Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS movement to politicize women<p> Last weekend, millions of women took part in the protests that were organized across the country to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Women&#39;s March and President Trump&#39;s inauguration. This was an explicitly partisan event: It was dubbed Power to the Polls and focused on electing Democrats, particularly a swell of women, in the upcoming mid-term elections.</p> <p> There&#39;s nothing wrong with a political rally and Democratic women can be proud of their ability to generate so much enthusiasm and turnout.</p> <p> Yet it&#39;s also important for people to recognize these events for what they are. While the Left uses the name &ldquo;Women&#39;s March,&rdquo; it was never a march supporting or representing women, but rather about championing progressive causes and their champions (male or female).</p> <p> The Women&#39;s March is about electing Democrats. It&#39;s as simple as that.</p> <p> The &ldquo;Women&#39;s March&rdquo; certainly doesn&rsquo;t welcome the four-in-10 female voters who cast their ballots for Trump in the 2016 election. It explicitly excludes anyone who disagrees with the most progressive position on reproductive rights. They aren&#39;t in the business of defending women like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, or any of the other women on the right who are belittled by the mainstream media and celebrity culture, who otherwise like to preen about wanting women to get involved in public life and claim to oppose sexism. They shame them and defend only women who agree with their political agenda.</p> <p> And many women don&#39;t agree with that agenda. About 70 percent of women (and men) are happy that the most comprehensive tax reform in decades became law, leaving their families with more take-home pay and better job prospects. Many have been thrilled to see the rollback of unnecessary government regulation. Many women are concerned that our broken immigration system is harming the prospects of Americans, straining community resources, and leaving us vulnerable to attack, and hope that the president makes progress there too.</p> <p> Organizers of the &ldquo;Women&#39;s March&rdquo; ignore these women, but the media shouldn&#39;t. Too often, the Left gets away with the suggestion that they speak for &ldquo;women&rdquo; as a whole, as if women are a monolith and are accurately represented by the New York City and Hollywood glitterati that headline these events.</p> <p> That&#39;s insulting to women who are a diverse group, with wide-ranging opinions about policy and politics.</p> <p> Moreover, allowing the Left to claim to represent women threatens to undermine areas of bipartisan agreement. During this past year, people on the right and the left have applauded #MeToo women and men who have come forward to speak about sexual assault and harassment that has been prevalent in many industries and workplaces. There has been a bipartisan consensus that this shouldn&#39;t be tolerated. Republicans and Democrats alike have been forced to step down from the positions that they hold due to revelations of sexual misconduct. While these events have had political implications, such as impacting the special election in Alabama, they haven&#39;t been overtly partisan.</p> <p> Yet organizers of the Women&#39;s March seem interested in co-opting the cause as their own and using it to advance reforms that have nothing to do with sexual assault and harassment. It&#39;s worth debating the causes of women and men&#39;s differences in earnings, if regulations would help women earn more or backfire on them, and the best paid leave and childcare policies. But those issues and potential reforms are separate from workplace violence and sexual harassment.</p> <p> Yes, the Women&#39;s March is an impressive movement. Their views deserve respect. But women outside of the Women&#39;s March deserve respect and coverage too.</p> <p> Pretending that all women think alike or march under one political banner isn&#39;t progress; it&#39;s stereotyping.</p> L. LukasTue, 23 Jan 2018 15:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum#WomensMarch Celebrates Trump’s Inauguration Anniversary<p> Women across the country staged marches to celebrate the one- year anniversary of the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump. The economy&nbsp;<a href="">is booming</a>, consumer confidence has rocketed out of the national malaise of the Obama years and is at&nbsp;<a href="">a 17 year high</a>. Unemployment numbers of&nbsp;<a href="">women</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="">African Americans</a>&nbsp;are at a historic low, and the unemployment rate of the general workforce is likely to drop to its lowest&nbsp;<a href="">since 1969</a>&nbsp;by 2019. Sounds like the past year deserves a celebration.</p> <p> Oh, wait. That&rsquo;s not what happened at all. The pink pussy hat brigade revived itself after months of&nbsp;<a href="">psychotherapy</a>,&nbsp;<a href="">screaming at the sky</a>, and ugly social media posts to take to the streets of American cities Saturday. In my city of Houston, a local news station sent out a tweet with quotes from the mayor (@SylvesterTurner) and the police chief (@ArtAcevedo) &ndash; both Democrats &ndash; with a plea for more women in elected office and don&rsquo;t forget &ldquo;we&rsquo;re in Texas&rdquo;.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <a href="">&ldquo;#WomensMarch2018</a>&nbsp;Houston City Leaders rocked the crowd today at City Hall. &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s elect a whole lot of women to positions of power!&rdquo; &ndash;&nbsp;<a href="">@SylvesterTurner</a>&nbsp;&ldquo;You cannot stop humanity from moving forward. And, let&rsquo;s not forget, we&rsquo;re in Texas. Don&rsquo;t forget our history.&rdquo; &ndash;&nbsp;<a href="">@ArtAcevedo&rdquo;</a></p> <p> Thanks for the mansplaining, guys. While I, too, would like to see more women in elected office, make no mistake. These two men are not imploring conservative women to run for office. The Women&rsquo;s March has made it perfectly clear that only women of liberal political philosophy are welcome. For instance, pro-life women are not welcomed. Did I miss the supportive quotes for the annual March for Life yesterday from these guys? The Women&rsquo;s March organization is&nbsp;<a href="">a progressive women&rsquo;s organization.</a>&nbsp;<span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">(Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum)</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> The women who went to the Women&rsquo;s March in D.C. last year were concerned about what the new president would mean for the country. Many were understandably disappointed that Hillary Clinton had failed to become the first female president. They were disturbed by recordings of the president&rsquo;s crude remarks on the infamous &ldquo;Billy Bush tape,&rdquo; as well as his tweets and other statements about women. They didn&rsquo;t know what policies the president would enact and had been encouraged by activists and many media figures to expect the worst.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Yet a year later, while the president continues to make rash tweets and pick personal fights that seem juvenile, the worst fears of those who took part in that initial Women&rsquo;s March haven&rsquo;t been realized.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> There hasn&rsquo;t been a roll back of women&rsquo;s rights, and the government&rsquo;s checks and balances remain firmly in place. The president has made meaningful progress in rescinding executive orders issued by Barrack Obama, which had massively expanded government&rsquo;s power without legislative approval and created a thicket of red tape that slowed the economy. As a result of this and the important tax reform package passed last year, the economy, at long last, is improving, more people are working and wages appear set to finally start to climb.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> That&rsquo;s good news for everyone, especially women who now are primary or sole breadwinners for more than 40 percent of U.S. homes and manage household budgets.</p> <p> What rights have women lost? There are none. This president doesn&rsquo;t even threaten to try to do away with Roe v Wade. With the economy growing and thriving, all people, including women benefit. Women business owners benefit from&nbsp;<a href="">aggressive de-regulation</a>. Just as political strategist James Carville once said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the economy, stupid.&rdquo; Americans vote their pocketbooks and that probably has the left quite concerned. I&rsquo;m old enough to remember being told if Trump won the election, the stock market would crash and we&rsquo;d all be living on the streets.</p> <p> As is his style, Trump took to Twitter to send a perfect message to the marchers:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &ldquo;Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!&rdquo;</p> <p> The main event was organized&nbsp;<a href="">in Nevada</a>.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Organizers chose Nevada to host the main event this year because it &ldquo;was rocked by the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, recent sexual assault allegations against elected officials and has become a battleground state that will shape the Senate in 2018,&rdquo; according to the&nbsp;<a href="">Women&rsquo;s March website</a>.</p> <p> What? The Las Vegas shooting tragedy is Trump&rsquo;s fault? Of course not. They just weren&rsquo;t able to be honest and just use the real excuse on its own &ndash; Nevada is a swing state.