This column by ACRU General Counsel and Senior Fellow for the Carleson Center for Public Policy (CCPP) Peter Ferrara was published March 10, 2013 on Forbes.com.
The 2012 election featured the bottom feeding charge of a Republican War on Women. The grounds for such a charge were less than zero. But with the Democrat Party outright controlling so much of the national media, every Democrat talking point takes on added weight.
Is opposition to abortion indicative of a “war on women?” That would overlook the fact that at least half of babies aborted are female. Maybe it is a liberal war on women.
The most braindead allegation was that Republicans harbored a secret plan to ban contraceptives. The effectiveness of that charge depends on the public being ignorant of the landmark 1965 Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut, which held that married couples (later expanded to everyone) have a constitutionally protected right to purchase contraceptives.
But did you ever see NBC, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, or the Washington Post, even mention Griswold v. Connecticut all year last year? In the age of the low information voter, poll it and I doubt even 1% would recognize the case.
But numbers don’t lie. And what the economic numbers show is that it is President Obama who has been conducting the war on women.
Compare how women have fared in the economy in Obama’s first term versus how they fared in Ronald Reagan’s first term.
Obama faced a recession when he entered office. But it was already 13 months old at the time, and the longest recession since the Great Depression previously was 16 months. In fact, Obama’s recession ended just 5 months after he entered office. So almost all of his first term was after the recession was over.
Reagan entered office facing double digit inflation, double digit interest rates, and soon double digit unemployment. Real median family incomes had been falling for several years, poverty rates were rising. Reagan and the Treasury’s support of the dollar that eventually broke the back of inflation also produced the worst recession since the Great Depression (to be fair, the “recession was a function of capital being reallocated from inflation hedges to real ideas of the mind) up until that time, with the entire recession coming 6 months into Reagan’s first term, and lasting through almost his entire second year.
But still, real median weekly incomes for females rose 32.1% in Reagan’s first term, compared to 6.6% in Obama’s first term. Employment of women rose by 4,460,000 in Reagan’s first term, while women suffered a net loss of 354,000 jobs during Obama’s first term. Conversely, the number of women not in the work force rose by 4,458,000 in Obama’s first term, compared to 345,000 in Reagan’s first term.
More than 3 times as many jobs were created for African-American women in Reagan’s first term, compared to Obama’s first term, even though the population was much larger in Obama’s first term. Jobs for African American women rose by 15.1% in Reagan’s first term, compared to 2.6% in Obama’s first term.
Teenage female African Americans employed fell by 19.1% in Obama’s first term, compared to a decline of just 1.5% in Reagan’s first term. The unemployment rate for teenage female African-Americans rose by 5.7 percentage points in Obama’s first term, compared to just 1.1 percentage points in Reagan’s first term. Yet, the labor force participation rate for teenage female African Americans rose by 2.5 percentage points in Reagan’s first term, while it fell by 2.6 percentage points in Obama’s first term.
The poverty rate has soared under President Obama, to 16.1%, higher than when the War on Poverty began, and that covers primarily women. Child poverty has soared as well, to over 20%, with 8 million American children growing up in poverty. The Census Bureau reports more Americans in poverty today than at any time in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty, at almost 50 million, and again that is mostly women, and their children.
Real median household income has declined by nearly 8% in Obama’s first term, which is the equivalent of the middle class losing one month’s pay each year. Income for the bottom 20% of income earners has declined by a similar amount. Income has been rising under President Obama only for the top 20%, which is why income inequality has perversely (given Obama’s rhetoric) been rising under President Obama as well.
In President Reagan’s first term, by contrast, the decline in average and low incomes, which had persisted for several years when he entered office, was reversed, and incomes for every income quintile, from the top 20% to the bottom 20%, turned around and rose for several years.
As George Washington University Professor Henry R. Nau summarized in the Wall Street Journal on January 26, 2012,
“the U.S. grew by more than 3% per year [in real terms] from 1980 to 2007, and created more than 50 million new jobs, massively expanding a middle class of working women, African-Americans and legal as well as illegal immigrants. Per capita income increased by 65%, and household income went up substantially in all income categories.” (emphasis added).
Women under Reagan started their own small businesses in record numbers. Small business under Obama has been assaulted in every way, with higher tax rates, and soaring regulatory burdens in particular.
Here again we see that President Obama following the exact opposite of every policy of Reagan in every detail has been getting the exact opposite results. It is time to return women’s liberation to America. If Obama and Congressional Democrats will not reverse course, then American women will have to restore their liberation at the ballot box in November next year.