The federal budget deal struck by Congressional leaders and the White House averts a debt ceiling disaster by risking the economic security of women and their families.
The budget deal initially cuts spending about one trillion over the next ten years. At the same time, it fails to close tax loopholes or to raise any additional revenue which results in harmful cuts for the most vulnerable and no concessions whatsoever from the wealthiest citizens. The U.S. unemployment rate stands at 9.2% and data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce at the end of July shows that the country’s gross domestic product grew by less than one percent in the first half of 2011.
The Great Recession and the economy’s sluggish recovery have been difficult for all Americans. But a recent study by the Pew Center found that while men as a group gained jobs since the recovery began in June 2009, more women have joined the ranks of the unemployed.
As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman writes in The New York Times:
"We currently have a deeply depressed economy. We will almost certainly continue to have a depressed economy all through next year. And we will probably have a depressed economy through 2013 as well, if not beyond. The worst thing you can do in these circumstances is slash government spending, since that will depress the economy even further" (emphasis ours).
In addition to the initial cuts and spending caps, the budget deal also directs a bipartisan group of Congressional representatives to propose $1.5 trillion in additional cuts. But Speaker of the House Boehner warns that Republicans would likely refuse to support tax increases no matter what the bipartisan commission suggests. This would, according to the Economic Policy Institute, "place Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits at great risk." Women comprise the majority of beneficiaries for all of these programs.
Legal Momentum urges a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, one that includes both revenue increases and spending cuts. The most recent budget deal would likely be most devastating to communities least able to afford them: women and families hardest hit during the economic downturn.
Learn more about Legal Momentum's work on women and poverty.
Learn more about Legal Momentum's work on women and employment.