National policies have an inordinate impact on the quality of life for women: they are much more likely than their male counterparts to be underemployed and to take time out of the workforce to serve as unpaid caregivers. They live longer, dealing with more chronic illnesses, while making less money. They sit squarely at the intersection of the personal and the political. The actions – or in the case of the current U.S. Congress, inaction—by elected officials can be life choices to women.
Yet while women register and vote in higher percentages than men, 22 million women who were eligible to vote sat out the November 2010 election.
Getting more women to the polls in 2014 – and beyond—has the potential to transform our political environment.
A September 2012 survey by Celinda Lake found that regardless of political affiliation, 80 percent of women agreed on 80 percent of the issues. They also tended to support efforts to build consensus, solve problems and bring private and public interests together. Multi-taskers themselves, they expect elected officials to have multiple priorities. These are the qualities that are sorely needed at all levels of government.
Where are the missing women? Recent research shows that a growing number are online.
After all, 75% of women online say they use social networking sites. On Facebook, 70% of users claim to get most of their news from friends and family. And 64% of online gamers are women
There is also research demonstrating that people are more likely to register and vote when asked by a friend. This makes the growing online connectivity an efficient and effective way to reach and engage the missing.
As Nancy Pelosi often says, “Nothing is more wholesome to the governmental and political process than increased participation of women.”
Stay tuned for more from OWL and the missing 22 million women, and how we’re going to find them.
It’s July 30, 2013. You are 48 years old, and if YOU TWO don’t have a Happy Birthday, who will? We will all suspect something is wrong. Maybe you haven’t been getting enough sleep, or maybe you are not eating right. The Congress isn’t treating you badly, is it?
Maybe, too, you are both very proud of your lives, as you work your way through middle age; or maybe you are a little disappointed in your accomplishments.
Maybe you could have done more, and aren’t thinking right now about all of your millions of friends and supporters, let alone the nearly 1.5 million people who consider Medicaid and Medicare nothing less than lifelines to participation in the game of life, no matter how many years go by.
Medicaid, at just 48 years old, you are the nation’s primary health insurance program and the largest source of financing for services for people with disabilities in the United States. For low-income individuals and families, you have made it work: a federal-state partnership to provide a secure health care safety net that is a proven agent of stronger families and communities across our country.
Medicare, you are the promise our country has made to older Americans that they will have the medical care they need to live healthier lives, far into old age. This promise is the acknowledgement that after contributing their life’s work to our nation’s well-being, older Americans deserve to be able to live out their years with the security and peace of mind that comes with having affordable health insurance. Medicare, you have succeeded.
And at the peak of your lives, you are still growing and contributing. Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare, you are seeing to it that 32.5 million seniors and people with disabilities are able to take advantage of free preventive services, such as mammograms or cardiovascular disease screening. Additionally, more than 5.2 million people who receive Medicare benefits have saved more than $3.9 billion on their medications in the past three years through savings mandated by the ACA.
We celebrate your success, Medicare and Medicaid. We are pleased with the way you have grown over the years in service and sophistication, and the way you have stretched your spheres of caring and helping people. Yet, we are worried. We are afraid The Congress is indeed treating you badly.
They are embroiled, as we speak, in efforts that can severely undermine Medicare. They call it “reform.” Medicare, even though the data confirm you as an extremely cost-efficient program, you face threats of cuts in benefits, and cost shifts to beneficiaries who can little afford them. There is no doubt your integrity is threatened; and there are those who would make even more dangerous cuts to benefits today that would only make your program weaker over the years.
And Medicaid, do you know what a BLOCK GRANT is? Well, it’s not the Medicaid we have known for 48 years, and it is something The Congress is seriously discussing. Gone would be the Entitlement that brings peace of mind to millions, the kind of peace of mind that comes from the guarantee that what props me up today with better health, will prop me up tomorrow. You would be essentially gutted by a nearly billion-dollar cut over ten years that would reshape your programs and leave many older Americans and people with low incomes out in the cold.
