Budget Battle Wounds Women; Wage Gap Remains Same

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(WOMENSENEWS)–It was another week of money discord as Democrats and Republicans continued to square off over vastly different budgets for 2012.

While GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s version called for switching Medicare to a private voucher system with no public health care guarantees, President Barack Obama pushed back hard against that idea in a speech on April 13 that is likely to set the battle lines for his 2012 re-election.

Obama also mentioned cutting $400 billion from the military budget, an area where Ryan has been proposing increases. Obama also favors letting the Bush-era tax cuts for high-income people expire next year, to help ease the deficit. His Republican opponents seized on that element of the speech to call it a tax-hike speech.

The president’s speech came a day after the first "Global Day of Action on Military Spending" to spotlight the $1.6 trillion in global military spending at a time of widespread economic crisis, reported the Institute for Public Accuracy.

On Equal Pay Day on April 12 the Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a breakdown of male-female earnings by full-time workers and found women’s pay lagging in 107 of 111 occupations, regardless of levels of education.

The occupation with the widest pay gap is that of personal financial advisor. Women in this field earn about 58 percent of men: $962 a week compared to $1647.

Carrie Lukas, executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum, dismissed the validity of gender pay gap concerns in an April 12 column in the Wall Street Journal, entitled There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap. Lukas portrayed women’s lower earnings as a result of the choices they made to enter low-pressure jobs.

The New York-based Women’s Media Center expressed outrage that the Journal didn’t run a balancing piece given that the "wage gap was recently recalculated by the United States Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showing that women still earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn."

Planned Parenthood Funding Safe

On April 9, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, thanked politicians and supporters for safeguarding Planned Parenthood funding from getting cut in the 2011 U.S. budget compromise bill reached late on April 8. But Keenan decried lawmakers for reinstating a ban that denies Washington, D.C.’s local leaders the option of using locally raised funds to provide abortion care to low-income women.

The Senate voted down a bill to defund Planned Parenthood with a vote 53 to 47, along party lines, on April 14. The bill was not expected to pass the Democratic-led Senate after Republicans insisted a vote be made.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray and six Council members were among 41 people arrested April 11 outside the Capitol while protesting the limits imposed by the budget compromise. Seven hours later, they were released from jail, the Associated Press reported.

Overseas family planning programs lost money in the budget compromise, reported the San Francisco Examiner. The agreement slashes funding for Title X of the Public Health Service Act by $17 million and international family planning by $73 million, including a $15 million cut to the United Nations Population Fund.

Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., meanwhile, drew some mockery from late-night TV comics after saying his comments about Planned Parenthood were "not intended to be a factual statement." Last week the Republican senator from Arizona claimed that Planned Parenthood devotes more than 90 percent of its resources to providing abortions, Online Journal reported. In fact, Planned Parenthood devotes approximately 3 percent of its resources to abortion. No federal funding goes directly to abortion services.

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