</p> <p> March all you want, ladies. Just stop pretending it&rsquo;s a march for all women. Hillary Clinton won Nevada in November 2016 but not the presidency. For me, that&rsquo;s some real cause to celebrate every day.</p> L. LukasSat, 20 Jan 2018 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLas Vegas women’s march more about promoting progressive politics<p style="margin-left:9.0pt;"> Women are gathering in Las Vegas this weekend to protest the Trump administration. This event also marks the first anniversary of the Women&rsquo;s March, which took place in Washington, D.C., for Trump&rsquo;s inauguration and drew more than 1 million participants.</p> <p style="margin-left:9pt;"> The women who went to the Women&rsquo;s March in D.C. last year were concerned about what the new president would mean for the country. Many were understandably disappointed that Hillary Clinton had failed to become the first female president. They were disturbed by recordings of the president&rsquo;s crude remarks on the infamous &ldquo;Billy Bush tape,&rdquo; as well as his tweets and other statements about women. They didn&rsquo;t know what policies the president would enact and had been encouraged by activists and many media figures to expect the worst.</p> <p style="margin-left:9pt;"> Yet a year later, while the president continues to make rash tweets and pick personal fights that seem juvenile, the worst fears of those who took part in that initial Women&rsquo;s March haven&rsquo;t been realized.</p> <p style="margin-left:9pt;"> There hasn&rsquo;t been a roll back of women&rsquo;s rights, and the government&rsquo;s checks and balances remain firmly in place. The president has made meaningful progress in rescinding executive orders issued by Barrack Obama, which had massively expanded government&rsquo;s power without legislative approval and created a thicket of red tape that slowed the economy. As a result of this and the important tax reform package passed last year, the economy, at long last, is improving, more people are working and wages appear set to finally start to climb.</p> <p style="margin-left:9pt;"> That&rsquo;s good news for everyone, especially women who now are primary or sole breadwinners for more than 40 percent of U.S. homes and manage household budgets.</p> <p style="margin-left:9pt;"> But other major goals set forth by the president have stalled: comprehensive health care reform didn&rsquo;t pass the Senate, and the courts have blocked the president&rsquo;s proposed limits on immigration and travel. Supporters are frustrated by the slow pace of change, but everyone should take comfort that the checks on executive power are working and the pace of change is slow and deliberative, just as our founders intended.</p> <p style="margin-left:9pt;"> The Women&rsquo;s March, however, was never really focused on defending the constitutional system or concerned about the abuse of power &mdash; or even advancing the cause of women more broadly. It has always been an entirely political movement, which it made explicit this year, using the tagline &ldquo;Power to the Poll&rdquo; and boasting of supporting Democrats&rsquo; political prospects.</p> <p style="margin-left:9pt;"> That is their right. There&rsquo;s nothing wrong with a rally bringing left-leaning women together to fight for the policy agenda and candidates they support. Yet the media ought to recognize that this isn&rsquo;t really an inclusive Women&rsquo;s March, but a political event that represents the views of a subset of Americans. &ldquo;Women&rdquo; is used as a convenient political slogan. They certainly don&rsquo;t speak for or represent all women, or even a majority of women. They certainly don&rsquo;t represent women such as me.</p> <p style="margin-left:9pt;"> Unfortunately, public discussions of women in politics and policy often stereotype women as a monolithic group &mdash; as if, just because women share a similar biology, we must also share a certain political perspective, too. This was the troubling assumption behind too many spokespeople for Hillary Clinton who took for granted that women ought to support her just out of solidarity for the shared sex. It also underpinned Michelle Obama&rsquo;s statement that &ldquo;any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice.&rdquo;</p> <p style="margin-left:9pt;"> That&rsquo;s an insult to women. Women aren&rsquo;t a political monolith. In fact, four in 10 female voters supported Trump in 2016. Many women &mdash; just like men! &mdash; evaluated facts and the arguments they heard and reached the conclusion that they supported the policies Trump promised to advance over the agenda pushed by Clinton.</p> <p style="margin-left:9.0pt;"> Many women worry that the regulations and policies promoted by Democrats and the organizers of the Women&rsquo;s March would backfire on women, leaving them with fewer job opportunities and dragging down wages. Many women have been thrilled to see tax cuts and the roll back of unnecessary government regulation. Many women are concerned that our broken immigration system is harming the prospects of Americans, straining community resources and leaving us vulnerable to attack. They hope that the president makes progress there too.</p> <p style="margin-left:9pt;"> This is something the media should keep this in mind when covering the so-called &ldquo;Women&rsquo;s March&rdquo; in Las Vegas. Women aren&rsquo;t a special interest with just one agenda. Women have varied opinions on matters of politics and public policies. Pretending otherwise and pigeonholing women isn&rsquo;t progress; it&rsquo;s old fashion stereotyping.</p> L. LukasThu, 18 Jan 2018 11:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHas #MeToo gone too far? Ansari story sparks debate<p itemprop="articleBody"> The #MeToo movement has been embraced by legions of women as a vital step toward countering widespread sexual abuse and misconduct. This week, more so than at any point in the movement&#39;s brief history, there&#39;s visceral discussion about its potential for causing harm.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> The catalyst was the publication by of an account by a woman identified only as &quot;Grace&quot; detailing her 2017 encounter with comedian&nbsp;<a href="">Aziz Ansari</a>. The article intimated that Ansari deserved inclusion in the ranks of abusive perpetrators, yet many readers &mdash; women and men &mdash; concluded the encounter amounted to an all-too-common instance of bad sex during a date gone awry.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> Ansari has said he apologized immediately after the woman told him about her discomfort during an encounter he believed to be consensual.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> &quot;Too many women have joined #MeToo too quickly and unthinkingly,&quot; said Carole Lieberman, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author of the relationship books &quot;Bad Boys&quot; and &quot;Bad Girls.&quot;</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> &quot;Though they may have wanted to be in solidarity with other women, the stories of dates gone wrong or women scorned have detracted from women who have been raped or seriously sexually assaulted,&quot; she said.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody" style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">A conservative analyst, Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women&#39;s Forum, said Ansari &quot;believed that everything that occurred with his accuser was consensual and welcomed.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p itemprop="articleBody" style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;His reputation is now in tatters,&quot; Lukas wrote in an email. &quot;Is that really fair?&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> Online and in person, many women are talking about experiences comparable to Grace&#39;s account &mdash; encounters with men who initially seemed wonderful, but turned pushy, if not criminally abusive, when things became sexual.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> Sarah Hosseini, who writes about sex for Bustle, Romper, Scary Mommy and Ravishly, said the #MeToo movement might actually benefit from the Grace/Ansari controversy, and that the movement is big enough to encompass another layer in the discussion.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> &quot;There is some really murky and confusing sexual territory here that we haven&#39;t really talked about yet collectively as a society,&quot; she wrote, adding that the woman&#39;s account in Babe was &quot;disgusting and cringe-worthy.&quot;</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> &quot;What she experienced with Ansari is not OK. But do we have language yet for intimate encounters that teeter on the edge of absolute&nbsp;<a href="">sexual assault</a>/abuse?&quot; she wondered. &quot;I don&#39;t think we do. We&#39;ve lived in a&nbsp;<a href="">misogynistic</a>&nbsp;world with misogynistic sex for so long. We thought this &quot;bad sex&quot; was normal. Until someone spoke up and said, this is NOT normal. This is not OK.&quot;</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> Michael Cunningham, a psychology professor at the University of Louisville, said the Grace/Ansari encounter reflected misunderstandings that may arise due to differences between conventional dating relationships and hook-ups.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> &quot;It appears that Grace wanted Ansari to treat her as a potential girlfriend to be courted over multiple dates, rather than a pickup from a party engaging in a mutually acceptable transaction,&quot; Cunningham wrote in an email. &quot;When he did not rise to her expectations, she converted her understandable disappointment into a false #MeToo.