At OWL, we are joining the efforts of organizations like The National Senior Citizens Law Center to protect the rights of low-income older adults as states enact reforms of all types and continue to shift more and more of the provision of Medicare and Medicaid services to managed care plans. We have no choice but to work diligently throughout the country to ensure these changes lead to better access to high quality care that is affordable to all.
We cannot let older adults return to that sad specter from days gone by, an impoverished generation of people trying to handle their increasing health care costs with no assistance whatsoever. Medicare has made it possible for millions to live knowing that a lengthy hospital stay, a serious injury or the need for expensive medication will not bankrupt them. And we cannot let generations of those with low income and the millions who need long term services and supports return to poor health, isolation and insecurity because Medicaid is block granted.
Medicare and Medicaid, we celebrate your 48th anniversary by recognizing how valuable you are to the health of our nation’s older adults, low-income families, and people with disabilities. You may rest assured that the majority of Americans do not want any damage done to any of your programs.
Janna Starr is a Policy Analyst for the Oregon Health Authority, working on health care transformation for Oregon’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) populations and state implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act. Before returning to Oregon in 2007, Starr was Director of Disability Rights, Technology, and Family Policy for The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy Disability Policy Collaboration in Washington, DC.
Previously, she was Executive Director of the Oregon State Council on Developmental Disabilities; Director of Public Policy for the national Brain Injury Association in Alexandria, VA; Senior Policy Associate for United Cerebral Palsy Associations in Washington, DC; Policy Analyst for the Oregon Advocacy Center in Portland, Oregon, and Executive Director of The Arc of Oregon in Salem, Oregon, the Arc of the Capital Area in Austin, Texas and El Centro Social in San Marcos, Texas. Janna has been honored with numerous awards over the years for her work with individuals with disabilities and disability organizations. The Arc of the United States recognized her with its Legislative Advocacy Award, and she was recently presented with the State of Oregon Administrator’s Excellence Award.
Current OWL members are receiving or have received a ballot to vote on revised national OWL bylaws that were recommended by the Board of Directors at the October, 2012 meeting. For comparison purposes, what follows are the current bylaws, adopted in 2006:
BYLAWS OF THE OLDER WOMEN’S LEAGUE
[as last amended 2006]
A California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation
1. The name of this corporation is the Older Women’s League, hereinafter referred to as OWL.
1. Principal Office. The Principal Office of OWL shall be in Washington, D.C. metro area.
2. Other Offices. OWL may also have offices at such other places inside or outside the State of California, as the Board of Directors, hereinafter referred to as Directors, may designate.
1.The purpose of owl shall be to identify and address issues of concern to mid-life and older women – through research, education and public speaking – and take all actions in furtherance of such purpose, which do not conflict with its tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Section 501 ( c ) (3), or any successor statute of similar import. OWL shall not participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.
2. The by-laws govern OWL. A manual of policies and procedures established by the Board shall supplement the by-laws and shall be available to the members.
1. Any person who subscribes to the mission of OWL may become a member by paying the dues established from time to time by the Directors, and shall remain a member for so long as she or he continues to pay dues.
2. Classes. OWL shall have only one class of members. No member shall hold more than one membership in OWL.
3. Dues. Annual dues shall be set by the Directors. The Directors may establish a graduated schedule of dues. Such schedule shall not establish different classes of members.
4. Admission. Membership shall be established by payment of annual dues.
5. Voting. Each member shall have one vote on any issue that is presented to the membership. Issues that must be presented for a vote of all members shall be presented in a manner that provides an opportunity for each member to vote. There shall be no proxy voting. The vote shall be carried by a majority of those voting.
6. Issues Requiring a Vote of the Membership. The election of the Directors, revisions in the by-laws, and revisions in “The OWL Agenda” (OWL’s public policy goals) shall be presented by the Directors for a vote of the membership. Members may call for a special vote of the membership on an issue by submitting a proposal in writing to the Executive Director, signed by 10% of the members in good standing, to be voted on at the time of the next election of the Directors.
