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 the eve of second women's march, a look at women's economic progress in 2017<div> One of the persistent narratives about President Trump&rsquo;s candidacy and time in office has been that he is anti-woman. Of course, his crude comments about &ldquo;grabbing&rdquo; women earned him plenty of disgust from both sides of the aisle. When he took office about one year ago, nearly half a million women marched in protest.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> This weekend, the second annual Women&rsquo;s March is scheduled to take place.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> But as angry as marchers may be toward President Trump, it would be difficult for them to deny that most American women are better off than they were one year ago. Of course, there are plenty of ways we can all continue to advocate for a better life for women (and men) in America. But for many, a better life is becoming reality.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The current unemployment rate for women is 3.7 percent the lowest since January 2001. Since just January 2017, women have filled 863,000 jobs, and 573,000 women have joined the work force. Wages are increasing for both men and women. And the stock market has soared to record highs, putting more money in the investment accounts of millions of American families who are saving for college or retirement.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 2017, the Small Business Administration made $128 million more in loans to women-owned businesses than in 2016. This is money that businesses can use to invest and grow.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Of course, no sitting president can or should take full credit for complex economic indicators that rely on a wide variety of factors. However, it&rsquo;s clear that the Trump agenda of deregulation and tax reform are fostering the right environment for better economic growth, which translates to booming markets. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act alone will restore $5.5 trillion to the private sector. Sixty percent of that money, or $3.2 trillion, will go directly to families.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> As we push on to combat <a href=";t=Letter%3A-IWV-Supports-the-Congressional-Accountability-and-Hush-Fund-Elimination-Act">sexual harassment</a> and to <a href="">expand paid leave options</a> for parents, we shouldn&rsquo;t ignore this important economic progress and what it means in the lives of American women and families. There are always challenges, sure, but good news too often doesn&#39;t make the headlines.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> HeathFri, 19 Jan 2018 18:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMarket Improvements and Approval Ratings • Coast to Coast HeathTue, 16 Jan 2018 13:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumYou don't have to grow government to expand paid family leave<p> There are many benefits to paid family leave: Parents get to bond with a new baby, and leave is associated with higher rates of breastfeeding, childhood vaccinations, and well-baby care. Paid leave is also good for mom and dad, who are more likely to stay attached to the labor force, and less likely to report depressive symptoms.</p> <p> The benefits of paid leave aren&rsquo;t really at the heart of the policy debate, however. Everyone wants as many families as possible to be able to access and afford this precious bonding time. The debate really centers around how to create a policy that maximizes these benefits without destroying job opportunities, discouraging workplace flexibility, or adding new costs that will mean less take-home pay for all families, those with and without children.</p> <p> Fortunately, there&rsquo;s a new, innovative idea to expand paid family leave in the U.S. It&rsquo;s budget-neutral, gender-neutral, and completely voluntary. It requires no new taxes and depends strongly on the principle of personal responsibility. It works within the framework of other existing programs and laws.</p> <p> The idea is Social Security parental benefits: Eligible workers could opt to receive parental benefits, determined using the Social Security disability formula, for up to 12 weeks. In exchange, workers agree to defer their Social Security retirement benefits by six weeks. (Retirement benefits are typically greater than disability.)</p> <p> To read more about this idea, check out&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">this policy brief.</a></p> <p> Most policy proposals on this issue come from the Left, where Democrats seek to expand the role of government either through mandates on employers or the creation of new entitlement programs that would provide income replacement for workers on unpaid stretches of leave. These proposals come with clear downsides.