&quot;</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> Liz Wolfe, managing editor of Young Voices, a D.C.-based organization that distributes op-eds by millennials, said the Ansari story gets at the core of what men and women are taught regarding dating, sex and romance. Men should pursue, women should play hard to get.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> &quot;So many women have wondered in a situation, &#39;Have I said &quot;no&quot; decisively enough?&#39;&quot; Wolfe said. &quot;They can&#39;t quite figure out whether they want to go forward or leave. ... And from the male perspective, he can&#39;t quite figure out what the woman wants.&quot;</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> Wolfe has noticed a generational divide in their reactions. Older women tend to think Grace should have been more vocal and assertive, or simply left Ansari&#39;s apartment. Younger women feel that Ansari should have read Grace&#39;s body language and listened to her more closely, and he was at fault for pressuring her.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> Among men, likewise, there are varying views.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> Tahir Duckett of ReThink, a nonprofit seeking to deter boys and young men from committing sexual assault, says the #MeToo movement &quot;is exactly where it needs to be&quot; as it continues to embolden victims.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> &quot;This moment absolutely calls for a changed approach to dating and courtship,&quot; he said. &quot;It means paying just as much attention to body language as we do to words, and stopping to check in if at any time you&#39;re anything less than 100 percent certain the other participant is as enthusiastic as you about what&#39;s going on.&quot;</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> However, Glenn Sacks, a commentator who writes often about men&#39;s issues, said the Ansari case buttresses his belief that #MeToo &quot;is lumping the trivial mistakes or misdeeds of the many in with the genuinely awful actions of a handful.&quot;</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> Warren Farrell, an early member of the National Organization for Women who more recently has authored such books as &quot;Why Men Are the Way they Are&quot; and &quot;The Boy Crisis,&quot; suggested that women should bear more of the responsibility for initiating sexual interest. And he recommended training in schools for each gender to view relationship issues from the other&#39;s perspective.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> &quot;When #MeToo focuses only on women complaining and not both sexes hearing each other, it reinforces the feeling of women as fragile snowflakes rather than empowered to speak, and empowered to listen,&quot; Farrell said. &quot;Boys and men, like girls and women, also grew up confused about what was expected of them sexually in a culture that did not make speaking about sex easy for either sex.&quot;</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> Alexandra Allred, an author and self-defense instructor in Dallas, groaned when she read Grace&#39;s account of her evening with Ansari.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> &quot;It really does sound like it was a mutual thing, but she thought about it later and she didn&#39;t enjoy herself,&quot; Allred said. &quot;But this is the story of millions of young women everywhere, where you just made a mistake. This does not belong to the #MeToo movement. She should have just kept this to herself.&quot;</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> As a supporter of the movement, Allred worries that this kind of story might generate a backlash and prompt skepticism when other women report abuses.</p> <p itemprop="articleBody"> &quot;This isn&#39;t show and tell,&quot; she said. &quot;This is a movement to educate people and hopefully stop the violence.&quot;</p> L. LukasThu, 18 Jan 2018 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump Fights for Women at "Women of America" Panel • Across America L. LukasWed, 17 Jan 2018 13:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon’t Politicize #MeToo <p> Major 2017 retrospectives all recognized that the avalanche of sexual-harassment allegations that brought down major media moguls, politicians, and journalists was among the year&rsquo;s most notable events. The #MeToo campaign demonstrated that problems with sexual harassment aren&rsquo;t limited to captains of industry but are a too common occurrence that affects women through all walks of life.</p> <p> Notably, while many of the biggest names exposed for their ill treatment of women were politicians or political commentators, these events weren&rsquo;t the partisan food fight that was otherwise 2017&rsquo;s norm. For the most part, people recognized that this is a bipartisan problem, and that every bad actor on the right would be matched by one on the left. Republicans and Democrats, and those disgusted with both parties and the politicization of everything, finally agreed on something: the need to take action so that sexual harassment and assault are no longer tolerated as a regrettable but inevitable in many workplaces.</p> <p> This consensus has the potential to help us create a climate that encourages greater civility and respect, and it could lead to real progress. Unfortunately, this momentum could stall if the movement becomes politicized.</p> <p> High-profile actresses and industry leaders (Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Shonda Rhimes, Ashely Judd, to name a few) just launched a new initiative called Time&rsquo;s Up to &ldquo;fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and blue-collar workplaces nationwide.&rdquo; The initiative&rsquo;s legal defense fund has already brought it $13 million, which it will use to help blue-collar women who face sexual harassment in the workplace. That&rsquo;s a very worthy cause. They are also focused on encouraging the elevation of more women in Hollywood and the media industry, where sexual harassment and discrimination appear particularly pervasive. That&rsquo;s important, too.</p> <p> Yet it&rsquo;s concerning that the Time&rsquo;s Up initiative adds combating &ldquo;inequality in the workplace&rdquo; to its goals, as if inequality and sexual harassment are inexorably related. Everyone across the political spectrum supports the principle of &ldquo;workplace equality,&rdquo; but the measures of equality are murky and easily politicized. And how best to advance workplace equality is an even more contentious and disputed topic.</p> <p> For example, Time&rsquo;s Up includes these statistics among its factoids meant to demonstrate the difficulties working women face:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> White non-Hispanic women are paid 81 cents on the dollar compared to white non-Hispanic men. Asian women are only paid 88 cents on the dollar. Black and Hispanic women are only paid 65 cents and 59 cents on the white male dollar, respectively.</p> <p> These &ldquo;wage gap&rdquo; statistics are commonly used as evidence of the extent of discrimination in the workplace. People are invited to assume that the women who earn a fraction of what the man earns are his co-workers, performing the same work at the same company during the same hours. The conclusion one is supposed to reach is that women are simply short-changed because of sexism.</p> <p> Yet the truth is much more complicated. Statistical differences in earnings are driven by differences in occupation, number of hours worked, and experience. It isn&rsquo;t simply that more men than women work in high-prestige, high-paying professions such as finance and engineering; more men than women also work in construction, trucking, and other professions that can be physically grueling and dangerous (men suffer more than 90 percent of workplace fatalities), but they are relatively well paid. Moreover, the average full-time working man spends a half an hour more each day on the job than the average full-time working woman. Yes, that&rsquo;s largely because the working woman spends more time on child care, but this shows that the issue isn&rsquo;t simply employer discrimination.</p> <p> Unsurprisingly, given the complicated causes of differences in earnings, there also isn&rsquo;t an easy legislative solution that would close the so-called wage gap. Sex-based discrimination is already illegal &mdash; and it&rsquo;s been illegal since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Nonetheless, the wage gap has persisted. In fact, the first bill President Obama signed in to law, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, was sold as a way to close the enduring wage gap. Measures commonly advanced as keys to closing the wage gap, such as new reporting requirements related to compensation or changes to facilitate litigation and the creation of class-action suits, are similarly unlikely to change these statistics, but would add to businesses&rsquo; paperwork burdens and could discourage hiring.</p> <p> This is a topic that people ought to continue to debate. Similarly, we should vigorously research and debate policies related to child care, paid-leave practices, scheduling and flextime, and other issues related to women workers and families. But let&rsquo;s debate these policies separately from the issue of sexual harassment and assault. Let&rsquo;s resist the temptation to use our outrage in behalf of sex-assault victims as justification for tying our favored policy reforms to the #MeToo cause. Sexual harassment deserves to be addressed on its own without being politicized.