7. Meetings. Meetings of members shall be held at such times and places, and for such purposes, as the Directors may determine. Members may call for a special meeting of the members by submitting a proposal in writing to the Executive Director signed by 5% of the members in good standing. Those submitting the proposal shall make the arrangements for such a meeting and work with the Directors and the Executive Director to implement the proposal. Votes taken on issues presented at any meeting of the membership shall represent the sense of the meeting but shall not be binding on the Directors.
8. Annual Meeting. The Directors shall designate in each calendar year an annual meeting. The membership shall be notified and invited to attend at least sixty days prior to the meeting. The agenda shall provide the opportunity for members to speak and to propose new business for consideration by the Directors.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
1. Number and Eligibility. The Board shall consist of not less than nine (9) members, and not more than twenty-one (21) members, the exact number to be determined from time to time by the Directors. Each Director shall be a member in good standing of OWL at the time of nomination, election and service.
2. Regional Representatives. The Directors shall establish and recognize up to ten (10) regions. Members from each region shall elect one representative to the Board of Directors. Regional representatives shall be a liaison between the Directors and the members in the region, chapters, and state and regional organizations.
3. Directors Elected by All Members. All other Directors shall be known as ”at large” Directors and shall be elected by all members. An immediate past-president shall be an additional member of the Directors with a right to vote.
4. Powers. The activities and affairs of OWL shall be conducted and all corporate powers shall be exercised by or under the direction of the Directors in accordance with the California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law, the Articles of Incorporation, and these bylaws.
5. Election and Terms. Directors shall be elected by the membership by mailed written ballot in even-numbered years. Each director shall hold office for a two-year period, beginning with the first meeting of the Board of Directors held in the calendar year following the Director’s election. No director shall serve for more than three successive terms, provided that the terms of less than twelve (12) months shall be disregarded.
6. Meetings. The Directors shall hold regular meetings at such times and places as they may from time to time determine. Special meetings shall be held at the request of the president or of any two officers, or of one-third of the Directors. All directors shall receive at least twenty (20) days written notice of any regular or special meeting, unless written waiver-of-notice is signed by any director not so notified.
7. Quorum. A quorum shall consist of a majority of the Directors.
8. Voting. The affirmative vote of a majority of the Directors present at a meeting, at which a quorum is present, is necessary for the approval of business. Such approval constitutes an act of the Board of Directors. The president shall vote only to break a tie vote.
9. Vacancies. Vacancies shall be filled by the president for the balance of the term, subject to approval of the Directors at the next regular or special meeting. Any vacancy for a regional representative shall be filled only with a member from that region.
10. Compensation. Directors shall serve without compensation, except they may be allowed their actual, reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in attending Directors’ meetings, or in the performance of their duties.
11. Conflict of Interest. No Director or member of her or his family shall be hired as salaried staff of OWL.
12. Delegation. The Directors may from time to time delegate whatever duties they may see fit to standing committees, ad-hoc committees, or the Executive Director, except that no duties may be delegated which would be contrary to California Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation Law.
13. Appointed Directors. Following the beginning of a president’s term, the president may appoint one additional Director, subject to approval of the Directors, who may serve during the term of the appointing president.
1. Election of Officers. The Directors, at the first meeting of the calendar year beginning after the Board elections, shall elect from its members a president, vice president, secretary, and a chief financial officer who shall be designated the treasurer, as well as such additional officers as the Directors shall consider necessary. The new officers shall assume their duties at the end of that meeting. The outgoing officers shall remain in office until such time as the new officers assume their duties.
2. Duties of Officers. The president shall preside at all meetings of the board and general membership, exercise general supervision over the affairs of OWL, and have such other powers as ordinarily accompany the office.
The vice president shall, in the absence of the president, carry out the duties and obligations of the office of the president. If the office of the president is vacated for any reason, the vice president shall assume the duties and obligations of the office of the president until the next regularly scheduled election of officers.
The secretary shall keep a record of the proceedings of meetings; give notice of meetings; and, in the absence of the president and vice president, call a meeting to order and delegate duties as appropriate.