</p> <p> Mandates on employers make hiring workers more expensive. Sure, many employers voluntarily offer paid leave benefits because they recognize that parents are a valuable part of their labor force, and parents increasingly demand these benefits as a part of compensation.</p> <p> But many employers don&rsquo;t have the resources to provide paid family leave. Mandating that they do so means the cost will be passed along in the form of lower wages, fewer jobs, or reductions to other benefits. This is of particular importance to women, who suffer most, in terms of foregone job opportunities and promotions, when paid family leave is mandated.</p> <p> Many have begun to understand the downsides of these mandates in recent years, and the approach has changed. Now the focus tends to be on creating government programs to fund paid family leave so that employers don&rsquo;t have to bear the cost. Many American workers are already protected by the Family Medical Leave Act, which requires employers to offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave (job protection). So new legislative proposals look to provide income replacement for workers who take this unpaid leave.</p> <p> The additional downside to this approach is that it would require government (read: taxpayer) funding.</p> <p> Practically, this means all workers and employers would pay a new payroll tax, meaning less take-home pay and fewer jobs. And government&rsquo;s track record in projecting costs for such programs isn&rsquo;t good, meaning the associated new taxes would likely increase over time.</p> <p> Philosophically, this approach unfairly robs Peter to pay Paul; it shifts one of life&rsquo;s most critical responsibilities &mdash; caring for our own children &mdash; on to a faceless government and away from individual parents.</p> <p> Compared to new mandates or entitlements, the new idea of Social Security parental benefits is a clear winner. Of course, there&rsquo;s a broader discussion to be had about the future of the Social Security program and its sustainability for future generations of retirees.</p> <p> But in the meantime, this proposal would honor the idea &mdash; the original idea behind Social Security &mdash; that money you&rsquo;ve paid in is really your money. This proposal would give workers a new option for how to have it paid back out, and for some families (especially those living paycheck to paycheck) that benefit is much more important today than at retirement age when they could work for a few more weeks without real hardship.</p> <p> Time is money, but some special times in life are truly priceless.</p> HeathMon, 15 Jan 2018 07:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Health Freedom Hub - Hadley Health Manning HeathFri, 12 Jan 2018 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump's Bipartisan Effort on Immigration • Coast to Coast HeathTue, 9 Jan 2018 08:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumStock Market and Business Thrive in Wake of Tax Reform • Bulls & Bears HeathSat, 6 Jan 2018 18:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAfter tax reform comes health care, Mr. President<p> <strong>A coalition of conservative groups is calling on President Donald Trump to make health care reform the focus of his legislative agenda this year.</strong></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Many Americans watched along with us in 2017 as Congress attempted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and that attempt of course was not successful,&quot; says Hadley Heath Manning, director of policy at the&nbsp;</span></span><a href="" target="_blank"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;(IWF). &quot;We want to be sure that this issue does not go unaddressed, that it&#39;s one that the president puts as his top priority in the coming year.&quot;</span></span></span></strong></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Manning personally gathered a who&#39;s who list of signatures for a&nbsp;</span></span><a href="" target="_blank"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">letter to President Trump</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;asking him to build on the momentum of his successful tax reform effort and return to another central campaign promise: delivering health reform so that Americans have the options they need and want.</span></span></span></strong></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;We encourage you to move quickly to fulfill your and Congress&rsquo;s promises to the American people,&quot; the letter states in part. &quot;Health reform must be the focus of the 2019 budget reconciliation instructions.&quot;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I talked with a lot of people at a lot of different organizations and we got a lot of good feedback from many organizations that represent millions of Americans and supporters,&quot; she says. &quot;They were enthusiastic that we were doing this letter and they wanted to be a part of it.