</p> <p> <em>&mdash; Carrie Lukas is the president of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em><br /> <br /> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 12 Jan 2018 04:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumProviding Paid Leave Benefits, Without Growing Government <p> People on the right and the left are concerned that some Americans don&rsquo;t have paid leave time off from work, which can create a particular hardship for new parents and people with family members facing a serious illness. The Trump campaign highlighted this as an issue that they planned to address during his presidency.</p> <p> The challenge has always been how to create a program that doesn&rsquo;t discourage employers from providing their own leave benefits, require new taxes (which would lower people&rsquo;s take home pay), or reduce job opportunities. These are all problems with the typical approach to the issue, which is to create a new entitlement program or&nbsp;mandate on employers.</p> <p> <a href="">Kristin Shapiro</a> has developed an innovative alternative approach: Reform the Social Security program so that people have the option of taking benefits for qualifying time off from work in exchange for delaying their retirement benefits to compensate for the benefits they receive while working.</p> <p> The benefits of the approach are many: Workers could be eligible to receive benefits earlier in their careers, when they tend to have the greatest financial need. This approach would preserve flexibility (no one would have to use these leave benefits if they didn&rsquo;t want to). Most importantly, this reform would provide support to people who really need it, but without growing government or changing economic incentives.</p> <p> <a href="">Read this briefing pape</a>r published by Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum to learn more about this innovative new idea, which has the potential to be both a policy and political winner. &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasThu, 11 Jan 2018 19:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumACA repeal still high on GOP's agenda<p> The American right has not given up on a total repeal of the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Affordable Care Act</a>.</p> <p> A letter signed by <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">11 individuals affiliated with influential conservative groups</span></strong></span></span> urges President Trump and GOP leaders in Congress to stay true to one of the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Republican Party&rsquo;s central campaign promises</a>&nbsp;in the new year by scrapping Obamacare.</p> <p> Read the full story <a href="">here.</a></p> L. LukasTue, 9 Jan 2018 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Post Office Does Have Problems -- But Not Because of Amazon<p> The holiday season is big on traditions:&nbsp; lighted candles, carefully wrapped packages, decorated evergreen trees, and songs as familiar as the alphabet.&nbsp; But plenty changes each year too.&nbsp; Over the last decade, how people purchase their holiday gifts has radically transformed, as more and more people go&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">online</a>&nbsp;rather than to retail stores for shopping.&nbsp; In fact, visits from the postman, arms loaded filled with cardboard boxes, have become as much a sign of the season as wreaths and Christmas carols.</p> <p> Of course, not everyone is happy with this change, and on December 29<sup>th</sup>, President Trump called out what he characterized as an abuse of the government-run postal system.&nbsp; He tweeted:</p> <p> <span class="m_4792764087098737137gmail-s1" style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 14px; font-kerning: none; color: rgb(201, 59, 62);"><a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1516116030282000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHYYeywS2kvuUXgsoTyDQOy6WLzHA" href=";" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204);" target="_blank">@realDonaldTrump</a></span><span class="m_4792764087098737137gmail-s2" style="color: rgb(18, 72, 126); font-family: Arial; font-size: 14px; font-kerning: none;">: Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!</span></p> <p> The President certainly has reason to be concerned about the Post Office&#39;s financial situation:&nbsp; The government entity has consistently lost billions of dollars each year for the last decade and faces over&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">$120 billion</a>&nbsp;in unfunded liabilities.</p> <p> Yet he is off the mark to blame Amazon and the other big retailers for the institution&#39;s fiscal woes.&nbsp; In fact, the Postal Service&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Annual Report to Congress</a>&nbsp;shows that package deliver is the one area in which revenues have been increasing, providing a life-line to the government institution that has seen a precipitous decline in its core business of first class mail delivery.</p> <p> The Post Office&#39;s real problem is that it has tremendous fixed costs:&nbsp; USPS spent&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">$6 billion</a>&nbsp;on retirement benefits alone and employs nearly 640,000 workers.&nbsp; The Postal Service&#39;s leadership also has a limited ability to reform its operations to make ends meet.&nbsp; Congress and the Postal Regulatory Commission control key aspects of the services that USPS must provide and how much they can charge.&nbsp; In fact, the last&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Congress&nbsp;</a>rejected a proposal to end Saturday delivery, which was proposed as a way to cut operating costs and help make the Post Office financially solvent.</p> <p> Amazon and other major retailers have been entering into contracts to make use of the Postal Services infrastructure.&nbsp; They receive discounted rates for the volume of business and for helping streamline the process (such as by presorting mail).&nbsp; Raising prices on these retailers, as the President suggests, would encourage them to find other methods of delivering their packages or encourage them to turn to other providers.&nbsp; As Andrew Harrer&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">writing for CNBC</a>&nbsp;put it:</p> <p> Amazon really, really doesn&#39;t need the United States Postal Service to do business. It can and does use a variety of delivery services &mdash; and probably can play those services off each other. In other words: Amazon doesn&#39;t need the USPS. The same isn&#39;t necessarily true for the USPS.</p> <p> The more fundamental question that the President and other lawmakers ought to ask is why does the United States still have a government-controlled postal service and micromanage how we deliver individual pieces of mail at all?&nbsp; European countries have successfully reformed and even privatized their postal operations, efforts which the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">OECD concluded</a>&nbsp;have led to &ldquo;quality of service improvements, increases in profitability, increases in employment and real reductions in prices.&rdquo;&nbsp; Surely the U.S. private sector, which already has a robust shipping and delivery industry, could figure out a way to deliver letters without dedicating an entire government agency to that task.</p> <p> As is so often the case, it&#39;s not the businesses that are abusing the system and short-changing taxpayers, but the government-created system itself that is the real problem.</p> L. LukasFri, 5 Jan 2018 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIvanka says admin will launch paid family leave campaign<p> Ivanka says her father&lsquo;s administration will launch a major paid family leave campaign early next year once it&lsquo;s finished with tax reform</p> <p> Revealed Wednesday that paid family is next on the Trump administration&#39;s agenda.</p> <p> The senior White House adviser said the administration will initiate a full-court press on Congress to pass a national paid family leave program after it finishes with tax reform while she spoke at a conference geared toward women in India.</p> <p> &lsquo;Coming into the new year, you will hopefully see it in a national paid family leave program that we&lsquo;re working hard to build coalitions of support for,&lsquo; Trump said of the White House&lsquo;s desire to implement &lsquo;policies that support the modern working family.&lsquo;</p> <p> The president&lsquo;s daughter reminded her audience that a federal leave program was part of her father&lsquo;s first, White House budget.</p> <p> &lsquo;I&lsquo;m very encouraged by that step, and we&lsquo;ll be working with Congress to try and pass what is a long overdue policy.&lsquo;</p> <p> Trump&lsquo;s announcement, during a panel on workforce development, was applauded by the entrepreneurs attending the summit.</p> <p> Allies of the administration, however, were left scratching their heads.&nbsp;</p> <p> Senior Republican congressional aides were unaware of any such plans. A source on the right with knowledge of the issue was &lsquo;surprised that this was going to be the priority.&lsquo;&nbsp;</p> <p> Establishing a federal paid family leave program is a leading aim of the president&lsquo;s daughter. She has been lobbying Republican lawmakers on a set of reform since her father became the party&lsquo;s standard bearer.</p> <p> In a previous ask, Ivanka Trump challenged Republicans to pass legislation granting six weeks of paid family leave to new and adoptive parents. That version of the program, which she managed to insert into her father&lsquo;s fiscal year 2018 budget, utilized state unemployment programs to distribute the funds.</p> <p> The White House estimated the program would cost $25 billion over the next decade.