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Posts Tagged ‘Lean In’

Time Lapse Politics / Christine Doyle

If you’re a fan of photography, you know the time lapse technique involves setting up a camera, often to record something like a sunset, minute by minute.  Once edited, these shots show a magical progression of light and color but shooting one is excruciating. That nuanced change can only be seen when sped up. It isn’t perceptible to the naked eye as it us unfolding.

There is a wave of post-1970’s feminism percolating in this country right now.  From the “Lean In” movement to the fact that Hillary Clinton will likely run for President, a modern woman’s movement is impacting the workplace, our social mores and if the Democrats get lucky, our politics.

In terms of public opinion, there is no doubt that the dial has moved on gay marriage and assault weapons. I think most Americans would prefer to keep abortion personal and not political. But, when you look at who is running and who is serving, and the issues that still divide us, it’s clear we are only at the very beginning of an excruciatingly slow time lapse in women’s politics.

What you can’t see in this time lapse moment in politics is the Republican women doing their part behind the scenes to “Lean In in their own communities. They’re starting PACs, websites and schools as a way to impact their communities in positive ways. But these Republican women are waiting for their party and the system to catch up with them. Until that happens, Moderate and Independent women who vote for Republican men, will continue to be accused of  supporting a party that doesn’t get them. 

Do the Democrats still have a lock on women’s votes? And is it because of social issues? According to the Center for American Women and Politics, of the 20 women in the U.S. Senate, only 4 are Republicans. Of the 78 women in the House of Representatives, only 19 are Republicans. The prospects of getting elected a Governor are better for female Republican candidates. Right now 4 out of five female Governors are Republican. Of the state legislatures, of the 1,788 women serving, female Democrat legislators outnumber Republican women legislators nearly 2 to 1.

I am not going to criticize Hillary Clinton or Claire McCaskill who is her front woman, not only here in Missouri, but in key states like Iowa where the Clintons have never been very popular. According to the New York Times, a battalion of women is now forming in Iowa and encouraging Hillary to run. Senator Claire McCaskill, who I voted for once because of her support of stem cell research but couldn’t vote for a second time because I disagreed with her on Obamacare, is Hillary Clinton’s biggest supporter. Again, I am not going to criticize her. Because McCaskill can see women are engaging.

The question I would ask is what is the most effective way to speed up this painfully slow moment in politics? Is it for more Republican women to run as Non-Partisans? Only 10 of the 1,788 state legislators currently serving are NPs. Is it too late or too early in this progression to build up a moderate Republican female voice? It might have been too late for Olympia Snowe to run for President and unfortunately, it might be too soon for the Republicans to fast track the other moderate from Maine, Susan Collins, who is in favor of universal access on healthcare, but is also green, for school choice, pro-choice on abortion and pro-gay?

One thing I have to agree with Sen. McCaskill on is that she is right that this is a historic moment. Or at least the beginning of one.

 

How the I.R.S. Hurts Mothers - Lillian Faulhaber of the New York Times

How the I.R.S. Hurts Mothers – Lillian Faulhaber of the New York Times

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LOST in the debate between Anne-Marie Slaughter’s chronicle of the obstacles confronting career-oriented mothers and Sheryl Sandberg’s call to “lean in” is a crucial reality: taxes. Women — no less than other humans, it turns out — can be rational economic actors.

The tax code starts with a bias in favor of couples in which one partner works and one stays home. Couples with very different incomes (think banker husband, novelist wife) owe less in taxes when they marry, while couples with similar incomes often owe more when they marry.

This bias, however, does not directly discourage one partner from working. What does is the tax code’s treatment of child care.

Most working mothers who pay for child care do so out of their after-tax income. This is not an issue for very well-paid women. Nor is it that relevant for women in poor households, since they most likely don’t pay federal income taxes anyway and are eligible for the earned-income tax credit, the government’s most effective antipoverty program.

It’s women in the middle class who are hit hardest by this treatment of child care. For these couples, increases in the earnings of the better-paid spouse — usually, still, the husband — directly discourage work by the lower-paid spouse. There are several reasons for this: the federal child and dependent-care credit, which is supposed to help with these expenses, decreases as household income increases; the lower-paid spouse’s earnings are taxed at a higher marginal rate because of the other spouse’s earnings; and child care is paid out of after-tax income.

Imagine two women on either end of this middle group, each deciding whether to return to work after having their first child. The first woman’s husband makes $25,000, and the job she is considering pays $25,000. The second woman’s husband makes $90,000, and the job she is considering pays $45,000.

If the first woman enters the work force, she and her husband will lose their entire earned-income tax credit of more than $2,500. Because of her husband’s earnings, a portion of her salary will be taxed at 15 percent. After she pays payroll and state taxes, her after-tax income will be close to $17,000. Say she lives in New York State, where the average cost of day care for an infant is just over $14,000 — almost every after-tax dollar she brings home will go to her child care provider.

Now consider the second woman. If she were single and without children, her after-tax take-home income would have been around $36,000. But because of her husband’s earnings, almost all of her income will now be taxed at a higher rate, 25 percent. After paying for child care, she will take home only around $16,000. This is not even factoring in the fact that many higher-paying jobs, just the type Ms. Sandberg wants women to lean in to, require longer hours — and the more expensive child care that entails.

Many women in these scenarios, where the costs of working outweigh the benefits, would rationally decide not to re-enter the work force.

That decision has a long-term impact. Every year out of the office will affect these women’s retirement savings and Social Security contributions, their chances for promotion, and the likelihood that they will eventually be able to re-enter the work force at the same level and salary. This quite likely contributes to the relatively higher rates of female poverty, especially in old age.

The child and dependent care credit, created in 1976, was meant to address these skewed incentives. But the credit severely underestimates the cost of child care, and is phased out too quickly for higher-earning couples.

The most working parents can receive through the credit is $1,050 (or $2,100 for two or more children), but this amount decreases to $600 (or $1,200 for two or more children) as income increases. Even a couple making $50,000 could use it to reduce their taxes by only $600. Congress was right to prioritize the lowest-income parents, but it shouldn’t ignore the impact policies have on other groups.

What can be done? We could decrease tax rates over all, but that wouldn’t target the obstacles facing second-earners. There are three better possibilities.

We could directly address the high cost of child care by providing or subsidizing such care, as France and Sweden do. (Congress does allow employers to, in effect, subsidize their employees’ child care expenses by letting them exclude a portion from their income. But many companies, particularly smaller ones, do not offer this option, and those that do can exclude only up to $5,000.)

A different approach would be to focus on the tax treatment of child care. We could increase the child and dependent care credit to include the full cost (or at least a higher portion of the cost) of child care, which would increase parents’ after-tax income. Or we could treat child care as a business deduction. This would let parents pay for it out of their pretax income, and would have the added symbolic benefit of acknowledging that child care costs are ordinary and necessary business expenses.

It is unlikely that any of these proposals would pass in the face of sequestration. Nonetheless, we need to acknowledge that women (and other second-earners) are not opting out of the workplace without encouragement. If we truly want them to lean in to the work force, we need to have a tax system that does not push them out.

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Lilian V. Faulhaber is an associate professor of law at Boston University.

Does Sass = Leadership Skills? Let’s hope so! By Sandy Coburn

Bossy The buzz right now is all about Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean In.” Sandberg, who is Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, is a crusader for increasing the number of women in leadership positions in our corporate world and government. My hat’s off to her, and she says that if your daughter is considered Bossy, that it is a good sign, and rather than stifle or tame any of her instincts, she should be encouraged – as bossy behavior is a precursor to leadership skills. Girls demonstrating authority, confidence, and autonomy are dominant in a good way (not mean girls?!)…so I’m hoping SASSY fits nicely into this same category…

My nineteen year old daughter, who is attending college in London, was in a Club (legally) with two of her friends from Norway, when she noticed an older gentleman staring at her, “like really staring, you know creepy, stalkerish, Mom,” she explained.  So when he approached her “delicate” 6’2” frame in towering heels, she quickly, defensively stated, “Your staring is making me very uncomfortable, please stop.” To which he responded, “Well now, we have some real SASS here don’t we?  Are you by chance an American?” Yes, I am, she nodded in the affirmative, and he responded, “I had a good reason to stare my lady, I was studying you; I own this place,” he turned while gesturing, “Follow me.”

As a mother, you’re always holding your breath, in anticipation of that possibility of a “tragic turn of events,” but my daughter said mom, you always said follow your instincts, and my gut said this is a good thing (of course she noticed he had grabbed a huge bottle of let’s say Perrier- for her grandfather’s sake – before he turned the corner around the back of the bar.) 

There, in his VIP room, he introduced her to none other than Justin Bieber; his entourage; and his four “goons” who she said made sure NO ONE captured the event with phone cams. And so another brush with fame began. (Her list of brushes: Springsteen, Streisand, Eastwood, Khashoggi weren’t lame)

Justin said, “Wow you sound like an American!” And she laughed, “And you sound like a Canadian, hahaha,” and she added, “Yeah, my friends are obsessed with you!”  To which Master Bieber inquired, “And you?” Here’s where mom would have fallen on her face …”Well,” she said, “I respect you as an artist, but I’m not obsessed with you.” And instead of having his Guidoes throw her down -and out – Justin enthused, “GREAT! Then you can sit here all night,” as he pointed to his table.

Well she didn’t want to bore me with details. (I begged.) “You know we laughed a lot, he just wanted to be a normal kid, and have fun and not worry about anything…so we talked music, and laughed some more, and we all, about 8 or us, just you know, hung out and were normal. It was cool, we were chill.”

“Honey do you realize…” she cut me off, “Yeah mom, Justin Bieber, but he wasn’t Diplo ~ I’m obsessed with Diplo!” This is the “never satisfied’’ element of the teenager I don’t remember being.  Is this part of the “Bossy Nature?” because I, on the other hand, was a satisfied “follower,” sort of…I actually had just called to ask her why the huge “cab fare” debit had appeared from that day. I trace all of her movements by my sort of “chip method,” which is to say her credit card balances which appear on my account! Instead of reading her the riot act, I suppose I was like a deer in the headlights, Bieberized vicariously through my daughter, who said, “Yeah, so we had to leave later, in stages, kinda’, dismissed by the goons, and I had to take a cab rather than the tube.” I got it, so at this point all I could utter was a “Well way to go Sassy!” 

“Oh and Mom, since I am showing my photos this week at the thing at the V&A, and am going to teach six Sundays at the Saatchi, I’m going to need a lot more money in the transportation department, because I have to schlep so much art stuff around!” Sassy is as sassy does.

I can only pray that this sassy, bossy, artsy young thing will be looked upon as a young leader poised for greatness by whoever will be giving her a pass!