Statement on President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction

Oct 13, 2011

Statement of the Older Women’s Economic Security Task Force of the National Council of Women’s Organizations on the President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction The Older Women's Economic Security (OWES) Task Force of the National Coalition of Women's Organizations (NCWO) applauds President Obama for setting forth a plan to rebuild the nation’s shaky economy that includes important provisions for women and a deficit reduction proposal that requires the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes and insists that Social Security remain intact. By calling for the extension of unemployment insurance benefits, the prevention of up to 280,000 teacher layoffs, the renovation of 35,000 schools, investment in transportation infrastructure, and the creation of subsidized employment programs and job training opportunities that could connect many low-income women to work, the President’s plan would help to spur economic growth, create jobs, and alleviate the economic hardship faced by many women and their families across the nation.
The President’s American Jobs Act recognizes that getting Americans back to work is of paramount importance. Too many Americans are unemployed, and too many women have seen their jobs disappear or have struggled with economic insecurity and wage discrimination. While the recession may have led to more lost jobs among men, women are bearing the brunt of a slow recovery as local and state budget cuts disproportionately affect majority-female jobs such as teaching and social work.[i] As Congress considers the best way to jumpstart a slowing recovery and reduce unemployment, its Members must hear this: job creation and economic opportunity are critical issues for women.

OWES believes that in addition to creating jobs, any plan to spur economic recovery must safeguard and strengthen social programs that protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Recent reports that 46.2 million Americans – 15.1 percent of the population – live at or below the poverty level demonstrate the vital nature of such programs, especially in times of economic stress. Programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP (Food Stamps), WIC, TANF, and housing and child care assistance are all vital to women and their families. Furthermore, funding to fully implement the Affordable Care Act must be protected to expand women’s access to affordable health care.

Social Security is an essential source of income for older women; more than half of older women would fall into poverty without Social Security’s current benefits. Women are two-thirds of retirees aged 85 and older. The average monthly Social Security check for women is about $1,000, and half of women aged 65 and older rely on Social Security for at least 80 percent of their income.[ii] Social Security also provides benefits to many younger women and children, who receive disability, survivor, and family benefits.

Given the critical importance of Social Security to women, OWES urges our nation’s political leaders to rule out the inclusion of Social Security in any proposal to reduce the federal budget deficit. Social Security did not cause the deficit and should not be blamed for America’s financial problems. In poll after poll, Americans across the political and age spectrums affirm that they do not mind paying Social Security taxes because they value the benefits the program provides. Americans do not want to see Social Security or Medicare benefits cut in the name of deficit reduction.

As our nation continues to deal with the ongoing effects of the recent recession, OWES will work to promote job creation and economic opportunity for all Americans, especially women, and to ensure that programs that assist vulnerable Americans are protected and strengthened. We commend the president for his leadership, and we strongly urge our congressional leaders to take quick action to spur economic growth and reduce the hardships faced by so many women and their families.

Co-Chair, OWES
President, National Organization for Women
for Women’s Policy Research
Co-Chair, OWES
President, Institute

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The National Council of Women's Organizations is composed of more than 240 women's organizations representing more than 12 million U.S. women. The Older Women's Economic Security (OWES) Task Force was formed in 1998 to study, monitor, and act to enhance older women's economic security. The National Organization for Women and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) are co-chairs of the OWES Task Force.

Member Organizations of the Older Women’s Economic Security Task Force:

American Association of University Women
Black Women’s Health Imperative
Business and Professional Women Foundation
Center of Concern
Dialogue on Diversity
Feminist Majority
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Jewish Women International
Media Equity Collaborative
National Alliance for Caregiving
National Association for Female Executives
National Association of Mothers’ Centers
National Organization of Women (NOW)
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Women’s Law Center
National Women’s Political Caucus
Older Women’s League
US Women’s Chamber of Commerce
Wider Opportunities for Women
Women’s Committee of 100
Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement
Women’s Research and Education Institute
YWCA USA
  1. Institute for Women’s Policy Research. 2011. “Job Gap Between Women and Men Persists in August.” Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. <http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/job-gap-between-women-and-men-persists-in-august> (accessed September 30, 2011); Institute for Women’s Policy Research. 2011. “The Job Loss Tsunami of the Great Recession: Wave Recedes for Men, Not for Women.” Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (accessed September 30, 2011); National Women’s Law Center. 2011. “Second Anniversary of the Recovery Shows No Job Growth for Women. (accessed October 5, 2011).
  2. Hartmann, Heidi, Jeff Hayes, and Robert Drago. 2011. Social Security Especially Vital to Women and People of Color, Men Increasingly Reliant. Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (accessed September 30, 2011).