</p> <p> She has signaled her openness to other payment and leave structures since then, including&nbsp;a nonrefundable, 25 percent tax credit for businesses that voluntarily offer four to 12 weeks of paid leave that was proposed in the Senate by Florida Republican Marco Rubio.</p> <p> Tax legislation that comes for a vote this week in the Senate includes a paid family leave provision &ndash; but it does not have the heft of of Ivanka&lsquo;s proposed leave program.</p> <p> The provision, shepherded by Republican Sen. Deb Fischer, provides for significantly less than the mandatory 12 weeks of paid leave that national Democrats are proposing.</p> <p> Fischer&lsquo;s measure gives companies that offer at least two weeks of paid leave a tax credit comparable to 25 percent of the affected worker&lsquo;s salary.</p> <p> Included in a rewrite of the GOP&lsquo;s tax overhaul bill when the legislation went through committee, sources familiar with the issue said it&lsquo;s unlikely that the proposal will make it into the law.</p> <p> A White House official declined comment earlier this month on Fischer&lsquo;s push, and Ivanka made no mention of it on Wednesday as she spoke about paid family leave at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India.</p> <p> The topic of paid leave came up as the president&lsquo;s daughter discussed the cultural and social blockades for women in the workplace.</p> <p> America&lsquo;s institutions &lsquo;were not set up with the assumption that there would be two parents in the workforce, so we just have to fundamentally change things,&lsquo; she had just been saying.</p> <p> In the corporate world, particularly in the sectors of technology and finance, businesses are introducing flexible work programs.&nbsp;</p> <p> Those enhancements are beneficial for affluent Americans who are already making large amounts of money. &lsquo;Not for women working at the lower-income end of the spectrum,&lsquo; she said.&nbsp;</p> <p> &lsquo;So, I think that&lsquo;s where government policy comes in, and we need to start thinking about ways to support the modern workforce, and the modern reality of dual-income households,&lsquo; Trump added.</p> <p> A successful business owner with three children, Trump said &lsquo;it&lsquo;s incredibly important&lsquo; to her that &lsquo;we have policies that support the modern working family.&lsquo;</p> <p> &lsquo;You see in tax reform the expansion, the vast expansion of the child tax credit, recognizing the massive investment parents make into their families at a time when wages have stagnated for so long and working parents really need relief,&lsquo; she stated.</p> <p> The White House adviser referenced the child and dependent care tax credit, which covers up to 35 percent of expenses at a limit of $3,000 for every qualifying person and remains unchanged in an already-passed House tax bill.</p> <p> &lsquo;Tackling the cost of childcare, and the fact that it&lsquo;s not only inaccessible in large portions of the country, particularly in rural areas, but the cost is enormous to, to many American parents, and they&lsquo;re unable to afford to provide high-quality child care,&lsquo; she continued, &lsquo;So that&lsquo;s another issue we&lsquo;re addressing.&lsquo;</p> <p> Ivanka then said then that &lsquo;you see some of that agenda coming to life through components of tax reform,&lsquo; the current focus of the the administration.</p> <p> &lsquo;And coming into the new year, you will hopefully see it in a national paid family leave program that we&lsquo;re working hard to build coalitions of support for,&lsquo; she asserted.&nbsp;</p> <p> &lsquo;The president included it for the first time ever in his budget this year, paid family leave, maternity, paternity and adoption, and I&lsquo;m very encouraged by that step.&nbsp;We&lsquo;ll be working with Congress to try and pass what is a long overdue policy.&lsquo;&nbsp;</p> <p> A high-ranking leadership aide told DailyMail earlier this fall, when House Republicans were passing their budget, there is &lsquo;no appetite&lsquo; to tackle a paid family leave program.</p> <p> Asked about the issue again after Ivanka Trump&lsquo;s India comments, the aide said nothing has changed.</p> <p> If the 36-year-old White House official wants to see a national paid family leave program enacted, she will most likely need the help of congressional Democrats.&nbsp;</p> <p> More than 100 Democratic members have signed on to a letter smacking down her previous paid family leave proposal.</p> <p> House Democrats told her father in June: &lsquo;We appreciate your interest in paid leave; however we are concerned that the proposal included in your 2018 budget request is inadequate because it only provides six weeks of paid leave for limited circumstances and without a solid funding mechanism.&lsquo;</p> <p> Democrats favor a comprehensive leave policy that allows workers to take time off for reasons other than a newborn child.&nbsp;</p> <p> A program approved by New York this year takes the money out of workers&lsquo; pay checks. It starts slow, at eight weeks in 2018, and scales up.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women&lsquo;s Forum, a conservative conglomeration of women, said a national paid family leave initiative is a &lsquo;tough policy&lsquo; to implement.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Paid leave &lsquo;can backfire on workers and the economy&lsquo; if the government adopts an approach that assumes one-size-fits-all,&lsquo; she said.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&lsquo;I think it&lsquo;s a very interesting idea and worth exploring how you could improve the unemployment system to provide support like this,&lsquo; Lukas said in an assessment of Ivanka Trump&lsquo;s original plan.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The women&lsquo;s organization head said she favors the idea of helping low-income workers who must take time off stay in the jobs they already have. She wants more information on the proposal, though, before IWF would endorse it.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&lsquo;I appreciate what they&lsquo;re trying to do, which I think is to try to find a way that avoids a sweeping new entitlement program, or a huge business mandate, and to target aid at those who really need it,&lsquo; she said, &lsquo;but I feel like we would need to see a lot more about how this would work in practice and what the costs and unintended consequences would be.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&lsquo;But I think its a great conversation to start having,&lsquo; she added.</span></strong></span></span></p> L. LukasFri, 5 Jan 2018 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumConservatives press for ObamaCare repeal ahead of Trump meeting with GOP<p> As&nbsp;<a data-nid="261287" href=""><span data-behavior="rolloverpeople">President Trump</span></a>&nbsp;and GOP leaders&nbsp;prepare to meet this weekend to chart the Republican agenda for 2018, conservatives are urging high-ranking Republicans to make health care a top legislative priority.</p> <p> The meeting comes as Senate Majority Leader&nbsp;<a data-nid="188280" href=""><span data-behavior="rolloverpeople">Mitch McConnell</span></a>&nbsp;(R-Ky.) has indicated his chamber<a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1515250958447000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF9qLziqxPKxEHJk-n2AuqvaBLVUQ" href="" target="_blank">&nbsp;will likely move away</a>&nbsp;from repealing ObamaCare in favor of passing bipartisan legislation. Conservative groups&nbsp;<a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1515250958447000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFRV2GQAvRjIw2YbvSiUEPSPn5lSA" href="" target="_blank">are pushing Republicans</a>&nbsp;to try again to gut President Obama&rsquo;s signature health-care law, but McConnell has acknowledged the effort will be harder now with an even slimmer, 51-49, majority.</p> <p> &ldquo;We applaud your success in repealing one of the most despised parts of Obamacare &mdash; the individual mandate fines &mdash; but millions of Americans are still suffering under the many other provisions of the 2010 health overhaul that remain on the books,&rdquo; 11 leaders of conservative groups and right-leaning health-care experts wrote&nbsp;<a data-saferedirecturl=";q=;source=gmail&amp;ust=1515250958447000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF37D76jCsNQURZfihE1TtXH4lr-A" href="" target="_blank">in an open letter</a>&nbsp;to Trump, McConnell and Speaker&nbsp;<a data-nid="188074" href=""><span data-behavior="rolloverpeople">Paul Ryan</span></a>&nbsp;(R-Wis.).&nbsp;</p> <p> &ldquo;Americans need relief, and we believe they will hold their representatives accountable at the polls this November,&rdquo; the letter, published&nbsp;<span data-term="goog_666643773" tabindex="0">Thursday</span>&nbsp;in The Daily Signal, states. It mentions a bill from Sens.&nbsp;<a data-nid="188247" href=""><span data-behavior="rolloverpeople">Lindsey Graham</span></a>&nbsp;(R-S.C.) and&nbsp;<a data-nid="186504" href=""><span data-behavior="rolloverpeople">Bill Cassidy</span></a>&nbsp;(R-La.) as the legislation that &ldquo;we believe can lead to success.&rdquo;</p> <p> In September, a last-ditch attempt at repealing and replacing ObamaCare gained momentum in the Senate, but it became clear the bill didn&rsquo;t have the support to pass before a&nbsp;<span data-term="goog_666643774" tabindex="0">Sept. 30</span>&nbsp;deadline. The Graham-Cassidy bill repealed major provisions of ObamaCare, and in turn, would send the money to states in the form of a block grant.</p> <p> &ldquo;We believe this new approach can lead to a successful outcome, and we encourage you to create the path by making reform a priority in your decisions about your 2018 agenda,&rdquo; the group wrote, adding that, since the fall, they&rsquo;ve been meeting with congressional leaders, White House officials and health-care policy experts to further fine-tune the policy.