The treasurer, under the general supervision of the Directors, shall have oversight of the monies and of distributions made according to policies prescribed by the Directors; and may delegate duties as appropriate.
3. Terms of Office. Each officer shall hold office for a two-year period, and may be reelected for an additional term.
4. Removal from Office. Any officer may be removed from office by the Directors for inability to perform the duties of the office or for other good cause.
1. Appointment. The Directors shall appoint from outside its body an Executive Director who shall serve at the Directors’ discretion.
2. Duties. The Executive Director shall be ex-officio to the Board of Directors, attend all regular meetings, and carry out all duties designated to her or him by the Directors. The Executive Director shall serve under the general supervision of the Directors, and shall be subject to the Directors’ authority. The Executive Director shall hire and supervise all staff.
3. Compensation. The Executive Director shall receive reasonable compensation for her or his services.
1. Members. At the first meeting of each calendar year, the Directors shall appoint from its body an executive committee. The executive committee shall include the officers, the immediate past-president, and such other Directors as determined by the board.
2. Ex-Officio. The Executive Director shall be ex-officio to the executive committee, and shall attend its meetings. The executive committee may invite non-members, or meet in open or closed sessions, as it chooses.
3. Duties. The executive committee shall meet as often as it or the Directors deem necessary. It will carry out all duties delegated to it by the Directors, and shall act for the Directors in case of emergency. The executive committee shall report on its operations to the Directors at each regular and annual meeting.
1. The Directors may create such standing, ad hoc or advisory committees as they may deem necessary for the promotion of the objectives of OWL. The president shall appoint members to the committees with the approval of the Directors. All members of OWL shall be eligible for membership upon all committees so created
1. Nominations. The Directors, at least six months before the election, shall provide for the appointment of a nominating committee. The past president shall chair and select two additional members to this committee. The nominating committee shall be precluded from offering in nomination one of its own members.
It shall be a duty of this committee to nominate a slate of Directors. In addition, any member may be nominated and added to the ballot by petition signed by the candidate and a number of members equal to 1% of the number of ballots cast in the preceding election. Candidates for regional representative may be nominated by petition signed by the candidate and a number of members residing in that region equal to 1% of the number of ballots cast from that region at the preceding election. Petitions must be received eight weeks prior to the mailing of ballots.
2. Ballot. A ballot containing the names of the nominees, in an order determined by lot, shall be mailed to the members of OWL at least five weeks before the date of the election. The ballot shall be accompanied by a statement of each of the nominees. Only members of the region shall be eligible to vote for the representative for that region.
3. Elections. Elections of the Directors shall be by secret ballot. Each member shall have one vote for each vacancy and one vote for the Regional Representative Director from the member’s region. Cumulative voting shall not be permitted.
4. Counting the Ballots. The Directors shall appoint a Judge of the Election from outside OWL, and it shall be her or his duty to supervise the counting of the ballots and to report the results in writing to the president. The nominees receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected. A tie shall be broken by lot, the loser becoming an alternate member of the board, with the right to attend all meetings and the right to vote at any meeting where a Director is absent.
1. Charter. The Directors may charter any petitioning local group of members of OWL that meet the criteria established by the Directors.
2. Organization. At its organizational meeting, a chapter shall adopt bylaws and elect officers to manage its affairs. The bylaws of a chapter shall not contain anything that is at variance with expressed purposes of OWL or its bylaws, and shall be approved by the National Directors before becoming effective. All chapter bylaws shall adopt by reference the national bylaws. A chapter may not change its bylaws without approval of the National Directors.
3. Revocation. The Directors may annul, revoke or suspend a chapter if, in the opinion of two-thirds of the Directors, it is in the best interests of OWL. Such action shall not affect the membership standing of individual members of said chapter. Any chapter which fails to hold an executive committee or membership meeting for more than six months, or which acts contrary to the stated objectives and adopted policies of OWL, may have its chapter revoked. Written specifications on the grounds upon which the proposed action is to be based shall be furnished to the chapter involved, and a reasonable opportunity to be heard shall be provided the chapter.
4. Dues. Chapters may set their own dues, except that in no case can the dues exceed the amount of the national dues. Members of chapters must also be members of National OWL.
5. Authority to Act. Chapters shall work on the national agenda. In addition, each chapter is authorized to undertake all such local activities as are not inconsistent with the purposes of OWL and are not prohibited by a general rule of the Directors applicable to all chapters.
6. Liaison. Six months after the organization of the chapter, the chair of the chapter shall submit a written report to the National Directors. On or before March 1 of each year thereafter, the chair of the chapter shall submit to the National Directors a written report concerning the previous calendar year.
Each chapter may request a copy of the minutes of the regular meetings of the National Board of Directors and the annual audit.
7. Materials by National. National OWL may supply and charge for materials requested by chapters as the Directors shall from time to time authorize. The existence of chapters shall in no way be construed as obligating OWL to address or serve its membership through chapter channels.
STATE AND REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
1. State or Regional Organizations. The Directors may charter a state organization and/or a regional organization meeting the criteria established by the Directors.
2. Organization. A state organization shall adopt bylaws and elect officers to manage its affairs. The bylaws of a state organization shall not contain anything that is at variance with the expressed purpose of OWL or its bylaws, and shall be approved by the National Directors before becoming effective. All state bylaws shall adopt by reference the national bylaws. A state organization may not change its bylaws without approval of the National Directors.
3. Revocation. The Directors may annul, revoke or suspend a state or regional organization if, in the opinion of two-thirds of the Directors, it is in the best interest of OWL. Such action shall not affect the standing of individual members of OWL. Any state or regional organization which acts contrary to the stated objectives and adopted principles of OWL shall have its charter revoked. Written specifications of the grounds upon which the proposed action is to be based shall be furnished to the state or regional organization involved and all members of OWL in the state or region, and a reasonable opportunity to be heard shall be provided.
1. Articles of Incorporation. The Directors of OWL shall represent and act for the members in the amendment of the Articles of Incorporation of OWL, from time to time. Any changes in the articles shall require a two-thirds vote of the Directors.
2. Bylaws. These bylaws are fundamental, and shall not be altered except by a vote of the Directors and confirmed by two-thirds vote of all ballots cast on a given measure by the general membership.
3. All meetings of OWL shall be conducted in a manner consistent with Robert’s Rules of Order.
These bylaws were adopted by the Board of Directors of the Older Women’s League at the meeting of the Board in Des Moines, Iowa on October 11, 1980 and include the amendments voted by the membership on October 13, 1981, October 12, 1983, October 12, 1984, October 11, 1985, October 11, 1986, October 1987, October 15, 1995, November 3, 1997, September 30, 2000, and October 28, 2006.
Independence Day conjures up many positive images. The celebration of individuals, and countries, that are self-reliant, and even strong enough to care for the less fortunate. No one’s master, and no one’s slave. Most of us think of ourselves this way-independent. One of our greatest fears about aging is the loss of independence, equating it with dependence. Many are so afraid of dependency that we cannot admit we are growing old, and thus do not prepare for the time when we will need help. Our idealization of independence leads us to ignore the reality of our interdependence.
One of my very good friends, Ken Schug, died recently. He was a very vigorous 88 year old until a few months ago. Although he attended end of life planning sessions in our OWL chapter meetings, and estate planning seminars presented by our favorite local neighborhood organization, he could not personalize the messages. He assumed he had at least another decade to think about how to ensure his legacy. When he died, he had only a most basic will (signed in the hospital) and his sons are now struggling to locate crucial documents so they can manage the estate. This man, who dedicated his
life to being the strong, competent, caring one has not lived up to his own ideals because he could not confront his eventual need to depend on others.
Our next OWL Mother’s Day campaign will focus on long term care. This is when we really face the consequences of illusory independence and recognize the importance of honoring interdependence.
