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3 Ways Women Lose Big in Fiscal Cliff Deal

3 Ways Women Lose Big in Fiscal Cliff Deal

Despite the fact that voters were clear they expected Congress to raise taxes on the wealthy to help tackle this country’s fiscal woes, Republicans have so far refused to budge in the budget negotiations, leaving the reality of a collective plunge off the fiscal cliff increasingly likely. What does all this fiscal cliff talk mean for women? A lot. Here’s the top three reasons why women stand to lose the most in the budget stalemate.

1. Mandatory cuts to Medicare and Medicaid

As it stands about 50 million seniors and disabled Americans rely on Medicare to cover their health care costs. Women make up more than two-thirds of those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, a reflection of the fact that women are generally more likely than men to be poor and rely on supplemental coverage for the treatment of a long-term disability. Should Congress fail to pass a budget, around $11 billion will be automatically cut from Medicare, which means significantly reduced payments to doctors, hospitals, long-term care facilities and nursing homes.

Millions of women also rely on Medicaid-funded reproductive health care. Right now, one in ten American women access health care through Title X and Medicaid funding clinics and services. For places like Planned Parenthood, nearly 40 percent of its client base accesses health care through the clinic alone. Mandatory cuts to these programs could be the difference between women accessing life saving pap smears or not.

These cuts impact women not just as beneficiaries but as caregivers as their budgets and resources available to care for loved ones become compromised so as to help the rich save a buck.

2. Food Stamp Cuts

Nutritional assistance through the Women Infant and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) helps feed millions of low-income families in this country. More than 48 million people in this country are considered “food insecure” and if there is no budget deal, about $543 million would be cut from the WIC budget. Separately, child nutrition programs would lose about $4 million.

That means women and children across the country would lose access to vouchers to purchase milk, fruit, vegetables and other staples. The long-term impact of these cuts will be at best difficult. Hunger impacts school performance and overall health, and as more families go hungry our already-stressed public education and health systems will bear the brunt of greater need and fewer resources. It will create and reinforce a spiral of poverty practically impossible to break.

3. Social Security Cuts and Adjustments

Despite the fact that women are more likely to be better educated than men, women are still paid less over their lifetimes. That means that women are more likely to rely on Social Security for longer than their male counterparts and because of the persistent gender pay gap, more likely to live in poverty but for Social Security. That means cuts to Social Security impact women significantly more than they do men.

One popular proposal floating around as part of any Grand Bargain is the idea of changing how Social Security cost-of-living adjustments are determined. Reformers want to tie those increases to the Chained Consumer Price Index which would be a cut in benefits somewhere between 0.25 and 0.3 percent a year. According to the Congressional Budget Office this would save the federal government an estimated $100 billion over a decade.

It doesn’t sound like much, but according to the National Women’s Law Center, a single elderly woman currently receives a about $1100 per month in Social Security benefits. Under a chained CPI, this same woman would lose $56 a month by age 80, $87 a month at 90 and $101 a month at 95, resulting in a final reduction in benefits of more than ten percent.

As Congress gets closer to this so-called “fiscal cliff” we’re going to hear more and more about the need for a shared sacrifice. But unless Wall Street and the one-percenters step up there is no “shared” sacrifice going on here. As usual it is women, and the most vulnerable women at that, who stand to lose the most because of congressional brinkmanship.


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Photo from quinn.anya via flickr.

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6:23AM PST on Dec 25, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

4:37AM PST on Dec 14, 2012

This is because of the failure of leadership in the White House and the failure of the Senate to even vote on a budget in almost 4 years.

9:14AM PST on Dec 10, 2012

It is a shame that benefits have to be cut down for the poor and eldery in a rich country where rich are getting richer from taxpayer's money. America has money for wars, military equipment,NASA space etc. but not for their own people. People worked all their lives and paid taxes to end up living in poverty or homless. American politians are inhumane towards their own people. They should cut down on their high salaries, expenses and tax heavily the rich.

6:27PM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Older people have it hard. Congress should be ashamed of itself but they don't need to worry. They will just get an other raise. No matter what the poor are like.

3:09PM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Terrible news.

1:25PM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Not good....

1:21PM PST on Dec 5, 2012

People in these republician states and states that voted in republicians, YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES!!!!!!!!!. DO YOU PEOPLE THINK??????, Or you just.......SELFISH....AND/OR.....BRAIN WASHED!!!!!!. Think about the REST OF THE.....COUNTRY, ARE YOU THE ONLY ONES who excist!!!!!?????!!!!!. you want to help your country then starting with that creep.......BOEHNER, Start recalls and or impeachment proceedings!!!!!!!. POOR ARE NOT LAZY...YOU TAKE A POOR PERSONS LIFE AND DO THEIR.....JOBS, WALK IN........THEIR SHOES Then come running in calling THEM lazy, when you do their lifes.....YOUR LYING TUNE .....WILL....CHANGE. Now get busy and UNDO your filthy......DAMAGE!!!!!!!. Diana.

1:10PM PST on Dec 5, 2012

get men out of for sensible thinking women in future elections.....

11:18AM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Recall call all Republicans! Susan T. glad your part of the 2% the rest of American's are affected.

11:17AM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Thank you for posting.

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