&quot;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> Signers of the coalition letter include Michael Needham of Heritage Action for America; Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council; Marjorie Dannenfelser of Susan B. Anthony List; and Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government, among many more.</p> <p> Speaking of tax reform, the bill President Trump signed just before Christmas does include a repeal of the individual mandate in Obamacare. This means the government no longer requires people have some form of government-approved healthcare coverage or pay a penalty.&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Manning says elimination of the individual mandate penalty is a good starting point for health reform but it is not the finish line.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;It doesn&#39;t address the root cause of the main problems that most Americans are dealing with,&quot; Manning says, reflecting the letter&#39;s statement that people are facing insurance policies and deductibles so high &quot;they might as well be uninsured.&quot;&nbsp;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Of course, there will be several million people who no longer have to pay a tax penalty for going without government approved health insurance,&quot; she tells OneNewsNow. &quot;But for many people, the biggest problems they face because of the Affordable Care Act are the lack of affordable health coverage operations, so eliminating the tax penalty for the individual mandate doesn&#39;t really get to solving that problem.&quot;</span></span></strong></span></p> HeathFri, 5 Jan 2018 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMeet Eileen: Tax Reform Law is a Good Deal for Women<p> <em>Meet Ashley - <a href="">Click HERE</a></em><br /> <em>Meet Cathy - <a href="">Click HERE</a></em><br /> <em>Meet Julia - <a href="">Click HERE</a></em></p> <p> <em>Meet This week IWF will be running a series featuring profiles of different American women and how they will be affected by the latest tax reform legislation. Special thanks to analysts at&nbsp;<a href="">The Tax Foundation</a>, who provided the calculations for each profile.&nbsp;</em></p> <p> Today, meet Elieen. Eileen is a recent college graduate with student loans. She&rsquo;s single, childless, and working in her first job out of college, making $41,000.</p> <p> Without the new tax reform law, Eileen would take a personal exemption of $4,150, a standard deduction of $6,500, and an above-the-line deduction of $2,000 for interest she paid this year on her student loans. This means she only has $28,350 in taxable income, and would face a tax bill of $3776.25.</p> <p> Under the new tax law, Eileen no longer has a personal exemption, but her standard deduction nearly doubles to $12,000, and she keeps her student loan interest deduction of $2,000. This means her taxable income is now $27,000, and her tax bill is $3,049.50. She will see a tax cut of $726.75, or 19 percent.</p> <p> This money will make a big difference for someone like Eileen. &nbsp;She may use it toward her student loan balance, creating a retirement account, or buying airplane tickets to visit family. &nbsp;The choice is up to her, but the bottom line is, there will be more money in her bank account. That&rsquo;s a good deal for Eileen, and a good deal for women like her.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathFri, 29 Dec 2017 00:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMeet Ashley: Tax Reform Law is a Good Deal for Women<p> <em>Meet Eileen -&nbsp;<a href="">Click HERE</a></em><br /> <i>Meet Cathy -&nbsp;</i><a href="" style="font-style: italic;">Click HERE</a><br /> <em>Meet Julia -&nbsp;<a href="">Click HERE</a></em></p> <p> <em>This week IWF will be running a series featuring profiles of different American women and how they will be affected by the latest tax reform legislation. Special thanks to analysts at&nbsp;<a href="">The Tax Foundation</a>, who provided the calculations for each profile.&nbsp;</em></p> <p> Today, meet Ashley. Ashley is a single mom and owns her own business. This year her successful business will make $60,000.&nbsp; Ashley is very thankful for her mom, who cares for her one son, Jackson, when she is working many long hours, even on nights and weekends, as a small business owner.</p> <p> Without the tax reform law, Ashley takes $8,330 in personal exemptions and a standard Head-of-Household deduction of $9,550. This leaves her with a taxable income of $42,150. At her income level, she would pay $5,642.50 in federal income taxes, except that she qualifies for a $1000 child tax credit, which brings her final bill to $4,642.50.</p> <p> Under the new tax law, Ashley will benefit in a few different ways. &nbsp;First, although personal exemptions are eliminated, Ashley&rsquo;s standard deduction will increase to $18,000, nearly twice as much as before.</p> <p> Secondly &ndash; and of critical importance to small business owners like her &ndash; Ashley can now also deduct up to 20 percent of her income because her business is a pass-through entity, meaning her business income &ldquo;passes through&rdquo; to her as an individual. This means she deducts another $8,400 (or 20 percent of the $42,000 left after her standard deduction). This means Ashley has a total taxable income of $33,600. At her rate, this income would result in $3,760 in taxes <em>before the child tax credit.</em></p> <p> Thirdly, Ashley also benefits from the doubling of the child tax credit from $1000 to $2000. This leaves her with a final tax liability of $1760. This means Ashley gets a tax cut of $2,882.50. For a hard-working single mom, this money will make a big difference. That&rsquo;s money she can reinvest in her business, spend on her family, or save for the future. That&rsquo;s a good deal for Ashley and a good deal for women like her.</p> HeathThu, 28 Dec 2017 00:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMeet Cathy: Tax Reform Law is a Good Deal for Women<p> <em>Meet Eileen -&nbsp;<a href="">Click HERE</a><br /> Meet Ashley -&nbsp;<a href="">Click HERE</a></em><br /> <em>Meet Julia -&nbsp;<a href="">Click HERE</a></em></p> <p> <em>This week IWF will be running a series featuring profiles of different American women and how they will be affected by the latest tax reform legislation. Special thanks to analysts at&nbsp;<a href="">The Tax Foundation</a>, who provided the calculations for each profile.&nbsp;</em></p> <p> Today, meet Cathy. Cathy and her husband Mark have three children and a household income of $50,000. Mark is a teacher; Cathy is a stay-at-home mom.&nbsp;</p> <p> Without the tax reform law, their family could take personal exemptions of $20,750 and a standard deduction of $13,000, leaving them with a taxable income of&nbsp; only $16,250. They would pay $1,625 in federal income taxes, except that they qualify for child tax credits of $3000 ($1000 per child) and an earned-income tax credit (EITC) of $1052.59. Cathy and her family have a negative income tax bill of&nbsp; $2,427.59.</p> <p> Under the new tax law, Cathy and her family will be much better off. The law removes personal exemptions, but nearly doubles the standard deduction to $24,000. This leaves Cathy&rsquo;s family with $26,000 in taxable income (more than under prior law), but because the child tax credit increases, they fare better than before.</p> <p> The child tax credit will now be $2000 per child, $1400 of which is refundable. &nbsp;Cathy keeps the same EITC as before, and her family&rsquo;s total bill is now negative $4313.59. This is the difference of $1,886.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s money that Cathy and Mark can use for diapers, food, or saving for college tuition. That&rsquo;s a good deal for Cathy, and a good deal for women like her.</p> <p> Importantly, the amount of Cathy&rsquo;s tax cut will not be atypical under the new tax law. Even according to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, the average tax cut in 2018 <a href="">will be $2,140</a>. That will make a serious difference to millions of families and to the economy as a whole.&nbsp;</p> HeathWed, 27 Dec 2017 10:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMeet Julia: Tax Reform Law is a Good Deal for Women<p> <em>Meet Eileen -&nbsp;<a href="">Click HERE</a><br /> Meet Ashley -&nbsp;<a href="">Click HERE</a></em><br /> <em>Meet Cathy -&nbsp;<a href="">Click HERE</a></em></p> <p> <em>This week IWF will be running a series featuring profiles of different American women and how they will be affected by the latest tax reform legislation. Special thanks to analysts at <a href="">The Tax Foundation</a>, who provided the calculations for each profile.&nbsp;</em></p> <p> Today, meet Julia. Julia is single and works as a waitress, making $19,000 annually.&nbsp; She has no children, and she rents her current home.&nbsp; Without the tax reform law, Julia would expect to pay $835 in federal income taxes because she can take a standard deduction of $6,500 and a personal exemption of $4,150. This leaves her with $8,350 in taxable income, which would be taxed at 10 percent.</p> <p> Under the new tax law, Julia will save money. The personal exemption is eliminated, but the standard deduction nearly doubles to $12,000. This means Julia only has $7000 in taxable income and a tax bill of $700.</p> <p> Julia&rsquo;s $135 in savings may not seem like a lot, but considering her income level and relatively small federal income tax burden, it makes a difference. It&rsquo;s a 16 percent tax cut. Given so much rhetoric about how the new tax law will enrich the wealthy at the expense of the poor, it&rsquo;s at least worth pointing out that the changes to the individual tax code <em>will not harm Julia</em>. In fact, she gets to keep more of her hard-earned money. That&rsquo;s a good deal for Julia, and a good deal for women like her. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> HeathTue, 26 Dec 2017 11:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Left Ignores $20.6 Trillion in Debt • Bulls & Bears HeathFri, 22 Dec 2017 20:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHigh School Parents Outraged at Ivanka Trump • Bulls & Bears HeathFri, 22 Dec 2017 20:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMedia Pushes Mueller Story • Bulls & Bears HeathFri, 22 Dec 2017 20:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumObamacare repeal coming soon? Individual mandate's end certainly makes it easier<p> President Trump and congressional Republicans are riding high into the New Year with a legislative victory under their belt: tax reform. The passage of this tax package was both necessary and possible only because the GOP failed at health reform first.</p> <p> The package did include a body blow to the Affordable Care Act: It eliminated the tax penalty associated with the law&rsquo;s individual mandate, gutting the requirement to buy government-approved health insurance. This is an important move: It effectively ends an unpopular penalty that disproportionately burdened low-income Americans.</p> <p> But Republicans, and Americans of all stripes, should not accept this elimination of the mandate penalty as a &ldquo;repeal of Obamacare&rdquo; or anything close to it. In fact, this latest move should be a starting point, not an ending point, for the next legislative reforms addressing healthcare.</p> <p> Eliminating the individual mandate will not solve the core problems that most people care about under Obamacare (high costs, limited choice, restrictive networks), but it will make it easier for Congress to address these core issues.</p> <p> Democrats constantly touted one major talking point against the repeal and replace bills advanced this summer: that 22 million Americans would &ldquo;lose coverage&rdquo; without Obamacare as is. They were occasionally joined by an off-message President Trump who tweeted that the repeal and replace effort was &ldquo;mean,&rdquo; and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who used the coverage numbers as justification for her &ldquo;no&rdquo; vote.</p> <p> Despite the fact the Republican bills were far from a true, full repeal (they did not repeal the law&rsquo;s insurance regulations) and they all included some modified form of the Obamacare subsidies for private insurance, the Congressional Budget Office rated them poorly on the number of insured individuals due mostly to their lack of an individual mandate. CBO projections, fair or not, weigh heavily on policy debates.</p> <p> A close look at the CBO&rsquo;s analysis showed that, at the time, their model&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">attributed 73 percent</a>&nbsp;of the projected difference in coverage between current law and the GOP plans to the individual mandate. This significantly changes the meaning of the numbers: 16 million of 22 million are in the &ldquo;choose&rdquo; category, not &ldquo;lose.&rdquo;</p> <p> This is the side of the story that Democrats don&rsquo;t want Americans to hear: What does it say about the ACA that millions of people, even people eligible for subsidies, would rather go uninsured than buy an Obamacare plan? The value is so low, and the cost so great, they have to be forced to buy it.</p> <p> But removing the element of force doesn&rsquo;t solve the whole problem. Americans still can&rsquo;t find the insurance they want or need at a price they can afford. That&rsquo;s the problem the GOP should focus on solving now. And they should feel more free to do so, now that one of the Democrats&rsquo; most misleading and damaging talking points is muted.</p> <p> The failed GOP foray into health reform was hard to watch in 2017. In Republicans&rsquo; defense, they were working with very small margins, using a process that limited the scope of what was possible. But now that tax reform has passed, congressional Republicans and Trump have proven they can work together in good faith, compromise, and pass good legislation, even if it&rsquo;s not perfect.</p> <p> Health reform won&rsquo;t be any easier the second time around: in fact, in some ways it will be harder. The margin has only gotten smaller due to the loss of a Senate seat. But in other ways, the Republicans will benefit from lessons learned through both the experience of failure, and more recently, success. They have the momentum to build upon now, and voters are counting on them to get healthcare right.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathFri, 22 Dec 2017 11:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum