What you need to know about Ohio Politics and Policy
“… the first bill I signed was something called the Lily Ledbetter bill. And it’s named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less, and the Supreme Court said that she couldn’t bring suit because she should have found about it earlier, whereas she had no way of finding out about it. So we fixed that. And that’s an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family. This is not just a women’s issue, this is a family issue, this is a middle-class issue, and that’s why we’ve got to fight for it.”Governor Romney did not address the question of whether he would have supported the Lily Ledbetter Act, but his campaign has — after some misdirection yesterday — finally stated that he would not have signed it. During his answer, while avoiding the issue of equal pay, Romney instead spoke of the need to extend special benefits to women in the workplace:
“one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.”It’s hard to see what Romney’s position is here, but he appears to suggest that extra benefits can be provided in lieu of equal pay. Obama, by contrast, recognizes that in today’s economy, many women are the breadwinners. What about dads that need to be home to make dinner? No comment from Romney. Here’s how the New York Times editorial page scored this one:
It has dawned on Mitt Romney that he has a problem with female voters. He just has no idea what to do about it, since it is the result of his positions on abortion, contraception, health services and many other issues. On Tuesday night, he bumbled his way through a cringe-inducing attempt to graft what he thinks should be 2012 talking points onto his 1952 sensibility. … True equality is not satisfied by allowing the little lady to go home early and tend to her children.Contraceptive coverage – who decides? President Obama spoke of contraception as an economic issue, and spoke about a key provision of Obamacare:
In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured. Because this is not just a — a health issue, it’s an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family’s pocket. Governor Romney not only opposed it, he suggested that in fact employers should be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage.Romney’s response?
I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. And — and the — and the president’s statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong.Obama says Romney would let an employer decide, but Romney says he wouldn’t. Who’s right? The Affordable Care Act, signed by Obama, defines contraceptive care as a basic benefit that employer-based health plans must offer, meaning that employers cannot make decisions about what healthcare their female employees receive. Romney, on the other hand, supported the Blunt Amendment, which if enacted, would allow any employer to opt out of providing contraceptive care. We grade Romney’s statement untrue. It’s also not consistent with his promise to repeal Obamacare. A promise, by the way, that would also permit the practice of women paying more than men for health insurance to continue. Women’s issues will be important in this election, and narrowing the longstanding gender gap that sees women voters preferring Democratic candidates while men choose Republicans will be critical to victory for Romney. Ohio, once again is a key battleground state, and the latest state poll from Survey USA showing Obama leading in Ohio by 3 points, that gender gap here remains large:
Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll one week ago, women are stable, but Obama picks up a couple of points among men. The gender gap today is 13 points.The debate offered a much-needed opportunity for women voters to hear the candidates, in their own words, speak to these issues. Now it’s the voters’ turn to speak at the polls.
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