</p> <p> Those signing the letter include Mike Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action for America; Lanhee Chen, of the Hoover Institution and Stanford University; <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas, president of Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</span></strong></span></span>; former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who worked on the Graham-Cassidy bill; and more.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 5 Jan 2018 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAmericans Need Health Reform to Be a Priority Issue in 2018<p> <strong><em>An open letter to President Donald J. Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan.</em></strong></p> <p> As you meet this weekend at Camp David to plan your 2018 legislative agenda, we strongly recommend that you keep health care as a top priority.</p> <p> We applaud your success in repealing one of the most despised parts of Obamacare&mdash;the individual mandate fines&mdash;but millions of Americans are still suffering under the many other provisions of the 2010 health overhaul that remain on the books.</p> <p> Americans need relief, and we believe they will hold their representatives accountable at the polls this November.</p> <p> The efforts you put into repealing and replacing Obamacare last year were heroic. But the challenges are great.</p> <p> Millions of people now rely on Obamacare subsidies for their health coverage, and the law has introduced wave after wave of distortions into our health sector, making legislative change difficult, especially under the torturous reconciliation rules.</p> <p> The legislation offered last fall by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., offered a new platform for reform that we believe can lead to success.</p> <p> Instead of trying to adjust the subsidy mechanisms in Obamacare, they took a new approach of providing block grants to the states to give them new resources and greater regulatory flexibility to revive their individual and small group health insurance markets.</p> <p> This new platform of returning power and authority to the states, and ultimately to individuals, charts a new path for health reform.</p> <p> We have been meeting with congressional leaders, White House officials, and others in the policy community since last fall to refine these new policy recommendations. We are eager and willing to work with you in advancing these policies, which we believe would have greater traction with members of Congress and voters.</p> <p> Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has been working with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on short-term subsidies and state flexibility. These efforts are commendable, but they do not alter the basic structure of the law and will not provide the relief that Americans desperately need.</p> <p> Health premiums continue to soar, and millions of people have little or no choice of health insurers. Millions of people who once could afford coverage no longer can, and many find that their health insurance premiums cost more than their mortgage or rent payments.</p> <p> These same people, as federal and state taxpayers, also are paying for Medicaid&mdash;which now covers one in four Americans&mdash;and for sharply higher federal costs to subsidize Obamacare individual policies.</p> <p> In a new&nbsp;<a href="">Associated Press-NORC poll</a>, nearly half of Americans said health care is their primary concern for 2018, topping taxes, immigration, education, and the environment by more than 15 percent.</p> <p> Obamacare has failed miserably in fulfilling the last administration&rsquo;s promise to cut health costs. The typical American worker now must devote roughly&nbsp;<a href="">twice as many</a>&nbsp;work hours to cover health costs as to pay for food.</p> <p> Health costs are rising&nbsp;<a href="">faster than before</a>, and there&rsquo;s no real prospect of a reversal without legislative action.</p> <p> The individual health insurance market is contracting: Preliminary numbers show that the total number of people with individual policies fell from 20 million in March 2016 to 16 million in September of last year. That&rsquo;s a 20-percent drop in a period of 18 months.</p> <p> The year-end estimates are likely to show that fewer people have individual health insurance coverage today than at any time since 2014.</p> <p> Washington has exacerbated the problems in our health sector. We believe individuals need to be empowered with greater flexibility and choice and that states are better equipped than Washington to oversee their health insurance markets. This requires legislative action from Congress for these new and better choices.</p> <p> We applaud the administration&rsquo;s efforts in creating regulatory relief from Obamacare where possible, including releasing today a new regulation for broader adoption of association health plans. We look forward to aggressive agency action in implementing regulatory relief, but more action is needed.</p> <p> We are ready to work with you in building on your successes, and are developing consensus solutions that would enable greater competition so Americans can choose the coverage that is right for them, with more options of more affordable insurance policies and health care, while protecting health coverage for those who have it now.</p> <p> We believe this new approach can lead to a successful outcome, and we encourage you to create the path by making reform a priority in your decisions about your 2018 agenda.</p> <p> Signed,</p> <p> Rick Santorum<br /> Doug Badger,&nbsp;<em>Galen Institute</em><br /> Naomi Lopez Bauman,&nbsp;<em>Goldwater Institute</em><br /> Lanhee Chen,&nbsp;<em>Hoover Institution and Stanford University</em><br /> Marie Fishpaw,&nbsp;<em>The Heritage Foundation</em><br /> Rea S. Hederman, Jr.,&nbsp;<em>The Buckeye Institute</em><br /> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Heather R. Higgins,&nbsp;</span><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&rsquo;s Voice</span></em></strong></span></span><br /> Yuval Levin,&nbsp;<em>Ethics and Public Policy Center</em><br /> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas,&nbsp;</span><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</span></em></strong></span></span><br /> Mike Needham,&nbsp;<em>Heritage Action for America</em><br /> Ramesh Ponnuru,&nbsp;<em>American Enterprise Institute and National Review</em><br /> Grace-Marie Turner,&nbsp;<em>Galen Institute</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasThu, 4 Jan 2018 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWant More Women in Leadership? Start By Confirming Some<p> America needs more women in positions of power. That&rsquo;s one of the most common and uncontroversial takeaways from the unremitting sexual harassment scandals that are rocking the country, from Capitol Hill to Hollywood.</p> <p> So why are Senate Democrats blocking qualified women from assuming leadership positions in Washington, where change is sorely needed?</p> <p> Currently, dozens of highly qualified women who have been appointed to important government jobs are waiting for Senate confirmation.</p> <p> Women like&nbsp;<a data-beacon="{&quot;p&quot;:{&quot;lnid&quot;:&quot;Janet Dhillon&quot;,&quot;mpid&quot;:1,&quot;plid&quot;:&quot;;}}" data-beacon-parsed="true" data-rapid-parsed="slk" data-rapid_p="2" data-v9y="1" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;cpos:4" href="" target="_blank">Janet Dhillon</a>, who President Trump nominated on June 29 to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ms. Dhillon has a decades-long career as a top lawyer at major law firms and corporations. Her Senate confirmation hearing took place on September 19th, but nearly three months later, the Senate still yet to approve her nomination.</p> <p> <a data-beacon="{&quot;p&quot;:{&quot;lnid&quot;:&quot;Diana Furchtgott-Roth&quot;,&quot;mpid&quot;:2,&quot;plid&quot;:&quot;;}}" data-beacon-parsed="true" data-rapid-parsed="slk" data-rapid_p="3" data-v9y="1" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;cpos:5" href="" target="_blank">Diana Furchtgott-Roth</a>&nbsp;was nominated on October 2 to be Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology at the Department of Transportation. Ms. Furchtgott-Roth has worked as a leading economist for Presidents Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. She is also waiting for approval.</p> <p> <a data-beacon="{&quot;p&quot;:{&quot;lnid&quot;:&quot;Isabel Marie Keenan Patelunas&quot;,&quot;mpid&quot;:3,&quot;plid&quot;:&quot;;}}" data-beacon-parsed="true" data-rapid-parsed="slk" data-rapid_p="4" data-v9y="1" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;cpos:6" href="" target="_blank">Isabel Marie Keenan Patelunas</a>&nbsp;has worked for the CIA since 1989, serving as the Deputy Director of the CIA&rsquo;s Office of Middle East and North Africa Analysis and now as a member of the Senior Intelligence Service. She was nominated to become the Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of the Treasury in June.</p> <p> Why are these impressive women&rsquo;s appointments still pending after so many months?</p> <p> Here&rsquo;s why. Senate Democrats have been consistently rejecting the Majority&rsquo;s request for unanimous consent for uncontroversial appointments&mdash;the norm under previous administrations&mdash;and forcing the Senate to use 30 hours of floor time to debate each nominee. As a result, currently 238 of the President&rsquo;s 492 nominations are still pending, an unprecedented backlog of nominations and leaving critical agencies under-staffed.</p> <p> The Senate Policy Committee released a report this summer detailing the Senate Minority&rsquo;s striking break with precedent in blocking routine confirmations. In the first six months of the Trump administration, just 55 of the President&rsquo;s 257 nominations were confirmed. In the first six months of the Obama Administration, the Senate confirmed 206 nominees. Overwhelmingly, the Republican Senate Minority allowed Obama&rsquo;s nominees to be confirmed without full, roll call votes or lengthy debate. Only five of President Trump&rsquo;s nominees during those first six months were confirmed using the expedited process.</p> <p> This trend continues. This 30-hour procedure isn&rsquo;t being used to vet nominees who the Minority finds objectionable. Once brought to a vote, nominees are often confirmed with overwhelming support. Take Judge David Nye. Nye had first been appointed by President Obama. On May 8, President Trump nominated him to serve in Idaho&rsquo;s U.S. District Court, but Democrats still demanded that his appointment receive 30 hours of floor debate. He was finally confirmed on July 12, unanimously. Nye got off relatively easy: Just this week, the Senate finally confirmed&nbsp;<a data-beacon="{&quot;p&quot;:{&quot;lnid&quot;:&quot;Susan Parker Bodine&quot;,&quot;mpid&quot;:4,&quot;plid&quot;:&quot;;}}" data-beacon-parsed="true" data-rapid-parsed="slk" data-rapid_p="5" data-v9y="0" data-ylk="subsec:paragraph;cpos:10" href="" target="_blank">Susan Parker Bodine</a>&nbsp;to be assistant administrator of the EPA by Voice Vote. Her nomination has been pending since May.</p> <p> Presumably Senate Democrats believe that stalling these nominations harms the Trump Administration, and makes it harder for the President to enact his agenda. But, in fact, it harms all Americans, by leaving our agencies and judiciary under-staffed and unable to make needed reforms. It also harms the nominees themselves, including the dozens of highly-qualified women whose careers and lives are in limbo while waiting for these petty political games to play out.</p> <p> At the end of this session, all current nominations expire and the President will have to re-nominate candidates, creating even more delays. How many potentially valuable public servants will decide it isn&rsquo;t worth the hassle and withdraw in order to move on with their lives and careers? This is the swamp at its worst. Americans who wonder why the pace of change in Washington is so slow should know that Senate Democrats deserve a big share of the blame.</p> L. LukasMon, 18 Dec 2017 14:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolicy Focus: Modernizing Flexible Spending Accounts<p> As the number of single heads of household and two working parent families grows, more Americans are struggling to balance work and family responsibilities. Many want government to do more to help people. Often, lawmakers debate proposals to mandate paid leave benefits or create new government programs to fund time off. These debates are worth having, but there&rsquo;s another route to ease burdens on working families: encouraging and rewarding saving.</p> <p> Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are one vehicle that policymakers should consider modernizing to better support workers. Currently, these tax advantaged savings accounts are available in a majority of large companies. However, only a small share of workers use them because of the restrictions on allowable uses of the funds and the requirement that funds must be used each year, or risk being forfeited.</p> <p> Expanding FSAs so that workers can save more and use funds to cover more critical expenses&mdash;including to make up for income lost during unpaid leave from work&mdash;and eliminating the &ldquo;use-it-or-lose-it&rdquo; provision would increase participation and make these accounts a vital tool for workers. By making it easier for workers to prepare for critical expenses, FSAs would reduce reliance on safety net programs and increase financial security for Americans. Mandating that employers provide paid leave benefits and creating a paid leave entitlement program have significant drawbacks, such as raising employment costs and discouraging hiring. In contrast, expanded FSAs make time off more affordable, while preserving flexibility and encouraging work and saving, without these unfortunate unintended consequences.</p> <p> Policymakers should prioritize modernizing Flexible Spending Accounts.</p> <p> <a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 350px; height: 58px;" /></a></p> <p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"> <a href="" title="View Modernizing Flexible Spending Accounts on Scribd">Modernizing Flexible Spending Accounts</a> by <a href="" title="View Independent Women's Forum's profile on Scribd">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</a></p> <p> <iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.7729220222793488" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_49197" scrolling="no" src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-BjuPIGkOQNFDHeGQgCsX&amp;show_recommendations=true" title="Modernizing Flexible Spending Accounts " width="100%"></iframe></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasSun, 17 Dec 2017 21:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolitics Roundup: Montgomery Council President Speaks Out Against Republican Sick Leave Proposal on Capitol Hill<p> <strong>Riemer promotes county&rsquo;s paid sick and family leave law on Capitol Hill</strong></p> <p> Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer testified Wednesday during a U.S. House of Representatives&rsquo; subcommittee meeting against a new Republican-sponsored bill that could preempt the county&rsquo;s new sick and paid leave law.</p> <p> The&nbsp;<a href="">National Women&rsquo;s Law Center has described HR4219</a>, the bill introduced in November and dubbed &ldquo;Workflex in the 21st Century,&rdquo; as a way for employers to circumvent local and state paid sick and family leave laws.</p> <p> Republican representatives during the subcommittee meeting Wednesday described the bill as a more simple way for businesses to offer flexible leave days without having to comply with a &ldquo;patchwork&rdquo; of state and local paid leave laws.</p> <p> The Women&rsquo;s Law Center described the bill as problematic because it would let employers decide &ldquo;when and whether workers would be allowed to use paid time off to care for themselves or family members.&rdquo;</p> <p> <a href="">Montgomery County&rsquo;s law requires employers</a>&nbsp;with five or more employees to provide workers with one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours an employee works, up to a maximum of 56 hours of earned paid sick leave annually.</p> <p> Riemer said Wednesday that if Congress made a strong federal sick and family leave policy, fewer local and state governments would feel compelled to act. However, he told the representatives during the committee meeting that the if the bill put forth by the Republicans were to pass, it would reduce the rights given to Montgomery County employees in the county law by enabling local employers to circumvent the county law by complying with the less stringent federal requirements.</p> <p> &ldquo;A worker could easily end up with very little paid sick days, without even the right to claim them when they need it,&rdquo; Riemer told the committee about the possible effects of passing the federal bill.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Another witness, Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, testified in favor of the bill by saying it would give employers, particularly small businesses, greater flexibility in making paid leave decisions. She said state and local paid leave requirements might have the unintended effect of pricing low-income individuals out of jobs because some businesses might not be able to comply with them.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Democratic representatives who participated in the panel advocated instead for a different House bill&mdash;the&nbsp;<a href="">Healthy Families Act, HR1516</a>&mdash;that would establish a federal paid leave baseline. The bill would require employers with 15 or more employers to provide 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year&mdash;a policy that closely aligns with the county law, although the employee threshold is higher in the county version.</p> <p> Riemer, a Democrat, said he doesn&rsquo;t think the Republican legislation will gain support because he believes Americans are seeking more rights to paid sick and family leave, but he hoped the Democrats&rsquo; bill moves forward.</p> <p> &ldquo;The Democrats&rsquo; bill that they are championing is quite similar to ours,&rdquo; Riemer said. &ldquo;I think the basic point is the county&rsquo;s law is a workable national standard.&rdquo;</p> <p> &mdash;<em>Andrew Metcalf</em></p> <p> <strong>Raskin throws himself a birthday party, but without once-featured guest</strong></p> <p> U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin turns 55 next week. On Sunday, he&rsquo;s throwing what a recent invitation described as &ldquo;my true-blue, rock-and-roll birthday bash&rdquo; (and campaign fundraiser) for more than 500 friends and supporters at the Silver Spring Civic Center.</p> <p> The entertainment includes local musicians, and the food will feature &ldquo;Effective Progressive&rdquo; mustard from Raskin&rsquo;s cousins in Wisconsin and what Raskin labeled &ldquo;8<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;District and District 20 Salsa (Spiced Globally, Stirred Locally and Served Liberally).&rdquo; Featured guests include Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax, among the victors in last month&rsquo;s Democratic sweep of statewide offices there.</p> <p> But while one of Raskin&rsquo;s House freshman colleagues, Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, will be there, another freshman, Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen, will not&mdash;even though Kihuen was touted as a featured guest in a mid-November invitation from Raskin for Sunday&rsquo;s event.</p> <p> The Mexican-born Kihuen&mdash;like Raskin, a member of the House Progressive Caucus&mdash;was considered a rising star on Capitol Hill until late last month, when he joined a growing number of legislators accused of sexual harassment. Kihuen made unwanted advances to a female staffer then in his employ, according to a report in BuzzFeed<em>.</em></p> <p> For Raskin, it was the second time in recent weeks that he faced the awkward situation in which a colleague to whom he has close ties stood accused of sexual harassment.</p> <p> Last week, Raskin joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in calling for the resignation of long-time Rep. John Conyers&mdash;for whom Raskin once interned as a college undergraduate and with whom he recently served on the Judiciary Committee. Conyers resigned this week.</p> <p> However, Raskin so far has refrained from joining Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders in calling on Kihuen to leave Congress.</p> <p> &ldquo;I have been emphatic that we need to have a zero-tolerance policy with respect to harassment, but I have not yet issued a statement on that particular case,&rdquo; said Raskin, who sits on the House Administration Committee, which is working to craft future policies to curtail sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.</p> <p> In a phone interview Thursday, Raskin sidestepped questions about whether he had disinvited Kihuen from Sunday&rsquo;s gathering, saying he had shifted the focus of the party to the recent off-year elections in the region. &ldquo;I just thought that, all things considered, it would be better to celebrate the victory in Virginia and Frederick and Annapolis,&rdquo; said Raskin, alluding to Democrats winning the mayor&rsquo;s post in the latter two cities.</p> <p> About Kihuen&rsquo;s absence at Sunday&rsquo;s event, Raskin added: &ldquo;As it turns out, he&rsquo;s not going to be in town anyway. And so I think all&rsquo;s well that ends well for the party.&rdquo;</p> <p> &mdash;<em>Louis Peck</em></p> <p> <strong>Riemer files for more public campaign funds; Albornoz says he&rsquo;s met threshold to qualify</strong></p> <p> On Tuesday, when at-large County Council member Hans Riemer of Takoma Park was sworn in Tuesday as the council&rsquo;s new president, his campaign filed paperwork to tap into additional aid from the county&rsquo;s public campaign finance system as he seeks a third term next year.</p> <p> Riemer previously qualified for more than $86,000 in public funding in August. His latest filing reported another $12,000 in private fundraising, which will trigger additional public funding of a little less than $40,000.</p> <p> Meanwhile, another candidate for an at-large seat, Gabriel Albornoz of Kensington, said in a press release this week that he has met the legal threshold to qualify for public funding by raising at least $20,000 from a minimum of 250 contributors.</p> <p> While Albornoz&rsquo;s campaign has yet to file the required paperwork with the state Board of Elections, his campaign manager, Ashley Bynum, said Thursday that Albornoz had raised a little more than $25,000 in qualifying private donations and expects to receive about $80,400 in public funding.</p> <p> Albornoz has headed the county&rsquo;s Department of Recreation for the past 11 years, and chaired the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee from 2012 to 2014. His parents are immigrants from South America, and he has been endorsed by District 4 County Council Member Nancy Navarro, now the only Latino or Latina member of the council.</p> <p> Albornoz has enjoyed strong support from the inner circle of retiring County Executive Ike Leggett: Leggett has endorsed him, and the Albornoz campaign is chaired by Charles Short, a longtime special assistant to Leggett.</p> <p> Riemer&rsquo;s newly filed fundraising report also shows him benefitting from support from leading members of the Leggett administration, including a $150 donation from Leggett himself&mdash;the maximum amount an individual can give to a candidate who is tapping into public financing.</p> <p> Lily Qi, an assistant chief administrative officer under Leggett, also gave Riemer $150, while Department of Transportation chief Al Roshdieh donated $50.</p> <p> Riemer has qualified for $136,000 in public funding, the most of the three at-large candidates who have received public campaign subsidies so far. Bill Conway of Potomac has received a little more than $100,000, and Hoan Dang of Silver Spring slightly less than $74,000.</p> <p> Among 18 other at-large council candidates who have created public financing committees to date, only two&mdash;Albornoz and Chris Wilhelm of Chevy Chase&mdash;have claimed publicly to have met the threshold for public funding. Wilhelm said last month he had raised about $24,000 to qualify for $80,000 in public subsidies, but has not yet filed the paperwork to receive the money.</p> <p> <em>Image of Gabriel Albornoz, left, via Montgomery County government.</em></p> <p> &mdash;<em>Louis Peck</em></p> <p> <strong>Rockville investment firm exec mulling independent run for U.S. Senate, spokeswoman confirms</strong></p> <p> Neal Simon, chief executive officer of Bronfman Rothschild&mdash;a Rockville-based investment firm&mdash;is mulling a bid for U.S. Senate as an independent candidate, a spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.</p> <p> &ldquo;He is considering a run,&rdquo; Leah Nurik said, adding that Simon will make a decision &ldquo;by the end of February.&rdquo; Through Nurik, Simon, a 49-year old Potomac resident, declined a request to be interviewed.</p> <p> The seat has been held since 2006 by Democrat Benjamin Cardin, who, at 74, has yet to file or announce his intentions for 2018. But Cardin, who has been actively fundraising and moving around the state, is expected to seek a third term.</p> <p> The filing deadline for next June&rsquo;s Democratic and Republican primaries is Feb. 27. Independent candidates for statewide office have until the first week in August to file the 10,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.</p> <p> If he decides to run, Simon, as practical matter, would need to begin campaigning well before that to boost name recognition and overcome the institutional disadvantages of seeking office as an independent.</p> <p> With the exception of a couple of iconoclastic states on opposite ends of the country&mdash;Alaska and Maine&mdash;independent candidates in the U.S. rarely have had much success in the modern political era. Maryland fits squarely into this mold.</p> <p> In fact, Cardin faced an independent challenger in 2012: international businessman Rob Sobhani, a former Georgetown University professor. Sobhani set a record for an independent candidate in Maryland by garnering nearly 16.5 percent of the vote. But he ran well behind Cardin, with 56 percent, and Republican Dan Bongino, with 26 percent.</p> <p> Sobhani, then a Montgomery County resident, reported spending about $8.1 million, of which nearly 98 percent came out of his own pocket. As CEO of a wealth management firm with 10 offices along the East Coast and in the Midwest, Simon could be in a position to give or lend significant personal funds to his campaign.</p> <p> Simon joined Bronfman Rothschild in 2015, when that firm acquired Highline Wealth Management, which Simon founded in 2002. He is a past board chairman of the Community Foundation of Montgomery County.</p> <p> Simon&rsquo;s interest in a Senate run was first reported by the Maryland Reporter<em>,&nbsp;</em>which said he has been in conversations with the Colorado-based Centrist Project. On its website, the group describes itself as a &ldquo;grassroots organization &hellip; encouraging more independent candidates to run for public office to put our country ahead of any political faction in order to solve problems.&rdquo;</p> <p> &mdash;<em>Louis Peck</em></p> <p> <strong>Madaleno to accept public financing in gubernatorial bid</strong></p> <p> State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Kensington) announced Friday he would use the state&rsquo;s public campaign financing system to help fund his run for governor. Under the system, Madaleno can raise as much as $2.8 million with about half of that being provided to him in matching public funds.</p> <p> The choice to accept public financing will enable Madaleno to raise funds during the 90-day 2018 General Assembly session, as long as individuals provide donations of up to $250, according to&nbsp;<a href=""><em>The Baltimore Sun</em></a>. Had he not accepted public financing, Madaleno, as a state elected official, would not have been able to raise money during the session.</p> <p> In 2014, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan used the public financing system to defeat his Democratic opponent Anthony Brown&mdash;who outspent Hogan by a 3-to-1 margin. Madaleno told the&nbsp;<em>Sun</em>&nbsp;he hopes to do the same to Hogan, who has been fundraising consistently since winning the election and reported having $4.6 million in his campaign account in January.</p> <p> Madaleno is the first of eight Democrats pursuing the party&rsquo;s gubernatorial nomination to choose public financing, according to the&nbsp;<em>Sun</em>.</p> <p> <em>- Andrew Metcalf</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 8 Dec 2017 14:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum