The Voices of Women and Young People Are Ignored

Elect More Women; Elect More Young People

It is time for a new American revolution, a peaceful one that corrects the nation’s seriously unbalanced leadership. Start with gender: Women represent a majority of the U.S. population, 169 million to 162 million men in 2021. In the 2020 presidential election, 68.4% of eligible women voted, to 65% of the men. Yet, as of November 2021 there are only 120 women in the 435 member U.S. House of Representatives, and 24 out of 100 in the Senate.

That means only 144 of the 535 people who set our nation’s policies are of the gender that makes up more than half of the population. No wonder many of our national policies represent the mindset of male upbringing and experience. No wonder women’s health care and programs like paid family leave, day care, and child nutrition programs receive such little support in our Congress.

Adding to the serious gender gap in political leadership, consider age: Americans aged 18-44 make up 36.5% of the population. Those who are 45-64 are 26.4%, and those over 65 are 13%. On the other hand, today’s US Senate is the oldest in the nation’s history.  Most top leadership posts are occupied by members in their 60s, 70s and 80s. This offers a good idea of why initiatives to lessen student debt, child and family-oriented programs, free community college and other initiatives aimed to help a younger generation do not get traction from the geriatric Congress.

I am not saying that men and older leaders don’t care are about women and younger people. I am saying that women and young adults need to be at the table with power when policies and programs affecting their lives and the lives of future generations are decided.

The fate of those polices should not be dictated by men who have not demonstrated an understanding of the problems, issues and pressures faced by women and young people.

My hope for a better America, the America of my progeny, is most often found in the vision of women and men of Millennial and Z generations. It is time for those of us who have had our turn at the wheel to step aside and become consulting elders to those who will inherit the country. The time for young and feminine leadership is now.

 

Why Does Congress Fail to Pass Popular Programs?

Do you wonder why the United States Congress fails to pass popular programs, programs that would enhance the lives of millions of Americans? There are several stated reasons, ranging from cost to program philosophy. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave us the clearest insight to the opposition when he said Republicans would be “100% focused on stopping the Biden Administration.”  And, 100% of the Republicans opposed Biden’s $1.8 trillion Build Back Better Act (BBB).

BBB was built to serve people in need, combat the climate crisis and stimulate the economy.  Approximately a third of the proposed funding is focused on children and families: universal pre-kindergarten; child care, and tax credits to reduce child poverty; paid family leave; expanded free lunch programs in schools, and subsidies for the parents of 29 million poor children to purchase food during the summer.

A second third would be invested in infrastructure and initiatives to fight climate change. Health care would become available to two million more low-income Americans, the cost of prescriptions would decrease and the cost of  insulin would be capped at $35 per month. The bill would invest $25 billion in affordable housing for low-income people, and $65 billion for housing and rental assistance.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, most of the BBB is paid for by increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and on corporations.

A majority of Americans support the  programs, but after the bill passed  the House with zero Republican votes it was stymied in the Senate.

The  complaints I most often hear are about the roughly 1.8 trillion 10-year cost. “That will destroy our economy,” they say. This argument is, in my opinion, disingenuous.  When broken into one-year segments the annual cost is one hundred eighty billion dollars.

Compare the one-year cost of providing assistance to Americans with the one-year $770 billion commitment in the Defense Authorization Act, which passed both houses and was signed into law.  That military/defense commitment is approximately four times larger than the annual expenditure for BBB.

Don’t get me wrong. I support a strong commitment to defense, and that requires strong funding. But I also support making an equally strong investment to support millions of Americans.

 Both deserve scrutiny in terms of budget commitment and outcome. The two should work in tandem: the investment in supporting the hope of Americans for a better and more equitable life; and, the ability of the nation to defend that hope. *

*After last week’s post I was asked, “How can you possibly feel hope? It all looks hopeless to me. Where in the world do you find hope?” I responded that I can’t explain “hope” in logical terms. I find the closest description of my sense of hope is in the Christian Bible’s Letter to the Hebrews: “We have this hope, a surefire and steadfast anchor in the soul, a hope that enters in the inner shrine behind the curtain…”  I think it works within me, regardless of the issue or situation, kind of like spellcheck on my word processing program. When I get down, feeling hopeless, the program behind the screen corrects it to “hope.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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