What Women Care About in 2012

President Debate

With such a tight election, both presidential candidates are campaigning hard for women’s votes. 

But what are women’s issues?

Once again pundits fill the airwaves with stereotypically female issues such as abortion and contraception. Certainly women care about these things, but when we vote, we think about all the issues, and how they apply to us, just like men.

Jobs. The unemployment rate is falling, but partly because millions of Americans have stopped looking for work. While men lost more jobs during the recession (which officially ended in June, 2009),women have had it tougher during the sluggish recovery: they’ve clawed back just 32.3% of the jobsthey lost in the recession, while men have regained 43.2% of their lost jobs. 

Taxes. Upcoming changes to the code have implications for men and women alike; for instance, the $1,000 per child tax credit is set to be halved at the end of this year when the Bush tax cuts expire. Candidates should be clear about the trade-offs involved in any changes to what women and families will owe. 

The budget deficit. For the past 10 years, under Republican and Democratic presidents, federal spending has increased with little relation to tax revenue. This can’t continue without leading to the sort of debt crisis plaguing Europe. A debt crisis could end debate over creating effective anti-poverty programs—often used by women and families—by making cuts inevitable and harsh. 

Social Security and Medicare. Politicians shy away from talking about entitlement reform because these programs are popular. But Social Security’s incoming revenue and trust fund resources will no longer cover full benefits by 2033—and Medicare will reach that point in 2024. With women living longer than men, we need an honest conversation about what these programs will look like in the future.

Laura Vanderkam is the author of All the Money in the World.

Out of the Box
In the last presidential election, nearly 10 million more women voted than men did, according to the Census Bureau: about 70.4 million vs. 60.7 million.


Gender bending. What political issues are most important to you this election year?

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