Congress has taken a small step to fix the failing free market

What to do next? How to take action in a post-Roe world: Patrick T. Brown, editor’s note: CNN and five thirty eight years after Dobbs

Editor’s Note: Patrick T. Brown is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank and advocacy group based in Washington, DC. The Joint Economic Committee hired him as a senior policy adviser. Follow him on Twitter. The views he gives in this piece are his own. There is more opinion on CNN.

This shows that there is a chance for Republicans to compete for middle-of-the-road voters who are willing to vote for the GOP even if they do not approve of abortion. Republicans still don’t know what to do in a post-Roe world, that’s their greatest political liability. And if they are interested in swaying gettable voters, they should prove their seriousness about being authentically pro-life, not just anti-abortion.

In tough Senate races, like the ones in Arizona and Georgia, Democrats have tried to paint their Republican competitors as extremists on reproductive rights. In Michigan, Minnesota, Georgia and Pennsylvania there have been millions of dollars in ads portraying the Republicans as wanting to ban abortion without exception.

It could be more effective to try and neutralize progressive attacks on abortion than to hide the ball. Republicans should tell voters that Democrats have an extreme stance on abortion and stress that addressing economic and cultural factors is what helps women decide in the first place.

The motivating force for voters in the Democratic Party is abortion. For independents, the dynamic is more complex. A recent KFF Health Tracking Poll found one-third of Democratic women want to hear candidates talk about abortion, but only 16% of independent women share this sentiment.

According to the polling by FivethirtyEight, abortion has become less important to some voters due to inflation, crime rates and fears of an economic downturn. 29% of women ages 18 to 44 said abortion was one of their top three political priorities in June after the Dobbs ruling. In a poll conducted in September, that number had dropped to 12%.

In the unsettled political environment of our post-Roe midterms, Republicans have little to lose sketching out a proactive vision rather than just hunkering down on defense. An explicit stance in favor of supporting women through stronger safety net spending and improving maternal health would soften the hard-edged image the left would love to paint and could influence key races that could decide the balance of power in Washington, DC, and state capitals.

Some Republicans who have been elected have changed their minds. Marco said he was coming up with a package of safety net proposals that would boost resources available to pregnant mothers and give mothers and their babies the support they need.

Red states like Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina have opted into a federal program that provides postpartum Medicaid coverage for a year after birth, up from the previous standard of 60 days; it should be a no-brainer for every state that advances restrictions on abortion to follow suit. Texas and Indiana also passed new spending aimed at supporting low-income moms at the same time as passing restrictions on abortion, demonstrating their commitment to being pro-life both during and after pregnancy.

There is obviously a strong moral case to be made that Republicans should make life easier for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. There is a political case there as well. The importance of pre- and post-partum support in a post-Roe America would be recognized by an agenda that puts parents first. Moderate voters are turned away by the extreme position on either side of the abortion debate. They could get the support for new mothers if they were given sensible exemptions for rape and incest. Inroads among those voters could be enough to tip the scales in a close race.

This doesn’t sit well with traditional GOP politics. Doug Heye said that abortion was not an issue he would like to be discussing. But ducking the issue lets Democrats’ strongest attack this cycle go unanswered – and calls into question the GOP’s sincerity in being authentically pro-life.

What Do We Need to Know about Women and Work? The Case of Gretchen Whitmer, Elissa Slotkin and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez

Reshma Saujani is a founder of Girls WHO Code and the Marshall Plan for Moms. She is the author of “Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work (And Why It’s Different Than You Think)”. The views expressed here are hers. Read more opinion on CNN.

As pundits began to forecast a looming red wave, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer put a stake in the ground.

The governor stated that we need to get women back in the workplace. You know how to do that? You empower women. You don’t take our ability to make the most important economic decision we make in our lifetimes away from us.”

In the months that followed, commentators and pollsters breathlessly speculated about whether voters would prioritize abortion or the economy in casting their vote. Indeed, Republicans rejoiced – and Democrats despaired – in seeing both the Dow and the abortion decision backlash dip earlier this fall.

Not many Democrats made that case as compellingly as Whitmer; some failed to see abortion (not to mention health care, child care and parental leave) as intertwined with the economy, period. I believe those who won got lucky as they had to compete against candidates who couldn’t run on these issues, and many of them had forced women to have children and failed to protect them. And in the five states where abortion was on the ballot, voters turned out to support it every time – often with down-ballot benefits to show for it.

Whitmer is certainly proof of this – but so is Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who won a toss-up race, in part by linking abortion restrictions and labor shortages; Rep. Katie Porter of California, whose consistent messaging that reproductive freedom is necessary for economic security, clearly hit home in her competitive district; and US Representative-elect Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington, who clinched the biggest upset of the season by not only discussing abortion, but also the lack of affordable, quality child care for working parents like herself.

To be clear, candidates red and blue were right to campaign on top-of-mind economic issues like inflation and gas prices. Both economists and voters said the Republican Party didn’t have a plan to address them. As parents, these costs hit us as hard as anyone: inflation makes haircuts and snacks more expensive, and soaring gas costs make it more difficult to pay for things like soccer cleats.

Every day parents’ budgets are killed by additional costs. Child care costs are rising more quickly than inflation. With pre-school costing more than an in-state college degree, and 40% of parents going into debt, this is a big reason why children are not moving into dorm rooms.

The Most Fundamental Financial Issue for Families: What Democrat Policies Can Do for a Better Nation and How to Make the Most Of Its Possible

Access to paid sick or family and medical leave is largely a matter to be worked out between employers and employees rather than guaranteed for the vast majority of the workforce, creating enormous disparities and with implications for individual and public health, economic security and the robustness of the US economy overall.

And then, as Whitmer argued, there’s the most fundamental financial issue for parents, and especially for Black women – whether or not to become one in the first place. Months after the Dobbs decision overturning, it’s more expensive than ever to raise a child – over $18,000 per year, per child for a working-class family, according to a Brookings Institution analysis. The Supreme Court made you have to care for a child because of higher gas prices, but they pale in comparison to the cost.

But Democrats can’t count on Republicans to make the same mistake twice. They need to inform voters that reproductive freedom is economic freedom over the next couple of years.

The second chance many Democrats were given this election meant putting paid leave back on the table, as well as lowering the cost of child care, increasing access to education and health care, and codifying women’s rights. The policies would ease parents’ financial stresses more than Republican corporate tax breaks could ever provide, and history has shown that the candidates’ numbers will improve if they articulate the value of these policies.

These candidates offer a blueprint for a better nation – and, looking ahead to 2024, Democrats would be wise to take them and their strategy seriously. They’ve shown us a future where leaders talk about these policies as the pocketbook issues they are and prove they can pass them on behalf of the people.

Most importantly, it’s a world in which parents across the political spectrum can be sure that the party they elected is, finally, giving us a chance, too.

Work, Families, and Economic Opportunities: A New Look at Recent Progress in Pregnant Workers Fairness and Pay and Medical Leave Policies

Editor’s Note: Vicki Shabo is a senior fellow at New America, a think tank in Washington, DC, where she focuses on paid family and medical leave and other work-family policies that advance gender, racial and economic equity. She has testified before Congress multiple times on America’s need for paid leave and other policies that support women’s workforce participation and earnings. The views expressed here are hers. Read more opinion at CNN.

There is more that is needed. Policy makers should look at how public investments can be better for families and working people if they want to make a difference in the future.

The health, care and economic problems were caused by the Covid-19 swine flu. The racial justice event shone a light on bias that makes it hard for people of color to get fair treatment and economic opportunity. A historic number of worker strikes and labor actions. The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, constraining women’s reproductive health decisions.

Questions about government, power, and the need to re-balance what is public and what is private to maximize opportunities for families and the strength of the economy have been raised. Now that the Congress is off for the holidays, there is progress.

The Pregnant Workers fairness Act was passed by Congress as part of the end-of-year omnibus package and it will allow pregnant people the ability to request reasonable accommodations to protect their health.

Congress also finally closed gaps in current law through the PUMP Act, guaranteeing space, time and privacy for nursing workers in all jobs; prior to the passage of the PUMP Act, an estimated 13 million women of working age were excluded from current nursing mothers’ provisions.


End-of-Year Omnibus Spending: How Congress has Done What It Takes to Protect Children, Families, and Home-Based Care

Both measures were adopted as amendments to the $1.7 trillion end-of-year omnibus spending bill which passed in the Senate Thursday. It will go to the floor of the House Friday before the deadline.

Families are mainly left to find child care or care for disabled loved ones on their own, and this effects caregivers, most of them women. Professional caregivers are underpaid and undervalued, creating instability and insecurity in the care workforce.

The availability of tax credits for families with children is limited, and that leads to challenges for parents who need to buy shoes and clothes for their children, pay for band uniforms and field trips, or even put food on the table.

The reality that families’ work and care challenges are considered private comes on the heels of Dobbs, which paradoxically made private decisions about abortion and child-bearing matters of heightened public debate, after nearly 50 years of case law protecting reproductive health choices as part of all Americans’ constitutional right to privacy.

Never before in the lifetimes of most people alive today have medical choices been so constrained and so obscenely scrutinized, with harms especially to women in the southern United States, where abortion access is most limited, and to poor women and women of color whose maternal and infant health care access is less and who face greater risks associated with childbirth.

Congress has put together an end-of-year omnibus spending package. Millions of nursing and pregnant workers will be helped by the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This is literally the least Congress can do to support healthy pregnancies and babies. Increased spending for Child Care Block Development Grants and Head Start will help to shore up the existing child care system.

There were some important work left undone in this Congress. The omnibus package failed to re-establish CTC enhancements that helped so many families during the pandemic, despite valiant efforts by advocates and congressional champions. Earlier policy fights this year failed to result in the transformational investments in paid family and medical leave, child care and home- and community-based care that President Biden proposed and that the House of Representatives passed in November 2021 in the Build Back Better Act.

This most recent Congress has done other important things that show that the federal government can do good – and perhaps that provides hope for the future, as success can beget more action.

The Democrats made temporary investments in child care and home care providers in order to provide more money and flexibility for families, as part of their American Rescue Plan. Infrastructure legislation has been in the works and passed with bipartisan support for decades due to the fact that it is seen as a public good.

Democrats in Congress made historic investments this year in health care, clean energy, and the tax code as a result of the inflation reduction act. It was unthinkable a couple of years ago that the Congress would pass a law protecting the rights of the LGBTQ population to marry.


Free Market Families: What Do They Tell Us About Their Family Life? When Do Families Find Their Social Home? How Dr. David Cass and his wife, Susan, and Seth Dowland

So perhaps there is a path forward. It’s time to revisit the “free market family,” to use a term coined by University of North Carolina law professor Maxine Eichner. The idea that family care and family support are personal or private matters, or subject to individual-level negotiations with employers, is an idea long perpetuated by the private sector, wealthy libertarians and conservative ideologues.

After nearly three years of uncertainty for families due to the pandemic, and a fall season that saw a record number of parents out of the workforce because of care needs or illness, an increase in families’ economic hardships earlier this year after historic reductions, we should celebrate victories for pregnant and nursing workers.

The group has founded think tanks, published statements of principle and organized discussions with policymakers to push its cause. The ideas on policy that Mr. Cass had were shaped by his own family life. His wife works from home in the western part of Massachusetts where they both live.

Mr. Cass served as the domestic policy director for Mr. Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign; in 2020, he founded American Compass, a think tank that has tried to build conservative momentum for more generous government support to working families. The priorities include child cash benefits, wage subsidies, and even reviving the labor movement.

The economic plight of many families is what some conservatives think about when they land on what amounts to a new entitlement program. The pressures of wage stagnation, low marriage rates and the opioid epidemic have helped erode Republican anti-government orthodoxy, said Seth Dowland, a historian of the family values movement and professor of religion at Pacific Lutheran University.

“There are some Republicans looking at this and saying, ‘We need to invest in rebuilding families and rebuilding communities, because it’s dire in some places — and it’s our voters,’” he said.

A mother-of- seven: her husband is a tech executive and he is much more a baby person than she was at age 14

Ms. Bachiochi, the mother of seven children, 4 to 21, is a fellow at two think tanks, the Abigail Adams Institute and the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She said that her husband is a tech executive and that he is much more a baby person than she is. In an interview, she recalled struggling to get reading and writing done while her babies were napping.

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