I am also involved in the national Village movement, organizing to grow older well by “neighbors helping neighbors”. Most of us want to defer moving into any setting where we are regarded as dependent, but we recognize we cannot maintain the illusion (or reality) of great independence. A Village helps us recognize, utilize, and celebrate our interdependence. This is a fine model for later life.
I want to depend on you -and I want you to depend on me.
(This post appeared first in the July Observer. To read the full Observer, click here.
Let’s get one thing straight: Social Security is insurance. The overwhelming majority of working Americans pay for it. It is a self-financed program and does not increase the deficit, so don’t cut its benefits for deficit reduction.
Funding for Social Security is solid for two decades. Improving its long-term funding is readily done by the measures you advocate — raising the cap on earnings subject to the payroll tax, and slowly and slightly raising Social Security tax rates. But don’t tamper with the longstanding design of the program: weighted in favor of low and modest earners but also rewarding higher contributions by high earners with higher benefits.
Social Security provides the largest part of retiree income. The older one gets, the larger the share it provides, and the more one needs it.
Ms. Bernstein is a national board member of the Older Women’s League. Mr. Bernstein served as the principal consultant to the 1982-1983 National Commission on Social Security Reform.
OWL members know about the perils of bone fractures; breaking a hip is one of the most feared accidents for older women.
Over the years, OWL has participated in education programs about osteoporosis. More recently, we have joined with other organizations as part of the National Bone Health Alliance, which brings together researchers, service providers, manufacturers and educators to work together to prevent second fractures. I have represented OWL in this group, and want you all to know about the most recent initiative.
Osteoporosis and low bone mass affect over 40 million Americans. With osteoporosis causing two million bone breaks every year at an estimated annual cost of $17 billion to the Medicare system, these fractures are responsible for significant human and financial costs.
One proven way to improve patient outcomes and lower health care costs is a secondary fracture prevention program, also known as a fracture liaison service (FLS). FLS programs coordinate post-fracture to ensure that individuals receive appropriate diagnosis, treatment and support.
Despite the financial and quality measure incentives for institutions to implement FLS programs, the lack of awareness, knowledge and tools have stood in the way of widespread implementation.
To solve the problem, the Alliance and its partners have launched Fracture Prevention CENTRAL. Fracture Prevention CENTRAL includes case studies, best practices and resources to help sites establish and maintain a fracture liaison service program. Ask your health care provider to check with FLS if you have any questions or concerns about fractures.
Is the country ready to take a closer look at our military budget? Barney Frank thinks so. The former congressman believes that Americans are ready to reexamine why we’re spending billions of dollars on unnecessary weapons systems at the expense of programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
He said that there are several ways to reduce Pentagon spending without cutting jobs or services to veterans. “We have three ways to drop bombs on Russia,’ he said, referring to the land, air and sea delivery systems known as the nuclear triad. “Let the Pentagon give up one.”
And the person who needs to hear this message loud and clear? The president. Frank said Obama was re-elected at the same time he was calling for military cuts – the first time a Democrat has been able to pull that off. He also pointed to Chuck Hagel’s appointment to Defense Secretary as a positive sign, since Hagel has been critical of bloated military spending in the past.
Learn more about the nation’s defense spending here And here’s Frank during a recent MSNBC appearance talking about defense cuts.
Ken Schug has been a member of the OWL Council of Champions since the beginning. He served as President of the Chicago Hyde Park OWL chapter for several years and has been a champion of enhancing opportunities for women for many years. Ken recently retired after teaching chemistry for 56 years at Illinois Institute of Technology. In the early early 1980s, he obtained funding from the National Science Foundation for a program that brought women who had majored in science back to campus to pick up their career preparation. The students took regular classes, and were typically surprised – and relieved – to find they could compete well with the younger undergraduate.
As department chair, Ken had been instrumental in hiring a woman faculty member in chemistry; she was an enthusiastic supporter of the new program. They provided each student with a mentor, who worked closely with her both during the academic preparation, and also during the internships arranged by the department. All of the students completed the program, and most went on to careers in science – often with their internship sites; two continued to complete Ph.D.s in chemistry.
We appreciate men like Ken for their continued, creative support!
The chained CPI proposal—euphemism for a cut in Social Security benefits— is a bad idea that just won’t go away. OWL is pleased to join leading organizations like AARP, AAUW, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the National Women’s Law Center and the YWCA in a print ad campaign running this week in Roll Call and Politico educating policy makers about the very real harm that would be done to women if this proposal is adopted.
The VAWA vote is a reminder of the very real difference policy can make in people’s lives. It demonstrates the power of practical and bipartisan problem-solving, of hundreds of thousands of men and women making their voices heard in D.C. The power of civic engagement. Read more in the February Observer.
Leafing through OWL co-founder Tish Sommers’ biography by Patricia Huckle and came across a familiar face—my late grandmother, Elsie Frank. It was taken during the 1982 OWL Mother’s Day campaign, on Capitol Hill. Then-House Speaker Tip O’Neill has his arm around Elsie, Tish is standing to the left in the photo along with Sylvia Brown. Mary Alice Jackson is on the right. When I started volunteering—and then working—at OWL, I felt like I was following in her footsteps. Before she passed away in 2005, she had established herself as a national advocate. There’s been a lot written about her; one of my favorites is this piece by her daughter, Ann Lewis, that she penned for the Jewish Women’s League.
OWL congratulates Sally Jewell on her well-deserved nomination as Secretary of the Interior. We also congratulate the president and his staff for finding the ideal candidate for this post. Her varied background in energy, with the environment, in retail The first woman tapped to join the president’s second-term cabinet would be giving up her position as REI’s president and CEO. We wish her smooth sailing (or kayaking, as she would probably prefer) through the sometimes-rough waters of confirmation hearings.
In a January 9 news article, OWL Policy Director Amy Shannon says the end of the payroll tax holiday is good news for Social Security.
“Tax Watchdogs for Seniors Momentarily Relieved”
By Sharon Johnson, WeNews senior correspondent
(WOMENSENEWS)—Some women’s advocates welcome the expiration of the two-year payroll tax holiday Dec. 31 because they say it ends a risky phase of financing for a public retirement system that women can’t afford to lose.
However, more battles are yet to come. The House Republicans have sworn to find cuts in social programs, including Social Security, when Congress meets during January and February.
“The payroll tax holiday was dangerous because it changed the way Social Security had been financed for 75 years,” said Amy Shannon, policy director of the Washington-based Older Women’s League, known as OWL, a grassroots organization that focuses on issues unique to women as they age. “Instead of workers and employers contributing all of the funds, part of the worker’s share came from general funds allocated by Congress.”
Had the holiday continued, Social Security might have had to compete with other government programs for funding, Shannon said. “At some point, Congress might have decided to spend the money on the military or some other program, jeopardizing the financial underpinnings of Social Security.”
Shannon describes Social Security as the bedrock of older women’s financial security. “Three out of 10 older women living alone receive virtually all their income from Social Security, so paying a few more dollars in payroll taxes during one’s working years is a good deal,” she said.
A worker’s share of Social Security tax will increase to 6.2 percent on the first $113,700 in wages earned in 2013 from 4.2 percent. A worker earning $30,000 a year will pay $600 more in taxes in 2013. Those making $50,000 will pay $1,000 and those at the top of the scale, $2,200 more.
Yesterday, OWL congratulated the administration and congressional leadership on making the tough decisions needed to avert the fiscal cliff. As a direct result of their actions, millions of Americans’ taxes will not go up; Medicare payments to physicians will not be slashed; there will be no reduction in Social Security benefits.
But the fiscal cliff spectacle also demonstrates how tempting it can be to look for short-term “fixes” instead of engaging in meaningful policymaking.
“Any discussion around the adequacy of a program as critical to millions of people as Social Security is should only be done within the context of the normal order of business, not the harried, last-minute deal-making that characterized this agreement,” said OWL Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar. “The outcry from coast to coast when the chained CPI issue was raised makes it clear that retirement security is an issue of paramount importance to the nation. We deserve to have it treated that way.”