems. Employees may opt-out by signing a written waiver.
Obama’s plan will give options to the self-employed and new small businesses to access new easy-to-enroll
savings plans and direct the IRS to deposit tax refunds into those savings plans for people who choose to save
some of their refunds. Under the Obama plan when employees change jobs, their savings will be automatically
rolled over into the new employer’s system to ensure continued savings. Experts estimate that this program will
increase the savings participation rate for low and middle-income workers from its current 15 percent level to
around 80 percent.
Expand Retirement Savings Incentives for Working Families: Women are less likely than men to have
significant income from pensions and other savings at retirement.10 Barack Obama will ensure savings
incentives are fair to all workers by creating a generous savings match for low and middle-income Americans.
Obama will expand the existing Savers Credit to match 50 percent of the first $1,000 of savings for families that
earn under $75,000, and he will make the tax credit refundable. To help ensure that this proposal actually
strengthens retirement investments, the savings match will be automatically deposited into designated personal
accounts by using the account information listed on IRS tax filings. Coupled with the automatic workplace
pension plan, this proposal will stimulate tens of millions of new Americans to invest for retirement. Over 80
percent of the savings incentives will go to new savers, and 75 percent of people eligible for the incentives who
are expected to participate in the new program do not currently save.
Make College Affordable for All Americans: A college education is increasingly vital for success in the
American economy. Barack Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American
Opportunity Tax Credit. This fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is
completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college
or university. Obama will ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using
prior year’s tax data to deliver the credit at the time that tuition is due, rather than a year or more later when tax
returns are filed. He will make it easier to apply for financial aid by allowing families to submit their aid
information by simply checking a box on their tax form. And he will work to ensure that the maximum Pell
Grant award is increased for low-income students and will eliminate federal subsidies to private student loan
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Center for American Progress Action Fund, 06/11/08 http://thinkprogress.org/wonkroom/wp-
Associated Press, 04/24/08
1989 2006 Senate Vote #179, 6/21/2006; 2005 Senate Vote #257, 10/19/2005; 2005 Senate Vote #26, 3/7/2005; 1999 Senate Vote
#94, 4/28/1999; 1998 Senate Vote #278, 9/22/1998; 1996 Senate Vote #58, 3/28/1996; 1996 Senate Vote #184, 7/9/1996; 1996 Senate
Vote #186, 7/9/1996; 1995 Senate Vote #344, 7/31/1995; 1995 Senate Vote #519, 10/27/1995; 1989 Senate Vote #29, 4/11/1989;
1989 Senate Vote #39, 4/12/1989; 1989 Senate Vote #68, 5/17/1989; http://thinkprogress.org/wonkroom/wp-
http://www.ncsl.org/programs/wln/EITCproject.htm; 1995 Senate Vote #501, 10/26/95; UPI, 10/26/95; 1995 Senate Vote #556,
10/27/95; Boston Globe, 10/28/95; 1995 Senate Vote #176, 5/23/95; Associated Press, 5/24/95
2003 Senate Vote #90, 3/25/03; 1997 Senate Vote #153, 6/27/97; 195 Senate Vote #406, 9/11/95; 1989 Senate Vote #94, 6/22/89;
2005 Senate Vote #272, 10/26/05; 2003 Senate Vote #333, 9/9/03; 2003 Senate Vote #86, 3/25/03; 2001 Senate Vote #154, 5/22/01;
1997 Senate Vote #229, 9/10/97; 1992 Senate Vote #106, 5/21/92; 1991 Senate Vote #182, 9/10/91; 1989 Senate Vote #199, 9/21/89
Chicago Tribune, 2/29/04.