January 15 2014
National Review Online
Carrie L. Lukas
If there was every any question of whether the Left would recycle the “War on Women” campaign effort for 2014, there isn’t now. The release of the Shriver Report – with its the lengthy, anecdote-filled document; catchy website and social-media campaign; day-long events; and presidential pow-wow – shows that the Left is doubling down on the message that women are under siege in America, and only bigger government can save them.
The publication ably describes some of the hardship and challenges facing American women, though there is the obligatory use of exaggerated statistics. Beyonce (who is naturally a lead author for this very serious policy document) refers to women earning 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, even though according to the Department of Labor, the average earnings of a full-time female worker have been above 80 percent of men’s since 2009. More fundamentally, of course, that comparison tells us nothing about women being “short changed” or the role that discrimination plays in earnings. Controlling for factors such as education, hours worked, and industry account for the majority of the wage gap, as even the liberal American Association of University Women acknowledges.
While highlighting hardship and describing the need for new government spending, regulation, and benefit programs, the report ignores how such intervention can backfire on women. There is no recognition that a higher minimum wage and more generous mandatory paid leave programs can destroy job opportunities for women, particularly women seeking flexible work arrangements. There is no discussion of how the war on poverty itself, by encouraging the breakdown of the family, has contributed to many women’s current predicaments. There is no consideration of how existing government regulations, from our regulations on energy, to food, to health care, drive up the cost of everything American families must buy and discourage job creation, robbing people – particularly those “on the brink” with the fewest skills – of desperately needed employment opportunities.
There are some positive aspects of the report: Calls for women to focus on education, greater financial literacy, and building stable relationships. Yet those positive elements are subsumed by the more sweeping message in the document, which is that women need government assistance at every step of life, and that government can costlessly take care of our every need.
One would hope that America’s recent experience with the Obamacare rollout and the president’s many broken promises on what government-run health care would deliver would make the public skeptical of government cure-alls. In fact, it’s worth noting that health-care policy is almost entirely ignored in the Shriver Report. That’s no surprise since this report’s central purpose isn’t to educate Americans about the actual challenges women face and policy options for ameliorating their problems, but to sell American women on the progressive political agenda. American women should look past the glitz and not buy this false advertisement for big government.
Carrie Lukas is the managing director at the Independent Women's Forum and co-author of Liberty is No War on Women: How Big Government and Victim-Politics Undermine America's Progress.
Follow Carrie on Twitter: @carrielukas